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East Ridge sophomore Brenley Goertzen runs the 800-meter race at the Class AA state meet on Saturday, June 8, at Hamline University in St. Paul. Goertzen placed eighth in the event to earn all-state honors. (Photo courtesy of Kent Johnson)

East Ridge track & field: Raptors net six all-state honors

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Nate Roese's record-breaking 400 wasn't the only standout performance for the Raptors at this year's state track and field meet.

With 17 athletes competing, East Ridge earned six all-state honors - reserved for the top nine finishes in each event - at this year's Class AA state meet, held June 7-8 at Hamline University in St. Paul.

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"Overall, I'm thrilled," East Ridge head coach Shannon Rainey said. "It's really exciting."

In the boys meet, Roese, a senior, broke a 20-year-old Minnesota all-time state meet record with a time of 47.56 seconds in the 400-meter dash to win his second state championship in the event and garnered All-State in two other events - the 200-yard dash and in the boys 1600-meter relay. Others on the relay included juniors Allan Ndovu, Bradley Simonson and August Ollrich. Their time of 3 minutes, 19.72 seconds was a personal best and an East Ridge record.

"With it being our first time being here, just to place is a great feeling," Ollrich said. "We really gave it all the last eight weeks we've been doing it."

Rainey said the boys 1600 relay should be one to watch again next year.

"With all three of those juniors coming back it'll be interesting," Rainey said. "We're losing our strongest leg, so we'll need to have everyone step up, but I think it's going to be great again."

Ollrich also earned all-state as an individual in the 400, taking sixth place with a time of 49.37. He said getting all-state was one of his goals at the start of the year.

"I give a lot of credit to Nate Roese and being able to train with him every day," Ollrich said. "He's been pushing me and I've been pushing him. It's been a great time."

In a year, Ollrich went from sixth in the conference, to sixth in the state. This past summer Rainey said Ollrich got his attention when he beat everyone in a shuttle race during a strength and conditioning camp.

"He was really fast," Rainey said. "That's when I thought he was going to be a really good 400-meter runner. He started training hard, like Nate, in the weight room three or four times a week, eating better and boom, here he is."

Also earning all-state for East Ridge this year was sophomore Brenley Goertzen, who took eighth place in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 17.86 seconds. Roseville senior Samantha Nielsen won the race in 2:13.33.

"The season was really difficult because of the weather," Goertzen said. "We didn't have many meets and I didn't feel like I was where I wanted to be. But, when I won the conference meet I got my confidence back. That was really big for me."

This year's state meet was the first for Goertzen in the 800. She also qualified for state as part of the Raptors' 1600-meter relay team.

"With Nicole (Ethier) graduating I felt like I really needed to step up this year for our team," Goertzen said. "I think I did that. It's been a fun year."

East Ridge senior Allen Swenson earned a second-straight all-state honor in his signature event - the pole vault. Swenson cleared 13 feet, 6 inches at the state meet to take eighth place. Buffalo senior Mitch Valli won the event, clearing a state-record 15 feet, 7.50 inches.

At the state meet, teams are awarded points for finishing in the top nine places in each event. A first place finish garners 12 points, second place gets 10 points, third place earns eight points, and so on. The ninth place finisher earns one point.

The Raptors boys finished seventh overall as a team with 27.5 points. Stillwater Area won the team title with 65 points and Forest Lake took second with 59.5 points. Wayzata finished third with 57 points.

In the girls state meet, the Raptors came in 55th place with 2 points. As a team, the Minnetonka girls won the state championship with 94.5 points.

Also for East Ridge, sophomore Emily Betz placed 12th with a season-best time of 10:59.76 in the finals. Shakopee senior Maria Hauger defended her state title in the race in a time of 10:26.39. Betz also helped East Ridge's 3200-meter relay team take 14th with a time of 9:39.37. Others on that squad were freshman Olivia Hummel and juniors Bailey Ness and Sandra Gramer.

East Ridge freshman Karina Joiner took fourth in her heat of the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.65, but fell just short of qualifying for the finals.

Seniors Jamila Joiner, Hannah Pignato, Megan Amend and sophomore Raven Tittle took seventh in their preliminary heat of the 800-meter relay with a time of 1:44.77 and junior Kiera Joiner, Goertzen, Amend and sophomore Kathleen Marcus placed seventh in their heat of the 1600-meter relay with a time of 4:02.90.

"I'm really proud of our 4x4 and 4x2 teams," Rainey said. "They both ran personal bests for the season in the prelims. They just missed out on the finals, but that's all you can do. When you run your personal best that's all you can ask."

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