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Hulne: State tournaments bring out plenty of competition

Over the past three days, I’ve seen plenty of area athletes give it their all at the highest level of competition, and it sure was fun to watch.

On Thursday, The Hayfield softball team took a huge step from being at team that was happy to be at the state tournament to a team that was ready to contend for a state title.

After going 0-4 in their last two state tournament appearances the Vikings showed that they meant business as they overcame a six-run deficit to win their first game 13-11 against Kimball and Hayfield came back from 9-1 to tie the game, before falling 10-9 to eventual state runner up Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian.

In both games, Hayfield could’ve gotten frustrated or overwhelmed and packed things in. Instead, they chose to keep battling and attacking and they nearly played their way into the state title game. With much of its roster set to return next season, Hayfield will certainly be looking to make it four straight state tournament appearances next season.

The state track and field meet also brought plenty of solid performances from area athletes.

Austin’s Amber Hansen and Sydney Marsh both came up with extremely clutch performances to get on the state podium.

On a ‘finals or bust’ throw in the discus, Hansen landed a career best throw just inside to the foul line to end up finishing fourth and on Saturday she was able to produce a sixth place finish in the shot put.

For a quick moment, it looked like everything was against Marsh in the pole vault. The steady winds had picked up to a stiff breeze and she had to wait for couple of minutes for the wind to die down before her third and final attempt at 11 feet.

Just after she had cleared the height, Marsh began to celebrate, only to see the bar fall to the ground. Marsh’s head sank and the crowd gasped, but after a short discussion, the judgers ruled that the attempt was good and Marsh celebrated and went on to finish fifth in the competition.

In the Class A meet, Peter Torkelson of GMLOKS didn’t get back on the state podium, but it wasn’t due to lack of effort. Torkelson was boxed in a crowd early, and as he tried to escape the traffic jam in an exceptionally fast field, he just couldn’t escape.

While he finished 11th, Torkelson has been a fun athlete to cover over the past few years. He originally started running at the Darren Dash to get a break from being grounded and he went on to become one of the better distance runners in the area. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop as he competes for Hawkeye Community College next season.

The GMLOKS girls 4 x 200 meter of Katelyn Luthe, Emily Hovden, Riley Queensland and Lauren Buchholtz showed what having a tot of depth on a team can do as they finished third at state. GMLOKS has a lot of quality girls sprinters on its roster and it certainly helped the relay teams speed up this spring.

First time state qualifiers Pat Hagan of Austin, Drew Lewison of GMLOKS, Katrina Thoe of Hayfield and Sam Wurst of Blooming Prairie all picked up memorable experiences that they’ll probably never forget.

Over the next couple of days, the Blooming Prairie golf team will be busy competing at a high level as the BP boys compete in their second straight Minnesota Class A state golf meet and Taylor Christianson will compete in her fourth straight state meet.

Christianson will be chasing after that elusive individual state title, as will BP senior Tommy Braaten, as he is competing in his third state meet.