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Track and Field: True Team helps Eagles' relays gear up for last leg

Relay teams provided a couple of bright spots for New Life Academy in the Class 1A, Section 4 True Team meet May 9 at Maple Lake.

The Eagles boys and girls have small track and field teams this year with 24 athletes overall — eight girls and 16 boys. Eagles coach Kristen Hawkins said they're a "really close-knit team."

"I think it makes a big difference in our relays because doing it for each other, I think, gives them all an extra motivation," Hawkins said.

The Eagles boys 4x100-meter relay team of juniors Chase Swenson, Connor Maxwell, Mark Rygh and Eric Finley took fourth at 47.43 seconds. They finished a little over a second behind third-place St. Croix Prep's 46.22 and second-place Concordia Academy's 46.21.

"I think all the guys would say that that's their favorite race," Hawkins said.

In the 4x800 relay, the Eagles took fifth at 9:16.49. They finished less than seven seconds back of fourth-place Trinity School. Eagles junior Noah Burroughs led off the relay followed by freshmen Isaiah Avery and Riley Grahek, and junior AJ Mally

New Life Academy's 4x100 girls' relay team took sixth at 54.45. Sophomores Emily Bakken and Robin Ahlquist along with ninth-graders Hannah Saunders and Hannah George ran the event. Hawkins sees it as an event that's coming around for her team.

"We had a few girls sprinters who were out at the beginning of the season, and now they're back again," Hawkins said. "They're looking really strong and should have a good race at conference and sections."

It marked the best finish of the day for the Eagles girls squad, but several individuals finished in the top 10 too. George took eighth in the girls 100 at 13.59 seconds, and Bakken placed ninth at 13.62. Ahlquist placed 10th in the 400 at 1:06.89.

On the boys' side, Avery had the top individual finish with eighth in the 800 at 2:12.91.

The True Team meets provide teams the opportunity to field all of their athletes for scoring in a meet, which limits how much a small team such as New Life Academy can score. The section meets took place through Saturday, May 13, and the state True Team meets will commence at Stillwater for Friday and Saturday.

The Eagles girls' team finished 17th out of 19 schools at 262.5 points in the Section 4A True Team meet. Maple Lake won the girls' title at 1,137.5 points.

Maple Lake also won the boys' title at 1,003.5 points. New Life Academy finished last at 14th with 450.5 points.

"For being so small, I think we do really well," Hawkins said.

New Life Academy returned to the track Tuesday, May 16, for the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association championship meet in Hastings, which took place after press deadlines. The Eagles have the Section 4A championship meet around the corner June 1 at Macalester College.

New Life Academy's relay teams hope to show up strong at the Section 4A final as they did in Maple Lake.

"Our section's really tough," Hawkins said. "Hand-offs will have to be flawless."

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