ST. PAUL — There was strength in numbers for the Stillwater girls’ track and field team at the Class AA state meet on Friday and Saturday. The Ponies placed each of their relays among the top six in the finals to score 14 points and finish 23rd in the team standings.
The Ponies began with nine state entries, but qualified for the finals in three events — the 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 relays.
Stillwater’s top finish came in the 4×400 relay where Cecelia Peterson, Natalie Phippen, Shelby Litchy and Fiona Montie combined to place fourth in a time of 3:57.07 — an effort that ranks fifth on the team’s all-time list in the event. Phippen and Montie contributed to Stillwater’s second-place finish in this event a year ago.
The Ponies were seeded fifth in the event based on their section time, but were no guarantee to even make the finals after Montie took a spill during one of the exchanges. Stillwater coach Dawn Podolske estimated the team lost at least three seconds as a result, but still made the finals with nearly three seconds to spare after finishing at 3:59.67. The Ponies improved on that in the finals while finishing at 3:57.07.
“We ended up PR’ing by two seconds anyway and today we PR’d again by two seconds, so we’re happy,” Montie said. “There was a lot of competition. The 4×400 is just a really exciting race and we’re just happy to be a part of it. It was pretty intense.”
Montie also led off Stillwater’s sixth-place 4×800 relay team that finished in 9:20.29 to easily surpass the previous school record of 9:23,62 set by Katy Sly, Karissa Miller, Michelle San Cartier and Carolyn Baird in 2006. Joining Montie on that record-setting relay team were Larissa Colvin, Hannah Anderson and Maria Morley, who was hampered by a foot injury that forced out her of the 4×400 relay.
“Her foot was not 100 percent, but she made a commitment to the 4×800 this entire season. That was the one race she wanted to be a part of,” Podolske said. “I didn’t know we’d run our best of the season. I felt bad that Maria was not 100 percent, but I’m just really proud of them.”
The Ponies also ran to a sixth-place finish in the 4×200 relay with Brooke Hunter, Litchy, Montie and Phippen posting a time of 1:44.29 — which ranks No. 5 on the team’s all-time performance list. Phippen was the only returning member from Stillwater’s state runner-up team in the event last spring.
“The hand-offs were really good both days,” Podolske said.
The individual events were not as productive for the Ponies as none of the six qualified for the finals. Stillwater’s best hopes came in the hurdles, but Hunter ranked 11th in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.48 and Peterson (45.64) and Litchy (45.96) missed out on the finals in the 300 hurdles after finishing 12th and 15th in the prelims.
Stillwater also had two entries in the triple jump, but Skyler Adkins (35- 1/4) and Rachel Amos (35-0) ranked 11th and 12th to miss out on a spot in the finals.
Many of Stillwater’s 11 state entries were returning athletes, but senior Dayshia Coleman provided a pleasant surprise while advancing to state for the first time in an event should would not have imagined even a year ago. A sprinter and jumper for much of her track career, the undersized Coleman worked hard in the shot put to qualify for state.
“I’m just happy that I made it here,” Coleman said. “It’s awesome because I was not expecting to ever make it to state. I started out in the high 29s and low 30s and then I jumped up to 38 feet.”
Coleman’s best toss on Saturday was 36-7 1/2 to finish 14th.
“It was a good experience for her,” Podolske said. “Her improvement from a year ago just to get there was tremendous and I feel real fortunate that she got to the state meet and could experience it.”
It was a gratifying reward for someone willing to try a new event.
“It was a funny story because we had this day where we just had the whole team try different events and I went over to shot and (then) coach (Kiersten Carter) saw me throw and she’s like, ‘I’m taking you and you’re going to throw.’ Ever since then, I just started throwing,” Coleman said. “I was not expecting to be where I am today.”
The experience also allowed her an up-close look at record-setting thrower Maggie Ewen, who challenged the national record before settling for a winning distance of 54-8 1/2 — more than three feet past the previous state record and a staggering 11-and-a-half feet past runner-up Courtney Pasiowitz (43-0) of Coon Rapids.
“I have to congratulate her for that,” Coleman said. “That’s amazing. Some of the guys can’t throw that far.”
Minnetonka captured the team title with 94.5 points to finish more than 15 points in front of runner-up Lakeville South (79), which was the defending state champion.
1. Minnetonka 94.5; 2. Lakeville South 79; 3. Prior Lake 42; 4. Eagan 37; 5. Bemidji 35; 6. Hopkins 34; 7. Cretin-Derham Hall 30; 8. Shakopee 29; 9. Eastview 28; 10, tie, Lakeville North 27 and Rosemount 27; 23. Stillwater 14.
100 — 1. Taylor Anderson (Hopkins) 11.97.
200 — 1. Phillis Webb (Osseo) 24.83.
400 — 1. Megan Linder (Cretin-Derham Hall) 55.62.
800 — 1. Samantha Nielsen (Roseville) 2:13.33.
1,600 — 1. Jenna Truedson (Bemidji) 4:59.75.
3,200 — 1. Maria Hauger (Shakopee) 10:26.39.
100 hurdles — 1. Rachel Schow (Rosemount) 14.60; 11. Brooke Hunter (St) 15.48.
300 hurdles — 1. Rachel Schow (Rosemount) 43.89; 12. Cecelia Peterson (St) 45.64; 15. Shelby Litchy (St) 45.96.
4×100 relay — #$1. Hopkins, 47.48.
4×200 relay — 1. Prior Lake, 1:42.54; 6. Stillwater (Brooke Hunter, Shelby Litchy, Fiona Montie and Natalie Phippen) 1:44.29.
4×400 relay — 1. Minnetonka, 3:54.04; 4. Stillwater (Cecelia Peterson, Natalie Phippen, Shelby Litchy and Fiona Montie) 3:57.07.
4×800 relay — 1. Minnetonka, 9:06.71; 6. Stillwater (Fiona Montie, Larissa Colvin, Hannah Anderson and Maria Morley) 9:20.29.
Long jump — 1. Mia Barron (Minnetonka) 18-3.
Triple jump — 1. Piper Jensen (Minnetonka) 38- 3/4; 11. Skyler Adkins (St) 35- 1/4; 12. Rachel Amos (St) 35-0.
Shot put — #$1. Maggie Ewen (St. Francis) 54-8 1/2; 14. Dayshia Coleman (St) 36-7 1/2.
Discus — 1. Maggie Ewen (St. Francis) 167-1.
High jump — 1. Caraline Slattery (Lakeville South) 5-8.
Pole vault — #$1. Andrianna Jacobs (Rochester Century) 13-0.
# Class AA state record
$ All-time state meet record