Chanhassen's Emily Castanias led the girls in the 3200-meter run final at the State High School Track and Field meet at Hamline University, Friday, June 6, 2014 in St. Paul, MN. ] (ELIZABETH FLORES/STAR TRIBUNE) ELIZABETH FLORES • eflores@startr
Shaelyn Sorensen may have run her last race for Tartan High School, but Titans girls’ cross-country and track coach Jim Boyle says it’s only the beginning.
“She’s definitely got another set of doors she’s going through,” Boyle said. “This is just the start.”
Sorensen had quite the senior year at Tartan.
Last fall, she finished 16th at the state cross-country meet, earning all-state honors. This past winter, she qualified for the Nordic skiing state meet. Most recently, in track and field, she set the school records in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and as a member of the 3,200-meter relay. At the Class 2A state meet, she took fourth place in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200.
To top it all off, Sorensen won the Minnesota State High School League’s Triple-A award, which honors excellence in academics, athletics and arts.
“It was nice to end high school on a high note,” said Sorensen, who graduated with 16 varsity letters — six in cross-country, five in Nordic skiing and five in track.
Sorensen embodies well-roundedness. In addition to her athletic achievements, she excels at playing the clarinet, earning all-conference band honors while playing first-chair. She has a 4.3 grade-point average and works part-time at the Running Room.
“She’s a very dedicated individual to academics and athletics,” Boyle said. “She’s been pretty committed to herself and her goals. She’s done a great job, and she’s just a great, quality individual.”
Sorensen was diagnosed with low iron levels after a disappointing junior year, in which she missed the state track meet. She addressed the situation with iron supplements and an increased training regimen.
The results were hard to ignore.
This spring, she set a new Tartan record in the 1,600 with a time of 4 minutes, 56.52 seconds, then took fourth place at the state meet in 4:57.38. She also broke the 3,200-meter record in Section 4, which Anoka’s Tracy Dahl had set well before Sorensen was born. Her finest moment, however, came in her final race when she set the school record in the 3,200 (10:30.45) while taking second in the state meet.
“I was just happy to be at state and really wanted to finish in the top four or five,” Sorensen said. “I was happy I did that.”
Sorensen said getting her name on the record board outside the Tartan track was something she wanted to do before she graduated.
“I wanted to break those records,” she said. “It was definitely on my mind. That was one of my goals for this season.”
Boyle said Sorensen’s accomplishments put her in rare territory.
“She’s been my best runner,” said Boyle, who has coached at Tartan since 1988. “She made some real strides this year as a senior.”
Sorensen’s comeback season caught the attention of the University of Wisconsin. Next year she’ll run for the Badgers as a preferred walk-on, with a shot at a scholarship, while pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.
“I’m excited,” Sorensen said. “I’m definitely ready to work hard and I want to contribute to the team. When I was looking at schools, I put education first, but I did want to participate in cross-country and track. When I was able to do both, I was happy.”
Boyle said Sorensen’s success is “a little bit hereditary and a product of lot of hard work.”
“She just kept plugging away,” Boyle said. “She always kept her eyes on the top runners and worked hard to achieve the best she could.
“She got back to form, and above it.”