Covering the distance: New Southland record holder meets the previous record holder
Published 5:18 pm Friday, May 13, 2016
ADAMS — When Southland junior Peter Torkelson broke the 42-year old 3200-meter run record at Southland High School recently, he didn’t just want his name in the record book, he wanted to meet the man who had held the mark for so long.
Torkelson got that chance at Southland High School Friday, when he met Tom Shane, who set the original 3200-meter run record for Southland in 1974.
Shane’s record of 10:16.8 stood for more than four decades and Torkelson finally broke it on Tuesday at the ‘true team’ meet with a time of 9:59.61.
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“It’s really nice to meet him and he seems like a great guy,” Torkelson said of Shane. “I’ve been looking at that record for awhile and I’ve been chasing it. It’s awesome that he had it for 42 years.”
While Torkelson runs for the GMLOKS track and field team, which holds its home meets at a paved track in Grand Meadow, Shane ran in Adams in a track that had gravel, tar and grass on it.
Shane picked up a lot of his running abilities from running lunches out to his dad on the farm and eventually he took on distance running.
Shane initially broke the Southland record as a freshman and he re-set in many times that year. But after breaking his leg in a snow mobile accident, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to come back to distance running.
“My coach and my teammates really helped me,” Shane, who now lives near Zumbrota, said. “I actually wanted to quit distance running and go shorter distances. My coach kept pushing me to keep working and keep running and he was right.”
Shane came back to break his own record again his senior year, and although he was fast enough to run in the state meet, he missed out on it when his dad fell ill and he had to take over the family farm. Shane, who often beat the Southland 4 x 800-meter relay team in practices, misses running competitively, but he looks back fondly on his unorthodox method in gaining a mental edge.
“I used to start out of the [sprinters] blocks to psych everybody out and I’d sprint the first quarter mile,” Shane said. “It was kind of fun, and it worked. They would look at you like ‘what is that?’ That’s just how I did it. I really enjoyed it and I really miss it.”
When it comes to how they stay focused on running, Torkelson and Shane have a similar mindset as they both enjoy singing while running. Torkelson’s go-to song is ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers and Shane liked to run to ‘Joy to the World’ by Three Dog Night.
However, running and singing got Torkelson into a little trouble last year at the Section 1A meet and he forgot what lap he was in.
“I was singing and running in the one-mile finals and I thought we had two laps left,” Torkelson said. “It turned out it was the final lap.”
Torkelson made it to his first Class A state cross country meet in the fall and now he’s having a breakout track and field season. He was six seconds from breaking the Southland 1600-meter run record and he was within a half second of the Southland 300-meter hurdle record on Tuesday. He has also pole vaulted for GMLOK, but now he’s going to focus on his running events, where he has put up some of the fastest times in Class A this year.
“[Meets are] kind of hectic,” Torkelson said. “You do the mile, and then you have a little time to feel the pain and recover and then it’s on to the next race.”
Torkelson said he made some adjustments to his running form this year and he also learned to be patient during his distance runs.
“Last year I was running heavy and I went down on every footstep. This year I’m not doing that,” he said. “The biggest thing this year is pacing myself. I changed my mind set from trying to start off first, to being the one that’s behind and being the voice in [the other runners’] head that I’m coming.”
Shane said that he’d like to come out and watch Torkelson run this spring and that should give Torkelson a little more motivation as he aims to get to his first ever state track and field meet.
GMLOK will host the SEC meet 4 p.m. Tuesday.