Packer relay teams advance to state finals; 4 x 400 team breaks school record again

Published 8:25 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

ST. PAUL — Austin will have three relay teams in the Class ‘AA’ state track and field finals Saturday at Hamline University.

Austin’s 4 x 800-meter relay team advanced automatically as there were only nine teams in the field and the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relay teams finished in the top nine in Friday’s preliminaries to advance.

The 4 x 400-meter team of Will Darling, Tim Erickson, Jacob Bentley, and Henry Darling took first in their preliminary and they finished 2.5 seconds faster than their previous school record time.

“We wanted to come out hard,” Bentley said. “I know Henry and I didn’t push all out on the last 100 to save some for tomorrow, but we wanted to do good. It felt really good and I’m not completely wiped out or anything right now.”

The Packers final time was 3:20.17 and a team from Stillwater tied them, but was disqualified. Teams from Robbinsdale Armstrong, White Bear Lake and Maple Grove were all within a second of Austin’s time.

“We had the top prelim time last year and ended up taking fourth. We don’t want that to happen again,” Austin head coach Tony Einertson said. “It was a perfect day to run, but it was just prelims and we’ve got to do it again.”

The 4 x 200-meter team of Will Darling, Jacob Bentley, Mike Hirsch, and Henry Darling finished sixth in the prelims with a time of 1:29.42.

A team from White Bear Lake broke the state record with a time of 1:27.63.

“They might have a tough time, but they also run the 4 x 400,” Will Darling said. “If they’re going all out the first day, that doesn’t leave much for tomorrow. We qualified and I don’t think any of us are all that tired, so that’s all that matters.”

Hirsch was the only Austin qualifier making his first trip to state, and he took a laid back approach.

“I feel pretty relaxed because I’ve been to state in wrestling before. I just treat the competition as any other runner,” he said.

Saturday’s finals will begin at 9 a.m. in Hamline University.