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East Ridge girls track & field: Raptors sending nine to state

East Ridge's Megan Amend is one of nine Raptors girls to reach the state meet. Amend qualified as part of the East Ridge 1600-meter and 800-meter relay teams.

After winning at least two of their last five meets, three relay teams from East Ridge High School's girls track and field team will compete at the Minnesota State High School League Class AA state meet Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul.

The Raptors' 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter relay teams qualified for the state meet by finishing in either first or second place at the Section 4AA tournament last Tuesday and Thursday at Stillwater High School.

Emily Betz, Brenley Goertzen, Sandra Gramer and Nicole Ethier won the 3200-meter relay with a time of 9 minutes, 27.41 seconds. The 1600-meter team, made up of Kiera Joiner, Megan Amend, Goertzen and Ethier, and the 800 team, comprised of Raven Tittle, Amend, Alicia Ickstadt and Brianna Schmitt, were runner-up in 3:59.38 and 1:44.89, respectively.

"To get this many relays into the state meet is extremely difficult, so that was awesome for us," said East Ridge coach Lloyd Ness.

In a repeat of the Suburban East Conference meet, East Ridge's 4x200 and 4x400 teams were second only to Stillwater. Though this time around, both teams shaved about three seconds off their times. Both relays also go into the state meet after winning or placing second in its last five meets.

Last week's performance in the 4x800, however, was starkly different than its conference performance: After finishing in sixth-place with 9:47.00 at the SEC meet, the Raptors won the 4x800 section meet. The contribution of Ethier and Goertzen, who were added to the relay after running exceptionally well at conference, helped the relay team lock the state-qualifying spot, Ness said.

"Our goal for sections was to get kids to state," Ness said. "If you go to the state meet by yourself, it's a lot of fun, but this way, you can share the pressure with your teammates. When you're an individual, it's you against the world. I think it worked out for the best."

The Raptors had several other girls place at the section meet. The 4x100 team, comprised of Jamila Joiner, Jordan Weiss, Ickstadt and Osereme Abulu, took third with 50.58. Kiera Joiner was fourth in the 400 with 1:00.59 and Bailey Ness took sixth in the 1600 with 5:21.74 and eighth in the 3200 with 11:44.04. Karina Joiner was seventh in the 100-meter hurdles with 16.18 and eighth in the 300 hurdles with 48.86. Sara Press was eighth in the pole vault with 8 feet, 4 inches, and Jamila Joiner was ninth in the 100 with 13.15.

As a team, East Ridge finished ninth out of 16 teams with 57.5 points. Stillwater won with 156 points, followed by Roseville with 93 points.