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Central track team gets three runners to state

There's reason to rejoice in the St. Croix Central track program.

The St. Croix Central track teams were able to advance four individual entries to the 2009 WIAA State Track Meet. The 2009 state meet will be held at UW-La Crosse this Friday and Saturday.

Advancing to state for the Panthers are senior Derrek Pedersen in the 800 meters, junior Maddie Skaalrud in the 100 meters and sophomore Brett Johnson in a pair of distance races, the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

Pedersen will be running at state for the second straight year. Pedersen knows his running style, so he ran a tactical race built to suit his style. He started the race on a wicked pace, covering the first lap in 56 seconds.

"He knows he runs tight, he knows he has to have a lead," said Central coach Amanda Webb.

Pedersen ran an outstanding race, beating the time he posted at state last year. He was able to hold on and get fourth place, securing his spot in the 2009 state field.

Skaalrud ranks as one of the surprises of the sectional meet. She barely qualified for the finals in the 100 meters, running a 13.1 time in the preliminaries.

In the finals, Skaalrud grasped the opportunity in front of her. She ran the best time of her career, 12.76 seconds, to place second in the race. By cutting a third of a second off her prelim time, she was able to qualify for state for the first time.

"She shocked herself a little," Webb said of Skaalrud's finals race.

Johnson was able to qualify for state by taking fourth place in both of his races in the sectional meet. Johnson improved on his time from the regional meet by more than four seconds to take fourth place in the 1,600 meters. In the 3,200 meters Johnson made sure he kept a cushion to keep a grip on the fourth place spot.

Webb said the goals for the three Panther athletes are all different. Pedersen, as the only senior, is expected to pour all his effort to his race on Saturday.

Skaalrud is ranked in the top eight in her event entering the state meet. Webb said the first goal for Skaalrud is to make finals, with a second goal of getting into the top six in the finals. That would earn her a state medal.

Webb said Johnson's assignment, as a sophomore, is to learn all he can. With one race each day, Johnson has a rare opportunity to learn more strategy that will help him in future seasons.

Central had several other events that competed at last Friday's Division 2 sectional meet at Medford. The girls 3,200 meter relay team placed sixth. The team of Michelle Brunshidle, Abby Delander, Anna Langer and Jenna Ganther improved on its best time by nine seconds.

Isaac Lindahl competed in both hurdle races. He wasn't able to make the finals in the 110 high hurdles. In the 300 hurdles Lindahl was able to place eighth, with his time just a shade above the time he'd run at regionals.

Senior Ryan Hansen ended his high school career with a personal best. He entered the 800 meter run with the highest time in the field. He was able to improve upon his best time by four seconds, beating five runners in the process.

Freshman Stephen Brunshidle was able to place 12th in the 1,600 meters at the sectional. As one of the few freshman distance runners at this meet, he showed a bright future.

Senior Logan Snyder wasn't able to clear the opening height in the high jump and missed reaching the finals in the triple jump by three inches. Webb said Snyder's value to the team was immeasurable. It seemed that Snyder competed in every event during his career. Webb said Snyder was willing to do whatever it took to help the team the most that he could.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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