East Ridge boys track & field: Roese, Swenson advance to state meet
East Ridge High School's Nate Roese is no stranger to the state meet.
The Raptors' junior finished second in the 400-meter dash at the 2011 Minnesota State High School League Class AA state track and field meet, and raked in a plethora of championships during the 2012 season.
As of last Thursday's Section 4AA meet in Stillwater, Roese is on his way back to the big show after winning the 400 in 48.68 seconds - a life-time personal best and school record-breaking finish - and placing third in the 200 with another school record-breaking time of 22.24.
He will be joined by fellow junior Allen Swenson, who advanced to state after finishing second in the pole vault with 12 feet, 11 inches.
"We've never had this many people qualify, as a whole," East Ridge coach Shannon Rainey said of the combined boys and girls teams. "Last year we didn't have any girls and five boys. This year, we have 10 total, so it feels like we have a mini team. That will make [the athletes] feel a lot more comfortable."
Roese returns to the state meet with an illustrious resume: He burst into the 2012 season by breaking the All-American Invitational record in the 400 with 50.43 on March 31. He was the holder of the previous record of 50.58, which he set the previous season. He also won the 200 in 23.07, which was .01 seconds away from tying that record as well. At the Elite Meet in April, he set a new 400 record with 48.72, going on to win the True Team 2AAA section meet on May 10 in 49.98 and the Suburban East Conference meet with 48.81.
Roese's year in the 200 has also been impressive: Besides placing third at the section meet, he finished fourth at both the SEC meet and True Team section meet with 22.34 and 22.93, respectively. He was one of four sprinters to qualify for state in the 200, following champion Keelon Brookins of Tartan (21.94) and runner-up Elvis Barclay of Roseville (22.21). Fourth-place finisher Quentin Mann of North St. Paul (22.45) also qualified.
Swenson's trip to the state meet comes after a 2012 campaign that began with a 10th-place finish of 11 feet at the All-American Invitational in March. He went on to place third at the Spartan Track and Field Invitational in April after clearing 12-6 and fourth at the Bob Stewart Invite on May 1 with 11-6. He soared to a second-place finish at the SEC meet, finishing with 13-6.
He advanced to state last week behind Connor O'Neil of Stillwater, who won with 13-5.
"He's had the talent and the hard work," Rainey said of Swenson. "We have a great pole vault coach, Mark Haesly. When you have a great coach and a great work ethic, really, the sky is the limit."
Every event he thought would advance to state did advance, Rainey said, with the exception of the 4x200, which was disqualified because of mismatched uniforms. The relay competed at the Elite Meet earlier this season and has been a stronghold for the Raptors in 2012. But last week, had the team not been disqualified, it would have taken third-place with a time that was still not fast enough to advance.
"It's one of the rules: You have to have the same, matching uniform," Rainey said. "If we had gotten [a qualifying time], I may have argued it a little more.
"The DQ was really the only mishap. Everyone who should have gotten in did: Nate in the 400 and 200, and I knew [Allen] had the potential to do it."
The Raptors placed in six other events: Jayden Cline was fourth in the high jump with 6-1, while William Neuenfeldt was fourth in the shot put with 47-4.5 and eighth in the discus with 131-5. East Ridge's 4x100 team, made of up Emilio Huerta, Jarred Morris, Valentin Huerta and Oludayo Ogundepo, was sixth with 44.55, and its 4x800 team, comprised of Tedros Kifle, August Ollrich, Samuel Boardman and Christian Yonkoski, took eighth with 8:48.05. Ogundepo was ninth in the 100 with 11.37.
As a team, the Raptors earned eighth place in the 16-team field with 54 points. Host Stillwater won the meet with 137 points, followed by North St. Paul with 119.5 points.