Walking off the track for the final time Saturday, three state meet titles and a state record added to his considerable athletic résumé, Eagan senior Sam Zenner was advised by a woman, “Tell your parents to sell your DNA.”
Zenner blazed to the 100-meter title and anchored the Wildcats’ victorious 4x100 and 4x200 relays Saturday at the Class 2A state track and field meet held at Hamline University. Eagan’s 4x100 time of 41.52 seconds set a state record.
An elite athlete for all seasons, Zenner played quarterback in Eagan’s system but was considered by some South Suburban coaches as the conference’s best running back. In March, he swam to three all-state finishes as Eagan won the Class 2A swimming and diving state title.
The craziest part about his success on the track? Zenner always played baseball prior to this spring.
“I’m very thankful for the way the team accepted me,” said Zenner, who will play football at South Dakota State.
Senior Troy Brown, a longtime friend, said: “We all begged him to run track because we know how fast he is. He wanted to stay with baseball but he finally realized it was boring.”
Transitioning to the track took time. Zenner said he stumbled out of the blocks at his first meet and learned to run the curve.
“Sam’s a fast learner,” said Brown, who handed off to Zenner in both relays. “My goal is to be at least close to the lead getting to Sam because then I know we will win it.”
Long-time records fall
Thief River Falls junior Meleah Biermaier could not stop smiling after winning the 300 hurdles in a state-record time of 42.13 seconds. Liesa (Brateng) Hanson, owner of the previous record from 1987, kept wiping away tears.
Since Biermaier first qualified for state as an eighth-grader, Hanson urged her to greatness.
“Every year I’ve been saying, ‘You’re going to break that record one day,’ ” said Hanson, who competed at Roseau and now coaches track and field at East Grand Forks. “I told her this was the year.”
Biermaier, whose father, Mike, ran with Hanson at North Dakota, felt it, too. She took off from the blocks better than ever and felt nothing holding her back.
“The record was definitely on my mind,” she said. “It was there since the start of the season.”
The next girls’ event on the track, the 800, saw the oldest girls’ state record fall. Wayzata junior Ruby Stauber ran a 2:06.5, smashing the mark set in 1984 by Jeanne Kruckeberg of Blooming Prairie by almost two seconds.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Stauber, whose father, Robb, starred in goal for the Gophers’ hockey team. “My goal was to win. The record was icing.”
Joiner bests tough field
No field could top the girls’ 100 hurdles when it came to depth, and the challenge fueled East Ridge junior Karina Joiner.
Joiner ran 14.42 seconds, beating out current state record-holder Ann Harlos of Eden Prairie, former state record holder Alexandra Williams of Blaine and 2013 event winner Rachel Schow of Rosemount.
“It was a real fast field and I’m happy I had good competition today,” Joiner said.
Records and blue ribbons
Minnesota’s fastest female? The suggestion sent a smile across Chanhassen junior Jedah Caldwell’s face.
“It fits nicely, I guess,” she said with a laugh.
Pushing through sore legs and a nasty headwind, Caldwell doubled up to win the 100 in a time of 12.16 seconds and the 200 (24.69).
North St. Paul senior Akeem Sirleaf won his third consecutive state title in the boys’ 200. His time of 21.51 edged out Robbinsdale Armstrong junior Evan McClellon by three-hundredths of a second. Sirleaf credited his distance workouts for the “extra drive to push myself.”
Rochester Century junior Andrianna Jacobs repeated as the girls’ pole vault champ, clearing 13 feet, one inch.
Lakeville South’s 4x400 relay set a state record in Friday’s preliminaries and ran even faster Saturday. The Cougars’ time of 3:50.12 and first-place finish helped them secure the team championship with 49.5 points. Wayzata scored 71.5 points to win the boys’ team title.
Hopkins senior Joe Klecker won the 1,600 in a time of 4:06.54 to sweep the distance events.