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The new standard: Lakers punch tickets to state in seven events at the 8-2A track and field championships

It's been three years since the Detroit Lakes boys have been represented at the state Class 2A track and field championships, and it's been six years for the girls. With the help of an added class to the track and field landscape, a motivated group of Lakers set the new standard for success for years to come.

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Detroit Lakes' Jerzie Horner, left, and Garrett Penton high five after Horner hits her personal best and section championship-winning pole vault at 10, feet, 1-inch on the second day of the Section 8-2A track and field championships at Alexandria Area High School on June 4, 2022. Horner is one of seven state qualifiers for Detroit Lakes. It's the first time any girls athlete has qualified since 2016.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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ALEXANDRIA – The Minnesota State High School League expanded the track and field to a three-class system last summer. It opened the door for Detroit Lakes to have a celebratory day two at the Section 8-2A track and field championships.

The Lakers are sending 10 kids to compete in seven events at St. Michael-Albertville High School from June 10-11 in the Class 2A state meet. It's the first time Detroit Lakes has had a boys athlete compete since 2019, while a Laker girl hasn't made the trip since 2016.

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Detroit Lakes' Mason Carrier, left, lifts boys head coach Dylan Surface after Carrier and the 4x100-meter relay team qualified for state with a second-place finish on the second day of the Section 8-2A track and field championships at Alexandria Area High School on June 4, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Abby Larson

Detroit Lakes junior Abby Larson was the top-seeded runner in the 100-meter dash. She beat her seed time by 0.46 seconds to finish first on Saturday with a time of 12.63.

Larson also took second place in the 200-meter race with a time of 26.26. She was 0.02 off of Rocori's Cecelia Woods for first place.

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"Last year, I wanted to go to state in the 100-meter really bad, but it was harder to do it against some bigger schools," Larson said. "My goal was to go in the 100-meter to make up for last year. I didn't know for sure if I would do the 200-meter because I was ranked second in the section. I did it just to see what happens. I wanted to push myself to beat Cecilia because she's an amazing athlete. I always seem to push myself harder when there are girls ahead of me."

Larson is headed to STMA in three events. She anchored the 4x200-meter relay with Ella Paulson, Annie Paulson and Mallory Fischer. They took second place with a time of 1:47.18.

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Detroit Lakes' Abby Larson , left, and Rocori's Cecelia Woods takes second and first in the 200-meter dash. Woods beat Larson by 0.02 for the section championship. Both woll compete at the state meet.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"When we went to state true team, we did pretty well there," Larson said. "When you come to sections, and it's all individual, it's nice to make it to state with a (relay) team. I like being with my teammates and doing this with them…There was a lot of tough competition at true team, and it's a lot like what sections and state is like. It was good that we went (to state true team), and I think it prepared a lot of us for today."

The Detroit Lakes girls track and field team has many standouts, and Larson is one of them. As one of the top runners in the section, she knows the bar is set higher for herself.

"I would definitely say so," Larson said on if she met her own expectations for the Section 8-2A championships. "I knew I was ranked near the top for my events, so I knew I couldn't let the pressure overtake that and not do as well as I wanted to. I had to overcome that and do the best I could do."

Annie Paulson

Assistant coach Peter Paulson has been working with track and field teams for over a decade.

Paulson has brought his daughters, Ella and Annie, around the track since they were little kids. One year, when he needed to be on the infield, he would register Annie as a coach and have her watch the field events when she was seven years old.

What started as a way not to have his small child sit in the grandstand without supervision turned into Annie's love for the sport and a pair of state tournament berths on Saturday.

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Detroit Lakes' Annie Paulson runs the 300-meter hurdles to a second-place finish with a time of 46.59 on the second day of the Section 8-2A track and field championships at Alexandria Area High School on June 4, 2022. Paulson qualified for state in the 300-meter hurdles and the 4x200-meter relay.
Jared Rubado / Detroit lakes Tribune

"I've been coming to these since I was little, so it's awesome to be the one competing like I always wanted to when I was a kid," Annie said. "To do the thing that I always looked up to the big kids doing is kind of surreal when you think about it."

The Paulson sisters hand the baton to each other after the first leg of the 4x200-meter relay. After Annie clinched one state berth with her sister, Fischer and Larson, she took on Woods in the 300-meter hurdles. She finished in second place with a time of 46.59.

"I haven't raced against her since the beginning of the season," Paulson said of Woods. "I love her. She's so amazing. I wish I was as good as her, but she pushes me to be my best when I'm chasing her. It's fun going up against her."

This was Paulson's last chance to accomplish a goal set out since she was "coaching" track and field athletes as a child. She's ready to compete on the state's biggest stage.

"Obviously, I'm a senior, so this was my last year to go for it," Paulson said. "It's awesome to go down there as a team and bring a lot of people. It makes me so happy. This is all of our first times going to state (for track). I'm just really excited to experience it."

Jerzie Horner

Detroit Lakes junior Jerzie Horner is one of two Lakers to have competed at a state tournament in another sport this season.

While Larson went to state with the girls basketball team, Horner helped lead the Laker gymnasts to a sixth-place finish in February. Now, she'll try her hand at state in the pole vault.

Horner set her personal best mark at 10-feet, 1-inch to win the Section 8-2A title. She beat out Daniel Schirmers by two inches to clinch her first track and field state berth.

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"It's just an amazing feeling, and I wouldn't be here without my amazing coaching from (Garrett) Penton," Horner said. "It feels so good to go from not even being on the podium last year to coming here today and winning it."

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Detroit Lakes' Jerzie Horner prepares to pole vault on the second day of the Section 8-2A track and field championships at Alexandria Area High School on June 4, 2022. Horner qualified for state with a section championship and personal best height of 10-feet, 1-inch.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Coming into high school, Horner wasn't convinced she'd be a pole vaulter, much less a section champion. Her first time in the pit was at the beginning of the spring season in 2021.

"Oh gosh, I was terrified," Horner said of her first time pole vaulting. "Since I was in middle school, I had people telling me I should pole vault because I'm a gymnast. I was always like, 'That is way too scary for me. No way.' Finally, Penton got me over to the pole vault pit doing some drills. Now, here I am."

Horner has looked up to Laker of the past in her rise to becoming a section champion. Kyley Foster, a former University of North Dakota track and field athlete and Indoor Summit League Champion, has the bar set high for the Laker junior.

"It feels awesome to be the first pole vaulter to go to state since Kyley Foster," Horner said. "She's been a really big person for me to look up to since I've started pole vaulting. My goal is to break her school record, but it just feels great going to state with all of my best friends. I'm excited to go with a bunch of girls and not just a couple."

Brandton Marsh

Coming into the two-day section meet, Brandton Marsh believed his best chance to make it to state was in the triple jump. He didn't qualify, but he regrouped and turned some heads with a second-place long jump finish for his first trip to state.

"If you do bad one day, you have to let it go and put it in the past," Marsh said. "I look forward to doing my best the next time after I have a bad day."

Marsh set a personal best mark at 20-feet, 3.5-inches in the long jump. The sophomore is proud to be part of a young core that's headed to STMA.

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Detroit Lakes' Brandton Marsh gives a fist bump to Pequot Lakes' Cruz Megazzini after finishing second in the long jump and qualifying for state with a jump of 20-feet, 3.25-inches on the second day of the Section 8-2A track and field championships at Alexandria Area High School on June 4, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"It feels good," Marsh said. "It's kind of crazy. I was put in this spot last week, and I put up a good score. I did it again today, and now I'm going to state. I'm happy I got my (personal record)."

"We have a young squad with a bright future ahead of us. It's exciting for a lot of us to get to experience what state will be like… I'm excited to see how good the competition is. I'm ready to expose myself to all of it."

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Detroit Lakes' Ethan Carrier runs the final leg of Detroit Lakes' second place 4x100-meter relay to a time of 43.95 on the second day of the Section 8-2A track and field championships at Alexandria Area High School on June 4, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Marsh was one of five boys athletes to qualify for state. The 4x100-meter relay team of Cameron Marxen, Mason Carrier, Hunter Zempel and Ethan Carrier finished in second place at 43.95.
The Lakers girls finished in fourth place in the team standings with 73.75 points while the boys tallied 45 points for sixth place. In front of a large Detroit Lakes contingent at Alexandria Area High School, the Lakers set a new standard for seasons to come.

"It means a lot to have the support," Marsh said. "Our parents and the community and stuff really support young athletes out here on the track. It's pretty great."

Full two-day results from the Section 8-2A championships can be found here. The schedule for the state Class 2A meet beginning June 10 is here.

DETROIT LAKES GIRLS SECTION 8-2A TRACK AND FIELD FINALS RESULTS

(Top two in each event, or athletes who meet the state standard, qualify for the Class 2A state meet)

100M- 1st- Abby Larson 12.63 (state qualifier)

200M- 2nd- Abby Larson 26.26 (state qualifier)

800M- 9th- Amaya LeCleir 2:35.72

1600M- 10th- Julia Steffl 12:26.85

100M HURDLES- 3rd- Rylee Johnson 16.61

300M HURDLES- 2nd- Annie Paulson 46.59 (state qualifier)

4x100M RELAY- 4th- Detroit Lakes 51.86

4x200M RELAY- 2nd- Ella Paulson, Annie Paulson, Mallory Fischer, Abby Larson 1:47.18 (state qualifier)

4x400M RELAY- 10th- Detroit Lakes 4:45.41

4x800M RELAY-4th- Detroit Lakes 10:05.83

POLE VAULT- 1st- Jerzie Horner 10-feet, 1-inch (state qualifier), T7th- 8-feet, 4-inches, 13th- Skylar Nelson 7-feet, 10-inches

TRIPLE JUMP- 9th- Lily Anderson 32-feet, 5.25-inches, 13th- Annie Paulson 31-feet, 7-inches

SHOT PUT- 8th- Jacee Hauser 32-feet, 7-inches, 9th- Brenna Skadsem 32-feet, 6.25-inches, 20th- Alexis Gerdes 28-feet, 2.5-inches

DETROIT LAKES BOYS SECTION 8-2A TRACK AND FIELD FINALS RESULTS

(Top two in each event, or athletes who meet the state standard, qualify for the Class 2A state meet)

100M- 4th- Ethan Carrier 11.40, 7th- Mason Carrier 11.56

3200M- 12th- Brayden Francis 10:57.82, 22nd- Micah Barberg 11:45.88

110M HURDLES- 6th- Zach Olson 16.68, 7th- Alexander Fletcher 16.93

300M HURDLES- Zach Olson 45.1

4x100M RELAY- Cameron Marxen, Mason Carrier, Hunter Zempel, Ethan Carrier 43.95 (state qualifier)

4x200M RELAY- 6th- Detroit Lakes 1:35.39

4x400M RELAY- 10th- Detroit Lakes 3:48.53

4x800M RELAY- 8th- Detroit Lakes 9:33.73

HIGH JUMP- 5th- Evan Thomas 5-feet, 7-inches

LONG JUMP- 2nd- Brandton Marsh 20-feet, 3.25-inches, 18th- Noah Larson 17-feet, 6.5-inches

DISCUS- 10th- Lawson Greene 118-feet, 4-inches, 12th- Jacob Ehnert 112-feet, 11-inches

SECTION 8-2A GIRLS TEAM SCORES

1st- Alexandria 165.75, 2nd- Rocori 130.75, 3rd- Willmar 35, 4th- Detroit Lakes 73.75, 5th- Pequot Lakes 72, 6th- Little Falls 49.5, 7th- Thief River Falls 36, 8th- Albany 21, 9th- Fergus Falls 20, 10th- Melrose 15.5, East Grand Forks 19.75, 12th- New London-Spicer 13

SECTION 8-2A BOYS TEAM SCORES-

1st- Alexandria 169.5, 2nd- Willmar 142.5, 3rd- Fergus Falls 81, 4th- Rocori 67, 5th- Pequot Lakes 60.5, 6th- Detroit Lakes 45, 7th- Little Falls 41, 8th- East Grand Forks 40, 9th- Albany 28, 10th- New London-Spicer 14.5, 11-th Thief River Falls 7, Melrose Area 6

Related Topics: TRACK AND FIELD
Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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