Track and field: Johnson wins discus, three others earn top-four finishesST. PAUL -- Red Wing seniors Luke Johnson and Bryant Blahnik made the most of their final day as high school athletes. Johnson captured his first individual state title by winning the Class AA discus Saturday and Blahnik took third in the 1,600-meter run at Hamline University’s Klas Field.
By: Ryan Nilsson, The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL -- Red Wing seniors Luke Johnson and Bryant Blahnik made the most of their final day as high school athletes. Johnson captured his first individual state title by winning the Class AA discus Saturday and Blahnik took third in the 1,600-meter run at Hamline University’s Klas Field. He’d never placed higher than 10th before at a state track or cross-country meet.
Johnson won the discus with a toss of 175 feet, 2 inches. It wasn’t one of Johnson’s better days -- he threw the discus further at state last year and took second -- but he edged Andover junior Thomas Anderson by 21 inches for the title.
“I was pretty consistent the whole year,” Johnson said. “Even on my bad days, I guess you could say, for discus it was still pretty good. Even though I didn’t perform as well as I probably wanted to today, my not so good was good enough.”
Added Wingers assistant coach Mike Ehlers: “In the discus he was able to just do the same thing over and over and over. Consistency true and through. You knew what you were gonna get from him pretty much every time he threw. He came out and did the exact same thing today and got a state championship out of it.”
Blahnik led for the first two laps of the mile before being passed by Minnetonka’s Christian Skaret and Totino-Grace’s Steven Dado. Blahnik’s finishing kicks have drawn raves from Wingers coach Adam Nelson this season, but with 200 to go Blahnik said he was spent and just fended off the runners behind him.
“I wish I could have maybe found another gear at the end there, but I’m happy with how things ended up today,” Blahnik said.
Blahnik crossed the finish line in 4 minutes, 18.98 seconds. Skaret won in 4:16.72.
“I think my mental approach is better (this year),” Blahnik said. “Before I was just kind of happy to be here -- settle for a decent place. I felt like I had the ability to win this race today. I gave it all I had.”
Blahnik and Johnson were their team’s only entrants at state, but Red Wing finished ninth in the team standings with 30 points. Johnson also took second in the shot put on Friday.
Cannon Falls’ Emi Trost finished the Class A girls 1,600 in a school-record time of 5:02.78 to earn her second runner-up finish in as many days. She also came in second in the 3,200 and set a school record in that as well.
Trost’s seed time in the mile was 5:19.15 and she’d never before run the race faster than 5:11.00, but she said competing against talented runners like champion Kayla Huhnerkoch of Redwood Valley (5:01.75) brought out her best.
“You don’t have time to think about being tired,” said Trost, a freshman.
Cannon Falls finished eighth in the Class A boys 4x400 relay (3:40.00).
In the Class A girls pole vault, Lake City sophomore Kristine Novak cleared 10-6 and finished fourth. She cleared 10-9 at the section meet, but she was unsuccessful in her three attempts at that height Saturday.
“I knew I could get over it, but at the same time I knew I had to try to give it my all,” Novak said of clearing 10-9. “Maybe I wanted it too much and I was trying too much -- just overdoing some parts.”
To read more about the state meet, pick up Wednesday’s newspaper.