Column: Finding joy in the state tournmament

Published 8:09 pm Monday, June 14, 2010

Making it to the state tournament is always a positive for any high school athlete or team, but sometimes the immediate impact of a loss at state can take a way that joy for a little while.

The Blooming Prairie softball team had its hearts broken twice when it lost two one-run games in the first round of the Class ‘A’ state softball team last week and the Austin boys 4 x 400 relay team was a little bummed out when it didn’t get the first place finish it was hoping for at the Class ‘AA’ state track and field meet.

While both negative reactions were quite appropriate at the time, its important for these athletes to eventually forget the pain and cherish the fact that they competed on such a stage.

BP held its own and showed it belonged in its first ever state tournament appearance and the Austin runners drew recognition from quite a few people that had no Austin affiliation.

While covering the state track meet, I heard other reporters and fans alike comment on the speed of Austin’s runners.

While the Packers had to settle for a pair of third place finishes and a sixth place finish, it’s important for them to remember that they’re taking on the best teams in the state — which includes teams from the Twin Cities.

Unlike football and basketball, when Austin competes in the state track meet, it is one of the smaller schools in the field.

While athletes like Jacob Bentley run in two relays in prelims and three relays in the finals, other teams have substitutes in the prelims to keep their main runners fresh.

The Packers 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relay teams set school records that will last a long time and they ran their best at state and the seven seniors that wrapped up their careers on Saturday were a big part of an Austin track team that was among the best in the Big Nine the past few years.

BP played two close games against the best and they should return a good squad that has a chance to compete for a state title next year.

These should be good memories, not sad ones.