May 14, 2015 at 1:32 p.m.

North Branch boys and girls win True Team Sections

North Branch boys and girls win True Team Sections
North Branch boys and girls win True Team Sections

Even though they are missing some key contributors to injuries, the North Branch girls track and field team earned their third straight berth to the True Team State Meet last week by winning the Section 7AA True Team meet  Tuesday, May 5.

This year, though, they were joined by the boys who won their half of the meet,  giving North Branch a clean sweep.

The girls didn’t get a top three finish until Mercedey Harper came in second place in the 400 meter dash, the third event of the day. She finished in 1:01.66.
Their first win of the day came in the next race, as Rhianna Rinke won the 800 meter run by over two seconds. Rinke would follow that up with a win in the 1,600 meter run, making her personally responsible for 48 individual points at the meet.

Savannah Linkert earned a second place in the 300 meter hurdles, narrowly missing out on first place by a mere two-tenths of a second.

In the relays, North Branch really scored big, finishing in the top three in three out of the four events, which comprised 99 team points. Their 4x100 relay came in third, their 4x200 relay won and their 4x400 relay came in third place.

In pole vault, which has been a dominant event for North Branch the past half decade, they got 46 total points from Mikayla Johnson and Katie Burnside. Johnson won the event while Burnside came in third place.

Alexys Olson finished second in the triple jump with a leap of 32’11”, earning her 23 points.

Thrower Josee Axberg also came through big for the Vikings. She finished in second place in both the shot put and discus throw, earning the team 46 points. She tossed the shot 36’3” and the discus 95’5”.

When all the places were tallied up in the true team format, the Vikings came ou on top fairly comfortably. They scored 631 points, besting second place Grand Rapids by almost 50 points. Cloquet finished third with 576.5 points.

Boys
On the boys’ side, Matt Marrin got them off to a literal and figurative fast start. The senior finished second in the 100 meter dash and won the 200 meter dash, earning 43 team points.

Senior Michael Hensch finished fourth in the 100 meter dash, and that’s notable because Hensch also won the shot put event later in the day by a wide margin. It’s not often that a competitor runs with the fastest guys at the event and then throws with the strongest.

 Hensch’s shot distance was 53 feet, which was over seven feet farther than second place Evan Erickson of Cloquet.

Arik Steele dominated the hurdling events like only he can. He blasted the field in the 110 meter high hurdles. He was the only sub-15 second run with a 14.60 time. In the 300 hurdles, he was clear of second place by three seconds, nearly clocking a time under 40 seconds with a 40.05 finish.

Much like the girls, the boys really did some damage in the relay portion of the event. They also place three of their relay teams in the top three with winners coming in the 4x200 and 4x400 relay and a second place finish in the 4x100 relay.

When it came to the field events, the Vikings absolutely crushed the competition. They won the high jump, triple jump, long jump, pole vault, shot put and earned a third place finish in the discus.

Connor Martineau, a senior, was the winner in the high jump and long jump. Kyle Crandell cleared 13’6” in the pole vault while no one else broke 12 feet. John Klun surprised a lot of people by jumping 41’4” in the triple jump to secure a win, and the aforementioned Hensch won the shot put.

Nick Helms finished third in discus, chucking the disc 136’10”.

The boys final team standings were a bit closer than the girls, but they still won by a comfortable margin. The North Branch boys team accumulated 560.5 points in the true team format, staying 23.5 points ahead of Mora, which finished in second place with 537 points. Cloquet rounded out the top three with 476 points.

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