5/1/2014 4:00:00 PM Four Vikings invited to Hamline Elite showcase Johnson, Steele, Rinke and Burnside all shine at the annual invite meant for top competitors
The four North Branch athletes that competed at the Hamline Elite meet were (l-r) Mikayla Johnson, Arik Steele, Rhianna Rinke and Katie Burnside.
by JEFF NORTON
Mother Nature put the North Branch track and field team in a very unique position on Friday, April 25. They had to split their team three ways for three different meets because of weather delays and make ups. The most prestigious of the meets, though, only featured four of the best Vikings. The Hamline Elite Meet, which is an invite only early-season meet that features many of the top competitors from all classes in each event.
The four athletes are the most North Branch has ever featured at Hamline. They were Mikayla Johnson and Katie Burnside in the pole vault, Rhianna Rinke in the 3,200 meter run and Arik Steele in the 110 high hurdles. None of the competitors disappointed when it was their time to shine. Johnson finished third in the meet with a jump of 11’6”, which is six inches higher than her previous personal best, which earned her a seventh place finish at the state tournament last year. Burnside, the only freshman in the pole vault competition, vaulted 10 feet. “Katie is really going to have a bright future in pole vault,” girls Head Coach Norm Nagel said after the meet.
Rinke, who was seeded 14th in the long-distance run, came from behind to finish seventh in the event with a personal best time of 10:54. And in the high hurdles, Steele finished in second place with a time of 14.04 seconds. The only competitor in front of him was Jon Tollefson of St. Croix Lutheran, who ran the event in a meet-record time of 14.42 seconds.
Monticello Invitational Another faction of the Vikings participated in the Monticello Invite, which was a make up from the day before when they were rained out. The Kunshier sisters were the highlight of the Monti meet, with Maddy running a personal best 1:00.45 in the 400, which knocked over three seconds off of her previous best time. Her sister Cassie took second place in the 200 meter dash with a time of 27.46 seconds. They also participated in the Vikings’ 4x200 relay race that finished in first place. Along with them, Kadie Mattson and Jessica Stendhl took the top spot with a 1:50.11 “Maddy and Cassie are two work horses for us,” Nagel said. “They can be very versatile.” Stendhl also proved herself versatile to the cause, finishing fourth in the 110 hurdles in 18.07 seconds and seven in the 300 hurdles with a time of 52.39 seconds. Mattson and Haley Huset also leapt 4’6” in the high jump to earn points for the Vikings. The one-third of the Vikings team that did compete finished in sixth place at the invite with 50 points. Osseo won the invite with 143.5 points, just barely topping Monticello, who came in at 142 points.
Cambridge-Isanti Meet With the rest of the team competing in Monticello and at Hamline, the remaining underclassmen ran in a junior varsity type meet at Cambridge-Isanti. “It was nice to see our younger athletes compete on such a nice day,” boys Head Coach Tom Kingsland said, sympathizing with the youngsters who haven’t been able to participate on some of the few good-weathered days the team has had. “We are half way into the season and we are moving in the right direction,” Nagel said. “We are preparing ourselves for True Team on May 6 in Hibbing. I believe it’s going to come down to us and Grand Rapids for the section 7A True Team title. The girls are working hard to defend their title from last year. It should be a fun meet to watch.” The Vikings next meet is a tangle with county rival Chisago Lakes at Chisago Lakes on Friday, May 2.