Hopkins senior Austin Salargo admitted he charged through the boys' 800-meter run at Friday's Hamline Elite Meet with more guts than guile.

Seeded first in the field despite running just one open 800 race this spring and three in his entire track career, Salargo called on the experience of winning the Class 2A state 400 title last June.

"I went into it thinking, 'I can run a 400 pretty well, so I can out-kick all these 800 guys,'" Salargo said. "In a sense, that's what I did."

Closing speed made all the difference as Salargo's winning time of 1 minute, 57 seconds put him less than a second ahead of the next three runners.

Worried he was getting boxed in early during the first lap, Salargo found openings and used the straight-aways to pick off runners. Despite his success, Salargo said Friday's 800 will "probably be my last one this year" as he focuses on defending his 400 title.

January heating up

Don't misunderstand Richfield junior Jessica January. She was ecstatic about leading the Spartans to the Class 3A girls' basketball state tournament championship game in March, but the extended season cut into her track and field preparation.

Nevertheless, January won her third consecutive 100-meter hurdle title in a time of 15.23 seconds. She will take a patient approach toward winning her third consecutive Class 2A state title in June.

"I only had about two weeks of practice, so I'm nowhere near close to being in shape," she said. "I have to work way harder during practice to try and catch up on what I've missed."

Gran flirts with record

Mounds View senior Jagger Gran entered Friday's meet with a personal-best pole vault height of 15 feet, 1 inch. He nearly left with a state record. Gran soared to a mark of 15-7, just an inch shy of the all-time mark. He fell short on two attempts but feels optimistic the mark is within his reach.

"It's only halfway through the season, so if things keep going the way they're going, I think it's possible," Gran said.


• State-record holding throwers Tom Anderson of Andover and Maggie Ewen of St. Francis defended their Elite Meet titles in shot put and discus, respectively, but did not challenge their personal bests. Anderson won with a new meet record distance of 61-2¾. Ewen recorded a throw of 154-7.

• Roseville's Samantha Nielsen provided the evening's most dramatic finish, running down Haylie Zenner of Fergus Falls in the final moments of the 800. Nielsen won with a meet-record time of two minutes, 11.11 seconds. Zenner clocked a time of 2:11.35.

• Nine meet records were set or tied despite chilly, windy conditions.