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East Ridge's track and field standouts

East Ridge track and field athletes Allyson Weiss (left) and Ansley Schug have established themselves as state contenders this season. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia

If you ever question the importance of hard work, ask East Ridge track and field athletes Allyson Weiss and Ansley Schug about what they did this offseason.

Both athletes are reaching new heights in their track and field seasons thanks to the payoff of work they did in offseason programs. Both Weiss and Schug trained at REDLine Human Performance in Woodbury and also received instruction from track and field coach Shani Johnson with the referral of coach Kelsey Joson. The work has paid off, as big performances by the two athletes at the Hamline Elite Meet a few weeks ago has put Class 2A programs on notice.

Before this year, Schug had never competed at the Hamline Elite Meet or made an appearance in the Class 2A state tournament. Now the North Dakota State University commit is in the running for a state title after taking first place in the 100-meter hurdles April 28 at the Hamline Elite Meet.

"Last year I didn't go to state, and even in the summer in the Junior Olympics, I didn't make it to nationals. Which is what I wanted to do," Schug said. "Usually I play basketball, but this year I didn't play basketball. I just did a bunch of preseason training."

Before this season, Schug had never qualified for the Class 2A state meet. But the East Ridge senior ran a 100-meter hurdle time of 14.64 to win the Hamline title. The victory came as a surprise to the Raptors' senior.

"I knew I had improved a lot, but once I won Hamline and I ran a 14.64, I was like, 'Holy crap, I actually improved a lot,'" Schug said.

The senior has some newfound confidence after winning the Hamline Elite Meet title. Last season, she just missed state qualification after taking third in the Class 2A, Section 4 110-meter hurdles finals with a time of 15.58. Roseville's Erin Beyer grabbed the final state spot by taking second with a time of 15.20.

But with a sub-15 second time under her belt this season, Schug has set some new goals for the end of the season.

"I definitely want to try to win state now, because now I know where I am and where my preseason training has gotten me," Schug said.

Weiss is in a different position as the defending state champion in the triple jump last year. Then a sophomore, Weiss said she had a good feeling even before she nailed the jump of 38-09.25 feet that ended up clinching the title at state.

"Right before by sixth jump I had so much energy, and I felt a big jump coming on," Weiss recalled. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is my time.' And then after I jumped and heard the distance, I was so excited."

Weiss spent the offseason working on a change to her triple jump technique, altering her approach from a single arm to a double arm technique. But since she did not have enough time to perfect the technique, she has since switched back to the single arm technique for the season.

"That didn't end up transferring very well to my jumps, so I switched back," Weiss said. "I think changing in the offseason helped me realize what I can do with my previous technique. Even though it hurt me then and there, I think it helped me in the long run."

Weiss nailed a personal best jump of 39-11.50 feet at the Hamline Elite Meet to take home the title. The jump broke the meet record in the triple jump.

While that is the best jump of her career so far, she has her sights set on an even bigger mark this year. She has completed jumps of more than 40 feet that were later wiped out due to scratches.

She certainly has made that mark one of her goals for this season.

"I want to jump over 40, and I want to break the state record," Weiss said. "That's over a foot from my PR right now, so if that doesn't happen this year, hopefully, I will do it next year before I graduate."

Now a junior, Weiss has continued to draw the attention of college coaches hoping to recruit the triple jump champion to their teams after she graduates from East Ridge. While she hopes to continue competing in track and field post high school, she so far has not pursued any official visits to start narrowing down her prospective college field.

"I'm keeping my mind open right now because I really don't know what I want to do or where I want to go," Weiss said.

The two talented athletes have also been helping the East Ridge girls' track and field team in the relays. Schug and Weiss teamed up with Alexandra Doty and Nicole Tanski to run a 4x200-meter relay time of 1:44.34 to break a school record and finish second at the Hamline Elite Meet.

While they still don't know which relay it will be, Joson expects East Ridge to put together a competitive team for the big postseason meets coming up later this month.

"We have been trying to put together a relay for our girls' team," Joson said. "It's kind of like we pick and choose where we want them to go because they both are capable of running 400s, they both are capable of running 200s. And if we wanted them to, they both are capable of running 100s. So it's kind of strategically placing them where we have strengths in other areas, too."