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West Fargo's relay records fall at state track

Alyssa Hummel of West Fargo concentrates before throwing the shot during the finals of the event Friday at the North Dakota State track and field meet in Bismarck. Dave Wallis/The Forum1 / 2
West Fargo's Alissa Mears heads for the finish line to win the 1,600-meter event with a season-best time of 5 minutes, 7.08 seconds Friday at the North Dakota Class A track and field meet in Bismarck. Dave Wallis/The Forum2 / 2

Junior hurdler Ellie Grooters was yet again the star of the show at the state track meet in Bismarck last week as she won three state titles and helped the Packer girls track team to fourth place - the highest finish for the team in school history. The boys track team finished in seventh place behind several solid performances.

Multiple relay school records fell, including one set a quarter century ago.

"Across the board, both teams - the boys and the girls - had great performances. Both just went out and competed hard this (past) weekend, and I think the result showed that it was a very good two days for both teams and a lot of fun," said Packers coach Darin McKinnon, who was named state girls coach of the year.

Relay success

The Packer girls may be the only West Fargo team to come home with a state title, but the boys proved to be more well-rounded, finishing in the top five in all four relays, the 1600 relay (2nd), 800 relay (4th), 400 relay (4th), 3200 relay (5th). Packer sophomore Shane Hillen ran in three of the four relays, including the record-setting 800 relay along with junior Brandon Gibson and seniors Luke Solum and Billy Kuehn. The team broke a 25-year-old school record set in 1984.

On the girls side, eighth-graders Leah Hermanson and Christine Baltezore, freshman Alissa Mears and Grooters won a state championship in the 3200 relay. The quartet also broke the school record set in 1993 and set the Bismarck Community Bowl record in the event.

The Packer girls also made the finals in the other three relays, making for a very successful state track meet for West Fargo relay teams. Seventh-grader Amanda Levin ran on three West Fargo relay teams, including the school-record breaking 1600 relay with Mears, Hermanson and junior Becky Capouch. The quartet broke the school record set in 1993.

In their own class

Mears may not have defended her 3200 state title, but she did repeat as the 1600 state champion and ran in the state title-winning 3200 relay along with Grooters.

Grooters made it three state titles in a row in both the 100 and 300 hurdles. She won the 300 hurdles by almost three seconds, breaking a state record she had just set in the prelims.

"I definitely didn't think that would happen. It was a lot of fun, and it was really nice outside both days," said Grooters. "Both my grandparents were there. I was kind of nervous the second day just because I wanted to defend both my titles."

Grooters also took third in the 100.

Packer placers

Other top finishers for the Packer boys include a pair of second place finishes by out going seniors. Senior Spencer Uetz took third in the 1600, while Solum and senior Cody Mammenga picked up runner-up trophies in the long jump and shot put, respectively. Kuehn was sixth in the 400.

The Packer girls had a trio of high placers in the throwing events. Junior Maria Brekkestran took fifth in the discus, while senior Alyssa Hummel (4th) and sophomore Cherae Reeves (6th) placed in the shot put.

"I think overall with the performance at EDC - with the girls winning EDC and the boys in second place, and how the kids performed at the state meet - top to bottom, this was a great weekend for track and field," said McKinnon, "the best that I think I've been a part of."