Turning each corner, Clare Flanagan looked to the next. The Blake sophomore had no one pushing her from behind, so she challenged herself by looking ahead.
Waiting for her at the finish line was a triple crown.
With each lap of the girls' 1,600-meter final at the Class 1A track and field meet Saturday at Hamline University, Flanagan increased her lead. She finished in 4 minutes, 59.22 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of second place, and completed a run of cross-country, 3,200-meter and 1,600-meter state championships.
"That was not really my plan," Flanagan said about becoming the 12th girl in state history to win the triple crown. "I just did what my body told me I could."
She said it told her to go.
The "triple crown" title was fitting for the distance runner. Formerly a horse rider, she developed the philosophy to look ahead when jumping her horse.
"[My coach] told me look ahead to the next challenge, and it's a philosophy that worked," she said.
Though an unusual feat, Flanagan wasn't the first individual to win a triple crown Saturday. Shakopee junior Maria Hauger completed one in Class 2A earlier in the afternoon.
Longing for more
With the state girls' pole vault title and a Class 1A record (11 feet, 7 inches) in the bag, Blake freshman Carolyn Nye went for much more, raising the bar 5 inches. However, she missed all three attempts and had to settle for only one of two 1A records set in Saturday's meet.
Passing the baton from one Carstens to another, Rochester Lourdes' 4x200-meter relay team was hopeful its twins could redeem a preliminary letdown.
After Lourdes fell behind entering the final turn, Kane Carstens handed off to his brother McKay to correct things. McKay passed Waseca's Dylan Hermanstorfer to win the state title by .28 seconds, in 1:30.64.
"I knew McKay would finish it out," said senior Brian Williamson, who ran the leadoff 200 in the race. "I've never seen him lose anything."
The Beachy family added another track and field state championship to its name on Saturday. Staples-Motley sophomore Jaelin Beachy won the girls' 100- meter hurdles after not even qualifying for the event a year ago. Her father, Arden, and uncle, Collin, won state titles in the triple jump and 800-meter run.
"[Family tradition] pushes me to be better and work harder," said Beachy, who finished in 15.04 seconds. "I was feeling a lot of pressure, but it feels great."
Pine Island shot putter Kathryn Lubahn broke her own 1A record. Competing in a wheelchair, Lubahn tossed 14 feet, 0¼ inches.
Blake edged out Watertown-Mayer for the girls' championship, and Waseca won the 1A boys' championship.