Pelican Rapids rallies for dramatic relay victory
Pelican Rapids sophomore Tatianna Wiley told her track and field coach that her legs were toast after she finished sixth in the 400 meters at the Minnesota Class 1A state track and field meet on Saturday. Vikings girls track and field coach John Peter told her that it was Day 2 of the state track meet, everyone's legs were toast.
Peter reminded his 1,600 relay that by the time that event starts, everyone has tired legs. It's the final race of the state track and field meet. He told them it was going to be about who had the most heart.
Pelican Rapids was in third when Wiley began the final 100 meters of the 1,600 relay. She crossed the finish line first, giving the Vikings their first Class 1A state track and field title, boy or girls, since 2012. They finished with a run of 3 minutes, 59.56 seconds, 0.10 seconds ahead of Stewartville and 0.16 ahead of Belle Plaine.
“I could see the girl ahead of me starting to slow down, I could see her body starting to give,” Wiley said. “At the same time, I had Stewartville on my shoulder. I just used my adrenaline. I used everything I have to break away from both of them.”
Peter switched the starter from the preliminaries to junior Maddie Guler. Guler wasn't as fast as the runner she switched out with, but she had the Vikings in a close second in the first leg of the relay.
“I told her when all the chips are down, I'm gonna bet on her because of her experience,“ Peter said. “She came through. She proved she could open.”
Junior Abby Syverson and sophomore Chloe Paulson had Pelican Rapids in second to start the final leg, but Belle Plaine got some separation, leading by 1.13 seconds. Stewartville wasn't going away either, as the Vikings jumped back and forth for second and third with the Tigers. Both closed on Belle Plaine, but it was Wiley's run of 58.503 in the final 400 that pushed past both runners.
After crossing the finish line, Wiley turned and looked for her family and her relay team.
“I wanted to see my team and my family and see their faces,“ Wiley said. “I didn't believe what I just did.”
Outside of telling the relay team every runner had tired legs, Peter also told them to have fun, as he always preached throughout the season.
“That was fun,“ Peter texted his wife after the race.
Wiley was also a finalist in the 400m race placing sixth in 59.50 after a fifth place preliminary finish (58.38). Her prelims time set a new school record.
Senior Eli Sytsma completed his Vikings career tying a Pelican Rapids school record in the triple jump of 42-10 and finished in seventh place.
(Tribune Sports Editor Robert Williams contributed to this story)