June 16, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.

North Branch trio struggles at state

North Branch trio struggles at state
North Branch trio struggles at state

State Tournament

For a threesome of North Branch track and field competitors, their debuts at the state tournament were both memorable and forgettable at the same time.

Two of the competitors were seniors Ben Besch and David Leason. Both were competing in field events, Besch in the pole vault and Leason in the triple jump.

Leason was first up for North Branch. The senior was seeded 19th out of 20 jumpers with a 41'5" jump.

Although he did figuratively and literally leapfrog a few people, he couldn't hit his seed jump, which would've at least boosted him up another spot.

He leapt 40'8", which was good for 17th place in the meet.

Michael Sandle of Eden Prairie dominated the event, jumping 49'4", almost four feet farther than Eastview's Frank Veldman, who finished in second place.

In pole vaulting, Ben Besch had been seeded in the top 10 all year with his jumps. Going into the meet, he had a 13'11" seed, which was good enough for the fourth best seed.

But, things took a turn for the worse for Besch and all the competitors when it was rainy and gloomy on the day of the finals, so the event had to be moved inside, which most pole vaulters aren't used to.

Besch struggled in the transition and couldn't record a height in his three attempts. He was one of four jumpers to not record a height.

Lee Bares, a sophomore from Lakeville South showed up out of nowhere with a jump of 15 feet to win the event. He was only seeded 13'11" heading into it. Top seeded Kent Esslinger fell short of his 14'11" seed and got second with a jump of 14'6".

Both boys will be departing the program after this year, but both were pleasant suprises this year for the Vikings. Although their spots won't be easily filled, at least the two wrapped up their careers with the state tournament, not something many high school competitors can say.

In the girls half of the event, Sherrahlynn Linkert was the only Viking to qualify for the meet.

The sophomore showed up to the meet with the fourth best seed time in the state. Her stock even boosted a bit when defending state champion and top seed Jessica January of Richfield was disqualified in the first heat.

That left only two girls with better seed times than Linkert's 46.09 seconds.

However, the seed times don't do anything for the girls once they are on the track. Linkert labored for just a fraction of a second, but it was enough to shave almost two seconds off of her seed time as she finished the race in 47.77 seconds, in 13th place. The result left her out of the finals.

Junior Mariah Witt of Hopkins eventually won the event in the finals, finishing in 44.34 seconds.

Linkert is only a sophomore, so she will have more chances to cause some havoc at the state tournament in the next two years. The only problem is that the field this year was loaded with underclassmen already. Out of the 16 competitors at the state tournament this weekend, only three were seniors. The last two state champions in January and Witt won't be going anywhere when the 2012 season rolls around.


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