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Published June 09 2012

Area runners Haugrud, Whitney put up strong showings at Minnesota state track meet

ST. PAUL – The hardest part about the last 10 meters was to not make a premature victory smile.

When Pelican Rapids’ junior Sommer Haugrud did cross the finish line, she had a big grin. For Breckenridge senior Michael Whitney, there was a smile and a sense of relief.

Whitney picked up two state titles – in the 100 and 200 meters – while Haugrud finished first in the 200 and second in the 100 on Saturday in the Class 1A portion of the Minnesota state track meet at Hamline University.

“I was just thinking it’s my last race of the season and to give it my all,” Haugrud said. “I was so close in the 100 that I wanted to win this one.”

Haugrud flew out of the gate to open the 200, winning in 25.73 seconds as she held a comfortable lead the whole race.

Whitney’s race was a little dicey at the end.

He got off to a good start and in the last five or so meters was nearly caught but held on to win.

“Coming into the 200, I really didn’t expect this,” said Whitney, who was the state’s fastest in the 100 and 200 throughout the year. “I just didn’t expect it because in qualifying (on Friday) I set a personal best and didn’t think I could do anything like that again.”

He did, as Whitney’s 22.31-second march was also a personal best.

What happened to both Haugrud and Whitney in their opening races, the 100 meters, was a sign it could be a good day.

Haugrud’s race was first, and she exploded out of Lane 5 and matched the leader stride for stride before narrowly being beaten out for first place.

She finished the race in 12.57 seconds, just five-hundredths of a second out of first.

“I felt good out there,” said Haugrud, who had the best prelim time in the 100 meters on Friday. “My goal was to place in the Top 3 and I was happy with that.”

Whitney’s race was also a tight one.

The whole field looked like a phalanx coming toward the finish line until Whitney got what he called a “jolt” towards the end.

He crossed the finish line knowing he had done well, but waited for the results to find out he took first.

“In that last little bit, you look around to see who is around,” said Whitney, who finished in 11.13 seconds. “This week at practice was really about focusing on the finish line.”

Ottertail Central’s Stroh finishes strong weekend with discus title.

It looks like the shot put title will stay in the area after all.

Ottertail Central junior Stefan Stroh took first place in the shot put, throwing 159-50.

“I woke up this morning and I knew there were a lot of guys who could throw better than me,” he said. “I just had the mentality to go out there compete hard and throw a personal record.”

Stroh’s victory comes a year after Ada-Borup’s Brian Blasey took the title.

Blasey, who is committed to North Dakota State, finished fifth in the shot put a day after he won the discus over Stroh, who finished second.

With Blasey heading to college, it means Stroh could have a legitimate chance at taking two first-place medals home next year.

“At the beginning of the year I had no idea my year would end this way,” Stroh said. “As the year progressed, I felt comfortable and was just really excited about it all.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com