Track and field story lines
1. Distance field in flux
Two elite distance runners will see partial to no action this spring. Injury will limit Minneapolis Washburn senior Emily Covert and Tierney Wolfgram must sit out the varsity season after a recent transfer from Math and Science Academy in Woodbury to Woodbury High. Covert, winner of the past two Class 2A cross-country state meets and the 3,200-meter record holder, "has some leg pain and we want to be really careful," Millers' coach Curtis Johnson said, adding he hopes "to have her healthy by the end of the season." Wolfgram, a sophomore who in 2017 swept titles in the Class 1A cross-country meet and the 1,600 and 3,200 in track, "will not be able to compete at the varsity level for one calendar year," her mother, Karlotta, wrote in an e-mail. "Tierney is currently healing from a fracture in her left foot, so she most likely will not compete at any junior varsity meets this track season." Lauren Peterson, who won the 3,200 in 2017 then took second to Covert last spring, transferred from Farmington to Rosemount.
2. Wealth of winners
A large number of athletes return to defend their individual titles. In Class 2A, a half-dozen boys and the same number of girls seek a second gold medal. Some must fend off strong competition. In the boys' 100, champion Ethan Peal of St. Michael-Albertville could again face runner-up Evan Hull of Maple Grove. And Rosemount's Max Otterdahl, first in shot put, will be pushed by runner-up Kyle Atkinson of Burnsville. On the girls' side, expect a battle for the title of Minnesota's fastest female. North St. Paul's Shaliciah Jones won the 100 ahead of Cloquet's Kendra Kelley. In the 200, Kelley edged out Jones. And the 400 could once again come down to champion Ella Larson of Lakeville North and second-place finisher Elizabeth Acheson of Northfield.
3. Expand the state meet?
The state meet on June 7-8 could be one of the last two-class events. The Minnesota High School Track and Field Coaches Association will submit a proposal in May to the league's board seeking to add a third class for 2022. Association president and Wayzata boys' coach Aaron Berndt has said, "We put together a schedule that would work" within the meet's current two-day format at Hamline University "provided the weather doesn't limit us." According to coaches association data, Minnesota ranks sixth nationally in track and field participation numbers (about 32,000 athletes) but is the only state in the top 10 for participation to offer fewer than three classes.
David La Vaque