State medals come home with relay runners

 

Hope Humphrey clipped East Ridge’s Raven Tittle down the home stretch when the Tiger girls 4x100 relay set a team record in Friday’s prelims at Class AA State.  Photos by Greg Hunt

Hope Humphrey clipped East Ridge’s Raven Tittle down the home stretch when the Tiger girls 4×100 relay set a team record in Friday’s prelims at Class AA State. Photos by Greg Hunt

Going from the sunny heat of Friday’s Day 1 to a wet Day 2 morning at State track, the Princeton girls 4×100 relay squad brought home sixth-place medals from their work on the Hamline University facility.

The grade-level mix of sprinters sophomore Taylor Laabs, junior Anna Oakes, senior Katie Bialka and eighth grader Hope Humphrey clicked in the Class AA prelims and finals to update their record in the Princeton track annals.

“In one word: ‘Outstanding!’ These girls did everything right at the State meet and made school history with a first-ever Princeton girls relay team placing, along with breaking their school record by more than a half second,” described Tiger Coach Tom Ostroot. “We went in to this meet seeded 13th of the 16 teams that advanced. In the prelims, on a perfect weather day, they ran the fastest time in school history (49.39 seconds) to advance as the No. 8 seed into the finals.

Taylor Laabs, Anna Oakes, Katie Bialka and Hope Humphrey with their sixth-place relay medals after running a 49.54 in Saturday’s wet finals at Hamline University (photo submitted)

Taylor Laabs, Anna Oakes, Katie Bialka and Hope Humphrey with their sixth-place relay medals after running a 49.54 in Saturday’s wet finals at Hamline University (photo submitted)

“In spite of the persistent rain on Saturday, they ran their best race of the year to finish sixth. It wasn’t their fastest time, but because of the weather, nobody was running their fastest times. But it was tactically their best race ever. Anytime you are in an outside lane (we were in lane 8 for the finals), it makes it difficult because you can not see the rest of the field behind you. Our girls had to concentrate on running their best race, and they did. Each handoff was clean and at the finish only .21 seconds separated second to sixth places… nobody at the meet was sure which team finished where until it came up on the scoreboard. It was one of the best races I have ever watched at the State meet– a perfect way to end the 2014 track & field season.”

Katie Bialka closed out a fantastic Tiger track career by also competing in the 300-meter hurdles at State.

Katie Bialka closed out a fantastic Tiger track career by also competing in the 300-meter hurdles at State.

Laabs opened the State action early Friday morning by clearing 16-01 in the girls long jump on the west side of the Hamline complex.

“Taylor went in seeded 22nd of 24 long jumpers. On what turned out to be a difficult day for all long jumpers, she competed very well and on her final attempt jumped over 16 feet to move up the rankings and finish in 18th place,” said Coach Ostroot.

The final Tiger State entry was Bialka striding to a 46.9 time in the 300m hurdles prelims later on Friday.

“We knew it was going to be a tough field of Class AA hurdlers, and it certainly was as it took a time of under 45 seconds to make the finals. Katie ran her absolute best at the State meet, finishing with a season-best time of 46.93 in the prelims to place 21st overall.”

 

Taylor Laabs leaping to 16-01 in the Class AA girls long jump competition.

Taylor Laabs leaping to 16-01 in the Class AA girls long jump competition.

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