Track: Leaving Lake City a champion
ST. PAUL — Carl Kozlowski had state cross-country flashbacks as he approached the final 100 meters of the 800-meter championship. And he was not about to relive that memory.
"I got third (at cross-country) and I saw that happening again and I was like, 'I can't go to school if I do this again. Those guys will never let that go,'" Kozlowski said. "I had to push."
In the final stretch, the Lake City senior pulled past Mora's John Schwinghamer and the rest of the field to win the Class 1A 800 title with a time of 1 minute, 56.19 seconds at Saturday's state track and field championship meet at Hamline University.
"When you've run a long time, you know when you're in the race that it's not over until you cross that darn line," Kozlowski said. "I knew I was in the race, but everyone is capable of doing what I did, though. It wasn't over until I crossed the line.
Earlier in the day, Kozlowski also won a medal with a sixth-place finish in the 4x800 relay with teammates Mitch Mund, Nate Jasso and Denilzo Baltazar at 8:24.62.
Coming into the 800 as the top seed, Kozlowski took his time in getting to the front of the pack.
"I like to feel the races out. The biggest thing is staying in contact. If you lose contact, it's real hard to stay in a race," Kozlowski said.
All week in preparation for the state meet, Kozlowski was prepping for that final stretch.
"You got to be on your toes at that point," Kozlowski said. "At practice, we've done a lot of 150s, 100s and 40s. That's the point where you drop your hands and go."
Kozlowski beat Keiser Freetly of Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd (1:57.78) and Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Jonathan Tostenson (1:58.42) to win his first state championship.
Williams gets a second chance
As Kozlowski pulled away from the pack at the climax of the 800, calamity ensued behind him.
Trying to keep up with Kozlowski, Schwinghamer tripped himself up and fell to the ground. One other runner got tripped up in Schwinghamer's tumble: Pine Island's Jack Williams.
"In my head, I'm thinking maybe I'll come in third. Then I saw (Schwinghamer) go down and thought, 'OK, I'll get second now,'" Williams said. "And the next thing I know, I was going down with him.
"I got up and across the line. I was mad for a minute but that didn't seem helpful and I knew it wasn't really anyone's fault so I had to let it go at this point."
Ultimately, the judges disqualified Schwinghamer and gave Williams the chance to run a second time by himself. Williams didn't know if he had it in him physically to run the 800 again. But that's not the way Williams wants to think, so he gave it another honest try.
"I didn't think I'd be able to put out a great effort. Then I started thinking that I didn't know how that kind of thinking is going to lead to down the line," Williams said.
Taking to the track one more time, Williams finished seventh at 2:05.23. And perhaps more important than the medal, Williams gained the respect of the field as athlete after athlete congratulated the Panthers senior for giving it another go.
"I'm happy that I got to do it," Williams said. "I'm not sure what I'm going to take out of it or what I gained from it. But I know I probably gained something from putting in the effort and running again."
Steel sharpens steel in triple jump
After a season of competing against one another, four Section 1A athletes — Kenyon-Wanamingo's Mara Quam, Cannon Falls' Kaly Banks, Pine Island's Eliza Warneke and Byron's Emma Weatherly — went at it one more time at state. This time, in the Class 1A girls' triple jump.
"We definitely all pushed each other this year," Quam said. "It was nice having someone close to me in all the jumps every meet. It made me push farther."
Banks added, "It definitely prepared me and it made me drive to work harder. I'm happy for the competition."
Out of the four section athletes, Quam had the best showing in the triple jump with a third-place leap of 37-2.
"My steps were on really well. I strided out all three of my steps," Quam said. "I just pushed really hard and gave it everything I had."
Banks hit a personal best of 37-1, which was good for fourth.
"I was relaxed today," Banks said. "During sections, my heart was pounding and I was all over the place. It was more pressure at sections than at state. ... I knew I could do it but I didn't know I had it in me one more time."
Warneke placed 13th after a top jump of 35-2 while Weatherly was 12th at 35-4.25.
Winning the triple jump title was Jordan's Jenna Kes at 40-2.75, followed by Watertown-Mayer's Ailsa Gilbert at 37-4.
Along with winning the girls' long jump on Friday, Quam added one more medal to her collection with a fifth-place time in the 100 hurdles in 14.92. La Crescent's Clair Shepardson was the state champion in 14.55, followed by Kes in 14.64.
"I'm happy with how I placed this year, especially compared to last year," said Quam, who will leave in mid-July for Minnesota State-Mankato to begin her college volleyball career.
Heitman third in long jump, high jump
Competing in both the long jump and high jump, it made for a somewhat hectic state meet for Lake City's Ethan Heitman.
"They pulled me a lot," Heitman said. "Like I was going to get ready to long jump, then a guy would come over and take me to the high jump."
Instead of fretting over things, he used the small breaks to his advantage.
"It's kind of a cool-down when you're walking over and you got to adjust your mindset," Heitman said. "You have to focus on different aspects of your jump."
The Lake City sophomore ended up taking home a pair of third-place medals. Heitman made a jump of 6-4 in the high jump, trailing two-time state champion Tyl Woelber of Pipestone Area (6-7) and Eric VanErp of Ottertail Central (6-5).
Then in the long jump, Heitman reached a length of 22-1.25, trailing only Corleone Powell-Smith of Minneapolis North (22-2.75) and VanErp (22-2).
After a pair of tight finishes, Heitman's resolve to get back to state is already strong.
"I saw it as great competition," Heitman said. "I hope next year to place first in both high jump and long jump."
Also in the high jump, Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Alex Guse reached the medal stand with a fifth-place leap of 6-3.