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Praschak's hurdle record leads Somerset track teams

Miranda O'Rourke of Somerset charges down the runway in one of her attempts in the triple jump at the All-American Invitational at UW-River Falls on Saturday.1 / 2
Somerset senior Luke Praschak (front) broke a seven-year-old record in the 55-meter hurdles at the All-American Invitational in River Falls on Saturday.2 / 2

Several impressive records were smashed at Saturday's All-American Indoor Track Invitational at UW-River Falls.

One of the record breakers was Somerset senior Luke Praschak. Praschak shattered a seven-year-old record in the 55 meter hurdles in winning the event in the star-studded 17-team meet.

Somerset's boys placed 11th in the meet on Saturday while the Spartan girls placed 12th in their half of the meet.

Praschak set the meet record by running a time of 7.81 seconds in the hurdles. That broke a record of 7.94 seconds set in 2006 by Andover's Matt Warhol.

Because the meet was packed with so many elite athletes, opportunities to earn points were rare. Somerset's boys were only able to score in four spots.

Two of those spots were the hurdles. Luke Praschak won the 55 hurdles, but his younger brother, Max, also ran extremely well, taking third place in the meet.

"Luke's having a monster year," said Spartan boys coach Mike Holmquist. "He just keeps shaving off time."

Holmquist pointed out that Max Praschak matched the time that his older brother ran in the 55-hurdles a year ago.

The other two places taken by Somerset were both produced by senior sprinter Robbie Lang. Lang ran a personal best to take third place in the 55-meter dash, beating a highly touted senior from La Crosse who will run for the Wisconsin Badgers.

Lang's other points came in the 200-meter dash. How strong was this field? The four runners who beat Lang all broke a meet record that had stood for 10 years. Lang tied a personal best with a 23.43 time.

Holmquist said there were a number of Spartan efforts that stood out, even though they didn't earn points. He pointed to Aaron Joppru nearly reaching 40 feet in the triple jump as one example, and Andrew Thurmes' improvement in the 1,600 meters as another.

Somerset's girls were able to get two seniors into the placewinners on Saturday and they both made a big splash. Spartan senior Natalie Broome torched the opposition in the 200 meters, winning the event by more than a half-second with her time of 26.94 seconds. Broome also took second place in the 55-meter dash, where her ongoing duel with Osceola's Aimee Rice-Strand is going to be something to behold all season.

The other placewinner for the Spartan girls was Sarah Krig in the high jump. Krig was competing for the first time in two weeks because of an injury and she was able to claim third place by clearing the bar at 5 feet, 2 inches.

SCC meet

The Spartans got a chilly start to the outdoor track season last Thursday when they ran at St. Croix Central.

Praschak led the highlights for the Spartans, winning both hurdle races. His time of 40.5 seconds in the 300 hurdles nearly matched his career best time.

Holmquist was quite pleased with the second place effort by the Spartans in the 400 meter relay. Aaron Moore, Brody Penman, Dallas Johnson and Jared Buchanan teamed up in this performance.

Broome was the big winner for the Spartan girls, taking the top spot in the 100 meter dash on Thursday. The Spartan girls also performed well in the 400 relay, with a second place finish.

The Spartans are scheduled to return to competition this Friday for the Hudson True Team Meet (now cancelled).