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Tom Mix, Published March 31 2012

Late burst boosts North’s Harmon

FARGO – Fargo North freshman long-distance runner Jackie Harmon isn’t where she wants to be in the 1,600 meters, but she’s close.

Harmon raced to a first-place time of 5 minutes, 34.62 seconds in the event at the Lyle Hokanson Memorial track and field meet on Saturday at the Ellig Sports Complex.

Her time was just seconds shy of qualifying for the North Dakota state track and field meet set for May 25 and 26 in Bismarck.

It was an even field, and the race saw several different leaders as each lap progressed.

Harmon entered the 1,600 with the eighth-best seed time and used a late burst to separate herself from the tight pack of leaders.

“I just felt like I had it in me to kick it up a notch and get past them and stay in behind them at the beginning to get a feel for my race,” Harmon said.

Harmon has been running cross country for the Spartans since seventh grade and finished 22nd in the North Dakota Class A meet last fall.

“She looked really good early on,” Fargo North girls head coach Aaron Walker said. “She is coming off a very good cross country season last fall and it’s great to see it carry over into track season.”

Harmon said her goal is to keep improving her time and hopefully qualify for state.

The favorable weather the Red River Valley has had this spring likely means more chances for Harmon and others to get opportunities to shed seconds off times and earn trips to Bismarck.

“She’ll continue to get better as the season goes on,” Walker said. “It’s still really early. This is still the base-building phase. … We still have a lot of meets to get in before the season is over.”

West Fargo fared well in the relays, taking first in the 800, 1600 and 3,200.

Brooke Grooters, Christine Baltezore, Keana Karnopp and Alissa Mears paced the field with a first-place time of 10:09.40 in the 3,200.

Mears, Amanda Levin, Jaeden Metcalf and Samantha Gooding cruised to a time of 1:47.72 in the 800, which was a state-qualifying time.

The Packers entered the 800 with the third-best seed time (1:51.76) behind Fargo North (1:51.50) and Central Cass (1:49.00).

It was just the second time West Fargo had run the event outdoors this season.

“We all got out hard and ran our fastest,” said Levin who is a sophomore. “Our handoffs were good for the most part. It was good to run it again.”

Mears said she accelerated too quickly, which caused her to slow down for the last handoff.

“I’m actually a distance runner, so for me it is hard to say how good we did,” Mears said. “Obviously, we did well taking first and getting the lead, but there’s always room for improvement.”

“If we get our handoffs better, our times could be better,” Levin said.

Central Cass senior Paige Slemmons recorded the fastest Class B time in the 100 meters, racing to a time of 12.52 seconds.

The field was filled with quality runners, as six athletes recording state-qualifying times.

“I just wanted to make sure I ran my race and stayed down and did what I was supposed to do,” Slemmons said. “I didn’t want to focus on anyone other than my race.”

Slemmons also runs the 200 and 400. She also is a member of the Squirrels’ 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.

Levin paced the field in the 100 meters with a state-qualifying time of 12.27 seconds.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562