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Hanson leads Panthers

COLBY, Wis. -- Chelsea Hanson will be very busy at next weekend's WIAA State Track and Field Meet.

The Ellsworth senior successfully defended her sectional title in the 400-meter dash and also helped the Panthers' 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams qualify. The 4x800 squad took first place with a time of 9 minutes, 56.19 seconds.

Getting under 10 minutes was remarkable considering the race was run under gale-like conditions. Gusts of 40 miles per hour and sideways rain, which turned into sleet as the temperature dropped 20 degrees in just over an hour, threatened to ruin the day.

"That shows how determined we are," Hanson said. "It was our goal to make state, and we kept pushing ourselves to get there even though it was pretty rough out there."

Hanson ran the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay and edged out Tomahawk's Sara Subury to put Ellsworth in fourth place with a time of 4:12.32.

Ellsworth was within 10 points of Somerset in the team standings heading into the final race of the meet. Had the Panthers won, the score would have been tied 54-54 with only the postponed pole vault competition remaining.

Instead, the Panthers have 49 points and need at least a fourth-place finish from Megan Rinke to win the sectional title.

Regardless of how the team score comes out, Ellsworth coach Craig Olson was pleased with the performance.

"We had a good day and Somerset had a good day and we were right where we wanted to be at the end, so we can't complain," Olson said. "One of our main goals was to get our two relay teams to state, and we did so."

Also qualifying for state individually for Ellsworth was Morgan Place; she finished third in both the 1,600 and 3,200.

Other place winners for the Panthers include Amanda Samuel (5th, 3,200); Krissa Bushinski (6th, 3,200); Macy Olson (6th, 800); Rachel Langer (8th, high jump); and Carlie Melstrom (8th, 400).

• Ellsworth's lone entrant in the boys meet was Nick Niedfeldt. He placed fifth in the 400.