Stillwater's Eli Krahn led runners in the 3200-meter run final (ELIZABETH FLORES/Star Tribune)
A victorious Eli Krahn of Stillwater smiled as he jogged toward his likewise beaming coach Scott Christensen, a peaceful moment Friday in a mercurial season for two passionate competitors.
Krahn, a sophomore, sprinted away from a strong field in the 3,200-meter run with a little more than one lap remaining. He won the event in a time of 9:00.08 at the Class 2A state track and field meet at Hamline University.
Last spring at state, Krahn took second in the 3,200 and then won the 1,600 in a national freshman record time. But injury and illness slowed an anticipated strong follow-up season and turned Krahn and Christensen against each other at times.
“We were fighting like cats and dogs because we’re both impatient people,” Christensen said.
They worked well together on Friday. Krahn followed Christensen’s advice and stayed with the lead group until 600 meters remained. Then he separated himself from defending 3,200 champion Obsa Ali of Richfield, Hamline Elite Meet 3,200 champion Joey Duerr of Chaska, top seed Joe Klecker of Hopkins and eventual runner-up Zack Benning of Hastings.
Christensen and Krahn agreed their struggles at times were nothing personal. The tension ultimately provided good energy.
“He and I have our ups and downs throughout the year,” Krahn said. “When we do well, we’re best buddies.”
Chanhassen senior Emily Castanias noticed an overall body ache starting with about two laps to go in the girls’ 3,200 run. But she told herself, “No matter how much pain I was in, the last 800 couldn’t be too bad.”
Castanias, who will compete for the Gophers, won the race in a personal best time of 10 minutes, 28.58 seconds. She overcame an iron deficiency that had threatened to derail her promising career. On Friday, she outlasted Alexandria twins Bethany and Megan Hasz, the top two finishers in the state cross-country meet last fall.
Ribbons without records
Minnetonka senior Mia Barron and Kasson-Mantorville junior Taylor Wiebke each won individual state championships but could not push their all-time record marks farther.
Barron defended her long jump title with a mark of 19 feet, 1½ inches, well below her record of 19-10. Wiebke reached the top of the podium for the first time with a high jump of 5-9. Her best is 5-11.
Barron can earn additional blue ribbons Saturday. She’s the top seed in triple jump (39-11¾) and anchors the Skippers’ second-seeded 4x100 relay.
Hopkins senior Terrance Bowers went above and beyond to defend his triple jump championship. His mark of 48-2 was more than two feet better than last spring (45-9¾). “It’s great to see him in the 48-foot club,” Royals coach Nick Lovas said. “He’s now 11th all-time and that’s pretty exclusive company.”
Athletes to watch
Saturday’s finals include title defense attempts for sprinters Shaheed Hickman of Hopkins (100) and Akeem Sirleaf of North St. Paul (200). Both must hold off Robbinsdale Armstrong sophomore Evan McClellon, the second seed in both events.
Cretin-Derham Hall’s dynamic duo of sophomore Brieasha Hunter and senior Megan Linder are set to duel for the title of state’s fastest female. Hunter holds the top finals seed in the 100 and 400. Linder, third in the 100 and second in the 400, also holds the second seed in the 200, one spot ahead of Hunter.
Blaine junior Alexandria Williams won the 100 hurdles preliminaries in a meet-record time of 14.22 seconds. She aims to lower her all-time mark of 14.21 seconds in Saturday’s finals.
Top 1A performers
Future Gophers basketball player Carlie Wagner won the high jump with a leap of 5-6.
St. Croix Lutheran of West St. Paul junior Jon Tollefson returns to defend his 110 and 300 hurdles titles. He is the top seed in the 110 for Saturday’s finals and third in the 300 behind Minnehaha Academy senior Samuel Lundquist.
Jia Lewis of Minneapolis Edison is the No. 1 seed and her sister Jada is seeded third in the girls’ 100 finals.
Minnehaha Academy junior Jonathan Webb has the top time (49.33 seconds) heading into the 400 finals.