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Chris Murphy, Published June 07 2013

Teamwork allows Yellowjackets distance runners to finish second, third in 3,200 meters

ST. PAUL – In the first lap of the 3,200 meters at the Minnesota Class 1A state track and field meet, Perham’s Keeghan Hurley looked over at teammate Brady Speicher and said, “Let’s do this. Let’s do this together.”

The two formed a wall and for most of the race were holding the top two spots, but in the final sprint returning champ Charlie Lawrence broke away for the win Friday at Hamline University.

Just as Hurley and Speicher had done leading Perham’s cross country team to a state championship and the track team to a section championship, the runners finished together. Hurley took second with a time of 9 minutes, 34.67 seconds and Speicher used a dead sprint with Washington Technology Magnet’s Ashenafi Hatte inches away from the finish line to finish right where the senior belonged in his final race with Hurley: right next to him, 0.07 seconds ahead of Hatte at 9:39.36 for third place.

“We knew Charlie was defending, so we knew he was going to do what he needed to do to win,” Speicher said. “Neither of us were planning on leading at all in the race, but after the first 200 meters, Keeghan said for us to do this and from there on we almost did.”

Speicher couldn’t imagine a better note to end his individual high school running career before he runs at Minnesota State Moorhead next year.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Speicher said. “We’ve been working together all season. It’s something special when you put two of the top three in the state. I can’t think of a better way to go out as a senior than with my teammate in the top three.”

For Hurley, this was exactly what he was imagining when he transferred from Fergus Falls to Perham as a sophomore.

“I transferred in for that special moment,” Hurley said. “To come through and have another distance runner like Brady is exactly what I transferred for. I couldn’t ask for much more than Perham. It’s a great school, great town. It’s perfect.”

Hurley made the ultimate sacrifice to be with the Yellowjackets. After transferring, he was forced to sit out in swimming, cross country and track, all of which he qualified for state before coming to Perham. For nights like Friday, it was all worth it.

“It just feels good to be back at the state meet and to do it like this was nearly perfect,” Hurley said. “It was the last time I get to run with him before he goes off to MSUM, so it was a pretty special moment for us and Perham today. No one was taking a lead and we almost got one-two, but Charlie has the faster kick than everyone and he got it. We were close to perfect, and you can’t ask for much more than that. I think it really represents Perham distance and who we are.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548