Robbinsdale Armstrong senior Evan McClellon whirred down the backstretch toward a second victory, leaving other Hamline Elite Meet event champions in awe.
“Dang,” said St. Michael-Albertville senior Isaiah Weston, waiting to take the podium after winning the long jump.
That about sums it up.
McClellon swept the 100- and 200-meter titles, setting a new meet record each time.
Track and field athletes from throughout Minnesota shined on an idyllic spring evening, setting 11 new meet records.
The Minnesota State High School League track and field championships are held in June back at Hamline University in St. Paul. So the 11th annual Elite Meet offered a checkpoint for top athletes. Second in both sprint events at last year’s state meet, McClellon served notice of his intentions.
“I’m just trying to be the state record for the 100 and 200,” McClellon said.
He anticipated a battle with a friendly rival, Eden Prairie junior Denzel Brown. But McClellon arrived Friday to find Brown dropped out of the races. The duo trained together last summer for the Park Flyers club team.
McClellon won the Armstrong Invitational Meet on April 22 in 10.55 seconds, just .10 of a second off the state record set in 2003. Brown was close behind with a time of 11.06.
“He really pushes me,” McClellon said. “I wouldn’t have set that time without him.”
McClellon shined alone Friday. He ran the 100 in 10.57 and the 200 in 21.36.
Few athletes matched St. Michael-Albertville junior Anna Keefer’s workload. She competed in four events, the 100, 200, long jump and 4x100 relay. She captured titles in the long jump (17 feet, 7 ¾ inches) and as the leadoff leg of the 4x100 relay (48.77 seconds).
She felt most confident about her long jump chances “but something was off. I wasn’t jumping my best so I’m glad I got the victory.” The 4x100 brought nothing but smiles. She stood on the infield stage with teammates Cherish Witherspoon, Katelyn Tschida and Whitney Perry and helped the crowd serenade Witherspoon by singing “Happy Birthday.”
Six months to the day since a knee injury ended his football season and put his track season in limbo, Apple Valley senior Kieran McKeag celebrated with a shot put title.
His mark of 56 feet, 10 inches was made all the more impressive considering he was cleared to throw Monday morning. Friday’s victory gave him an emotional lift as McKeag seeks to repeat as the Class 2A state champion in June.
“Still warming up, I like to say,” McKeag said. “But I’m proud of it.”
Best in the classes
The Elite Meet format allows top athletes regardless of class to compete in the same events.
Pine Island senior Kyle Groven, a top Class 1A competitor, and St. Francis junior Genuine Matthews (2A) made the most of a rare showdown in the 400.
Matthews won the event in 48.75 seconds, shaving more than two seconds of his previous personal best.
Groven, who had clocked the state’s fastest 400-meter time this spring, set a new school record time (48.95 seconds).
“I ran the fastest I ever have ran and got second,” Groven said. “I can’t complain. Knowing that I can run a 48 is huge for me.”
Chanhassen senior Jedah Caldwell won the 100 and 200. … East Ridge senior Karina Joiner, defending Class 2A champion in the 100 hurdles, reset her Elite Meet record with a time of 14.48. “It meant a lot,” Joiner said. “It’s my senior year and I wanted to go big.” … Bloomington Kennedy junior Honour Finley won the 400, the same event she won at state last spring.