It sounded like a hair-brained idea last March.
The thought was that Zack Haffner, Matt Huberty, Jake Lynch and Brandon Landowski could form really fast 400- and 800-meter relay teams for Sauk Rapids.
The hard part is that in high school meets, the races run very close to each other. It makes for almost no recovery time and the need to get ready for the next race almost instantly. It could’ve hurt the team’s chances to qualify for state in either event.
But Storm head coach Loren Finlayson decided to give it a try, anyway.
It paid off.
Sauk Rapids has qualified for the state track and field championships Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul in both events. Making it even more challenging, Haffner is competing in the long jump and Lynch has qualifed in the 300 hurdles.
That’s three events in a row against the best in the state.
“We were kind of planning to have those guys together from the get-go,” Finlayson said of Haffner and Huberty, both seniors, and Lynch and Landowski, both juniors. “As we got into the season, we thought the four-by-200 would be their best option.
“But after a while it became apparent that the four-by-one would be good for them, too.”
The Sauk Rapids foursome are part of dozens of area athletes competing at state over the next two days.
Friday’s schedule features finals in Class 2A’s boys and girls 3,200-meter run (at 9 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.) and in the long jump, triple jump, pole vault, high jump, shot put and discus.
In Class A, the session starts at 3:23 p.m. with the national anthem. The boys and girls 3,200 finals are set for 6:14 p.m. and 6:27 p.m. Finals also happen in the long jump, triple jump, pole vault, high jump, shot put and discus.
Everything else in both classes are preliminaries, with finals set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in Class 2A and 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Class A.
“I think it’s going to be a really great experience,” Lynch said of his hectic, three-even state schedule.
Like his relay teammates, Lynch is supporting a blond-dyed mohawk. Landowski was the last to come to the unique haircut party because his job won’t allow unusual hairstyles.
“It’s good for the weekend,” Landowski said as his teammates laughed.
He doesn’t have to work until next week, when he can go back to a more conventional haircut.
“I knew we had the potential (to go to state), right from the first meet in the four-by-2,” Huberty said. “I didn’t have a clue about the four-by-1.”
“We never even thought about it at first,” said Haffner, who is headed to Minnesota-Duluth in the fall, where he hopes to be a walk-on on the football team.
“Some of the meets were pretty tough,” Huberty said. “I didn’t even get to take off my spikes or anything.”
Friday will be a challenging day for the Storm.
They are long-shots to qualify for the finals in the 800 relay (1 minute, 31.37 seconds) and the 400 relay (43.62). The same holds true for Lynch in the 300 hurdles (40.46) and Haffner in the long jump (21-3).
They are aiming for personal records. We’ll see where that gets them.
* Sauk Centre senior Elizabeth Hemsworth has the top seed in the Class A girls 400 (56.99). She’s also the top seed in the 200 (25.79).
* Foley’s Tyler Beehler has the top seed in the boys Class A 200 (22.36). The sophomore has the third-best seed in the 100 (11.22).
* St. Cloud Christian’s McKenzie Holt is the No. 2 seed in the Class A girls 1,600 (5:08.13).
* Sartell’s Josh Lieberg had a height of 6-6 in the boys’ Class 2A high jump. That’s one inch behind the co-leaders. Lieberg’s also third-seeded in the triple jump (45-1).
* Sartell’s Tanner Nordlund has the fourth best pole vault in Class 2A boys at 14-3.
* Melrose junior Morgan Kingston’s height of 5-3 in the Class A girls high jump is two inches short of the top seeds.
* Another race to watch in Class A boys is the 1,600. Cathedral’s Nick Golebiowski (4:23.97), Foley’s Charlie Lawrence (4:24.75) and Royalton’s Daniel Borash (4:26.36) all have times that could wind up in the top five. That race is Saturday.
* Golebiowski has the second-best seed in Friday’s Class A boys 3,200 (9:39.18). Lawrence (9:44.60) has the fourth seed.
* Foley’s Sam Udermann has the second-best distance in the Class A boys discus (156-1). He’s three feet behind the leader.
* St. Cloud Tech’s Paul Kaczor has the third-best seed in the Class 2A boys shot put (56-7¾).