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East Ridge track teams raring to go

By AARON PAITICH, Special to the Star Tribune, 03/09/13, 5:42PM CST


Led by senior Nathan Roese, the Raptors' track team is poised for a bigger year.


Nathan Roese took down a giant last spring.

Hopkins senior Austin Salargo hadn’t lost a 400-meter dash in his junior and senior year. Not until Roese, running for East Ridge, nipped him by 0.12 seconds when it counted most: the Class 2A state meet finals.

It didn’t surprise coach Shannon Rainey.

“I personally thought he was going to win it, but I didn’t want to tell him that,” Rainey said. “His training, his effort — he works so hard in the offseason.”

After running a 48.69 in the preliminaries, Roese exploded for a personal-record 47.79 first-place finish, just ahead of defending champion Salargo. As a sophomore, Roese finished second to Salargo in the 2011 Class 2A 400-meter dash. He also placed fourth in the 200-meter dash with a 22.15 mark. He accounted for all 18 of the Raptors’ points to give them an 18th-place team finish.

Salargo now competes for the University of Minnesota. Roese will join him next year.

“He’s such a competitor,” Rainey added. “He does all the right things. He was really, really excited. I knew he could do it — and he got the win.”

Roese is the crown jewel of a budding program at East Ridge. Two years ago, the boys’ and girls’ teams sent five to the state meet. Last year, they doubled that total. With East Ridge, located in Woodbury, entering just its fifth year of existence, the future for the teams looks bright.

“I feel really strongly that’s going to happen again,” Rainey said.

Rainey is enthusiastic about the probability of having all four of the boys’ relays qualifying for the state meet this year — the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800.

“It’s pretty rare to do that,” Rainey added. “You’re lucky to get a couple in. If we stay healthy and do all the right things we have a really good shot of that happening.”

Allen Swenson finished 16th in the pole vault last year. The senior will look to improve on his personal best and return to state.

The Raptor boys will have their hands full with traditional powers at Stillwater, which won state two years ago and captured the last two cross-country titles. Park, Mounds View, Roseville, Woodbury, White Bear Lake and Forest Lake all consistently carry strong teams.

While it’s not easy getting three relay teams to qualify for the state meet, that’s what the Raptor girls did last year. All three earned all-state honors. Six all-state sprinters will return to this year’s team.

Sophomores Emily Betz and Brenley Goertzen and junior Sandra Gramer return as part of the fifth-place 4x800 meter relay team. Sophomore Raven Tittle and senior Megan Amend are back from last year’s eighth-place 4x200 meter relay team. Junior Kiera Joiner, Goertzen and Amend also helped the 4x400 relay team finish in fifth.

Mounds View, Cretin-Derham Hall and Stillwater are just a few teams that will contend with East Ridge in the Suburban East Conference.

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