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Packers 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relay teams take third at state; 4 x 200 team takes sixth

ST. PAUL — They didn’t bring home any titles, but the Packers are feeling pretty good about their performance at the boys Class ‘A’ state track and field meet Saturday at Hamline University.

The 4 x 800-meter relay team reset its school record and took third, the 4 x 400-meter relay team took third, and the 4 x 200-meter relay team took sixth.

“It was a heck of a season for the boys and we wanted to win, but it was a great way to end it,” Austin head coach Tony Einertson said.

The 4 x 800 team of Jacob Bentley, Christian Folken, Jacob Larson, and Tim Erickson finished three seconds faster than their previous best time and they were within one second of first place Wayzata and within .25 of a second of St. Thomas.

“I don’t think we even knew we could go that fast and we did real well today,” Erickson said. “Third place was a good way to cap it.”

Austin, which finished with a time of 7:54.51 led the race through the first two exchanges and Christian Folken built up a marginal lead on the second leg.

“I came into this giving it all I could give and I’m happy with it. We did the best we could,” Folken said. “It’s different from last year (when Austin took sixth in the 4 x 800), because last year we just wanted to see what we could do. This year we had more pressure on us and we did well.”

Jacob Larson held his own for the first 400-meters of his leg before he fell back to fourth. Tim Erickson fell to fifth early in his leg before coming back strong down the stretch.

Larson said it felt great to have the squad in the midst of the top teams throughout the race and he’s glad with how the season ended.

“Christian had an amazing run to give us a big lead,” Larson said. “I was a little nervous and we were all nervous, which I think helped. Just running at a stage this big, helps you run that much faster. We really performed today and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

By the time the 4 x 400 team of Will Darling, Erickson, Bentley and Henry Darling ran their race, there was a light rain, which had an effect on all of the team’s times.

Austin led early on, but it was in fourth place on the last exchange, where it lost some momentum when Henry Darling had to slow down for Blaine’s Zach Vraa after getting the baton.

“They had a little bit of a lead, but it would’ve been a lot less if I wouldn’t have been cut off by Blaine,” Henry Darling said. “It frustrated me because I would’ve made a lot more ground. With something like that, I’m that much farther behind and its hard to make up.”

As it was, Darling finished strong to get the Packers into third place with a time of 3:21.67 that was only about a second and a half slower than their school-record time on Friday. First place Eden Prairie finished in 3:20.30 and second place Rosemount finished in 3:20.72.

“I think we could’ve done better, but I kind of had a rough leg and that Rosemount guy (Chandler Dye) took off on me,” Erickson, who will run track and St. Olaf next year, said. “There was enough rest in between (the 4 x 800 and 4 x 400), but my legs just didn’t turn over very fast. We did really good and third’s nothing to complain about.”

Austin’s 4 x 200 team of Will Darling, Bentley, Mike Hirsch, and Henry Darling took sixth with a time of 1:29.88 and they were three-hundredths of a second behind fifth place Stillwater.

White Bear Lake won the 4 x 200 with a time of 1:27.99.

Einertson credited Bentley, who ran in all three relay teams on Saturday and he said the seven seniors who ran at state will be tough to lose.

“It’s a good group,” he said. “I’ve watched all of them kind of grow up. You spend so much time with them and they almost become family. We watch kids go every year, but this will be an especially hard group to let go.”

In the Class ‘A’ meet, Hayfield sophomore Hunter Anderson took 12th as he missed out on the finals.

Anderson threw a scratch and a distance of 119 feet, and a distance of 136-5 in the preliminaries.