June 12, 2003 at 1:32 p.m.
The Chisago Lakes girls track team finished 20th at the State Track and Field Meet last weekend with 16 points, ‘Cats junior Kari Schmidt accounted for all of the points.
Schmidt started her state campaign last Friday in the discus. Seeded fourth going in, Schmidt and the rest of the field were fighting for second place. Lakeville’s Liz Podominick, last year’s state champ was back with a qualifying throw of 157 feet eight inches, a full 21 feet ahead of the field.
Schmidt breezed through qualifying, advancing to the finals. Fighting the rain, the junior unloaded a throw of 123 feet two inches, placing her fourth in the competition. Podominick defended her title by taking first with a throw of over 150 feet.
“We figured she would get fourth or fifth,” said Ken Orwoll, Chisago Lakes track and field head coach. “She held her own. The weather affected some of the throws. I thought Kari struggled with it a little bit by being cautious, not wanting to take any chances. Once she got to the finals she let it all go. I thought she did great.”
Fourth was good, but everyone knew that her best shot at winning state was in the shot put on Saturday. After taking second last year at state in the shot, Schmidt was back, however, so was last year’s state champ Liz Podominick whose qualifying score placed her six feet ahead of the pack.
Things went as expected in the preliminaries as eight of the top nine seeds made the finals. Seeded number two, Schmidt paced herself early by setting another personal best with a throw of 45 feet eight and a half inches. That monstrous throw put her second behind Podominick when the event was over, four feet off the pace.
“Her first four throws were 45 feet, she’s never done that before,” commented Orwoll. She was definitely on and that was a good deal. I think she was a little disappointed with her fourth in the discus, she probably could’ve made third, but every time she goes out there she is expecting a personal best. Her performance in the shot put was amazing and that helped her leave on a good note.”
Here’s even an better one. Podominick is a senior, leaving Schmidt the favorite to take the shot put next season. In the discus, two of the top three spots were held by seniors leaving Schmidt one of the favorites in that event as well.
Devine Leads the Vikings at State
In her last meet of her high school career, the Vikings Sheena Devine was determined to go out with a bang. After finishing third at state last year in the shot, Devine equalled that performance, getting stronger and stronger on every throw. If the event would’ve gone another round, many believe Devine might have gotten second instead of third.
“I wish she would’ve had one more throw,” remarked Brian Hasleiet, North Branch track and field head coach. “She threw almost three feet more than she’s ever thrown. She wasn’t there just to compete, she wanted to do some damage.”
She did just that. Throwing ahead of Kari Schmidt, Devine increased her throw after each round, finishing with a toss of 45 feet four and a quarter inches, five and three quarter inches away from second.
"She was really happy,” commented Hasleiet. “She was thrilled when she got done. She pushed that school record out there quite a ways. It really just depends on timing. There have been years where that throw would’ve won state but Schmidt is solid and Podominick is one of the best throwers in the country. We just told her to throw her best ever and see where that placed her.”
As expected, Podominick took the title, heaving the shot just under 50 feet, however, Devine was the crowd favorite, finishing her senior season in style. After the event was over, Hasleiet was left with mixed feelings.
“I’ve never coached a kid who has improved that much at a state meet. She’s just a great kid and a tremendous worker,” said Hasleiet. “All of our seniors will be missed but she’ll be the toughest one to replace.”
Another senior going out in style was Mike Dahlke who took off in the triple jump early Saturday morning.
After qualifying for state by a half-inch, Dahlke was seeded 12th out of 16 competitors. Jumping in the first heat, the senior was as consistent as they come, the only jumper in his heat to make all three jumps. Unfortunately, his consistency wasn’t enough, jumping 41 feet two and a half inches, missing the finals by five inches. Dahlke finished 12th overall.
“He was very disappointed. It was his last shot and he wanted to get to the finals and medal,” commented Hasleiet. “He’s one of the best kids you’ll ever meet, I think he was just trying too much.”
That’s probably a good assessment. All three of Dahlke’s jumps would’ve most likely catapulted him to the finals except for a problem with his mark, and in a game of inches, inches make the difference.
“He didn’t hit his mark. He jumped a couple of inches before he was supposed to take off and those extra inches are big,” said Hasleiet. “If he would’ve hit his mark, I think he would’ve made the finals. He was very consistent but he didn’t make the (jumping) board and you can’t do that at state. Overall though, of all the athletes we had make it, I was the happiest for Mike. He is one of the hardest working kids you’ll ever meet and he deserved to make it.”
Of all the local athletes competing, the Friday rain storm affected Jenny Anderson the most. As the sophomore lined up for the 300 hurdles, the rain turned from annoying to heavy, adding extra pressure to an already tense situation.
“She was really nervous. It’s her first time at state and state is a totally different ball game,” remarked Hasleiet. “I think the rain affected her. That track is smooth to start with and I think it made her even more nervous because she was afraid of falling down.”
Plagued by a cautious start, Anderson picked up steam near the tail end of the race in lane one. Still, she could not recover, crossing the finish line with a time of 50.27 seconds. The cut-off time for the finals was 46.51 seconds.
“She was really disappointed that she didn’t do better but after a couple of minutes she was okay with it,” said Hasleiet. “She realizes that she had a good season and accomplished a lot. Now, she has new goals for next year and she knows what it’s all about.
Of the 17 competitors in the 300 hurdles, six will graduate. Anderson is one of five sophomores in the group.
Phil Olson can relate to nerves. Just a junior, the Viking hurler was a surprise state participant to many, putting even more pressure on his throwing shoulders.
“To have two underclassman in the state tourney, we were shell shocked,” remarked Hasleiet. “Phil improved so much this year, it was really unbelievable.”
Seeded 16th in the boys discus, Olson had nothing to lose. Throwing first, the junior capped off his Saturday morning by heaving the discus 127 feet seven inches, 24 feet short of making the finals. Overall, Olson finished 15th in the competition.
“Phil and Jenny both told me after their events that they had never been that nervous before,” commented Hasleiet. “He was disappointed but nerves played a big part. I told Phil after the event that’s the way it happens sometimes. He’s usually a pretty relaxed kid but he wasn’t quite as loose as he normally is. I told him that he needed to learn from the experience and hopefully set higher goals for next year.”
Like Anderson, this could be just the beginning for Olson who has one season left. Of the top six finishers in the discus, five graduate.