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Carlton County track stars shine at conference meet

The Esko boys and the Two Harbors girls are this year's Polar League Conference champions after last Wednesday's conference meet in McGregor.

Esko won the boys event with a total of 168 points. Moose Lake/Willow River finished second with 120 points, followed by Two Harbors, Cromwell-Wright, Barnum, Carlton/Wrenshall, Cook County, South Ridge, McGregor and Silver Bay.

"Our boys had a solid day," said Esko boys coach Gary Beaudot. "It's been an odd season for training, but we had a gritty performance by all of our athletes!"

Two Harbors took the girls title with 171.5 points, followed by Esko with 143 points. Rounding out the scoring were Moose Lake/Willow River, McGregor, Carlton/Wrenshall, Silver Bay, South Ridge, Cromwell-Wright, Barnum and Cook County.

"Our girls had a really strong showing at the conference meet," said Esko girls coach Matthew Peterson. "Our girls continue to get better, and at this stage of the year that's what we hope for."

Local top boys finishers

The boys winner of the 110-meter hurdles was Esko's Carter Zezulka, who narrowly defeated Barnum's Spencer Strom. Barnum hurdlers Keenan Head and Hayden Charboneau also finished third and fourth, respectively.

Head and Charboneau finished second and third in the 300-meter hurdles. Tanner Collman of Cromwell-Wright rounded out the top four by finishing fourth.

"Keenan Head had the lead till the last hurdle; he has been really improving in this race and we really look forward to seeing what he can do," said Barnum coach Rich Newman. "Spencer Strom and Hayden Charboneau have done well in competing in the high hurdles. Spencer has also really improved and received all-conference honors in the hurdles and the high jump."

Spencer Hipp of Esko was second in the 200-meter dash and was just nipped at the line by Tate Nelson of Two Harbors. Liam Schoenberg of Cromwell-Wright was fourth.

Cromwell-Wright went first and second in the 400-meter run with Romain Jacques taking top honors and Noah Foster taking second. Wes Ward of Carlton/Wrenshall was third and Jaxsyn Schmidt of Moose Lake/Willow River was fourth.

"Noah and Roma are both incredible runners, and having them go head to head was fun to watch," said Cromwell-Wright coach Dave Foster.

Dylan Nyberg of Cromwell-Wright was second in the 800-meter run, and Eli Youngs of ML/WR was fourth.

Foster of Cromwell-Wright took first place in the 1600-meter run and set a school and conference record with his win.

"One of Noah's biggest goals has been to beat our school record in the 1600," said Cards coach Dave Foster. "Breaking the school record and conference record on the same day was very rewarding."

Carlton/Wrenshall's Jack Riley took second in the 1600 while Elliott Wasche of ML/WR was fourth.

Riley bounced back to win the 3200-meter run followed by South Ridge runners Alex Burckhardt and Sawyer FierkeLepp in second and third. Phoenix Anderson of Cromwell-Wright was fourth in the 3200.

"Jack (Riley) ran a great and strategic race in the 3200 for the win and all-conference honors," said Carlton/Wrenshall coach Kevin Olesen. "He put pace into the race early, and on the last couple laps ran away from the competition. He also ran second to record-setter Noah Foster (Cromwell) in the 1600 to make all-conference in that race as well. He was also on our third-place 4x400 relay team."

Local teams competed hard in the relays. The Rebels 4x100 relay team won a tight race to barely nip Esko. In the 4x200, it was Barnum winning by a second-and-a-half over Moose Lake/Willow River. Cromwell-Wright had a dominating performance in the 4x400 relay, winning by 12 seconds over Esko. The 4x800 relay was captured by Esko, which won by nearly four seconds over runner-up Two Harbors.

Eskomo Wyatt Hudspith was a double winner: capturing the boys discus and shot put. Hudspith won the discus with a throw of 154-03, more than 13 feet farther than runner-up Mark Hall of Barnum. In the shot put, Hudspith won with a toss of 47-07, nearly 7 feet further than the Rebels' JP Mesojedic.

The Esko boys swept the high jump, with Braedyn Male taking first, Spencer Strom second and Carter Zezulka third.

Esko took second and third in the long jump with Ryan Sturm and Dalton Spindler, and Carlton/Wrenshall's Wesley Ward finished fourth.

Jackson Thompson of ML/WR won the pole vault with Esko athletes Alec Halvorson and Spencer Hipp taking second and third.

"Jackson won the pole vault to become a three-time all-conference champion," said ML/WR coach Noah Jurek. There was no season in 2020, so he could have possibly won it four times."

Esko went 1-2 in the triple jump with Jacion Owens winning and Spindler finishing second.

Girls top performers

On the girls side, Kaitlyn McConnell of Esko finished second in the 100-meter dash. The 200-meter dash was won by Moose Lake/Willow River's Tyler Orvedahl in a time of 27.59.

Esko's Gwendolyn Lilly won the 100-meter hurdles with teammate Megan Chopskie finishing third. The Eskomos also went 2-3 in the 300-meter hurdles, with Chopskie finishing second and Brecklyn Shovein taking third.

"Kaitlyn McConnell is taking on both the long jump and triple jump this year after competing in the state meet in the long jump last year," said Esko girls coach Matt Peterson. "Gwen Lilly is holding her claim on the 100-meter hurdles again, after being a state competitor the last two years in that event."

Siiena Anderson of Cromwell-Wright finished third in the 400-meter dash and Ceilia Prenier of Esko was third in the 800-meter run. ML/WR's Amelia Olson was also fourth in the 800.

In the 1600, Emaleigh Olesiak of Cromwell-Wright was third, with the Rebels' Olson taking fourth.

Brooklyn Wasche and Danica Wyman of ML/WR took second and third in the 3200-meter run.

In the relays, Esko won the 4x100 with ML/WR taking second; it was ML/WR finishing second in the 4x200. South Ridge was second in the 4x800 and Carlton/Wrenshall was third.

"The highlight for me was our girls 4x200-meter relay team setting a new school record," said Rebels coach Noah Jurek. "The previous record for the 4x200 relay was set in 1988 by Faith Manty, Tara Carlson, Lynn Forse and Gigi DesLauriers with a time of 1:53.80. The new record is 1:50.84 set by Jocelyn Mundell, Tyler Orvedahl, Morgan Wigg and India Johnson."

Carlton/Wrenshall picked up a win in the discus by Julia Peterson, with Annaka Bogenholm of Barnum taking second and Maya Johnson of Esko finishing fourth.

"Julia has had a great season," said Raptors coach Kevin Olesen. "She is such an accomplished thrower already as a sophomore. "Not to diminish her efforts in the shot put, but discus is where she really shines. She now enters the section meets leading section 7A at 112 feet. She has the 12th-best throw in the state in Class A this year."

Barnum's Bogenholm won shot put with Johnson of Esko taking second and the Raptors' Peterson nabbing third.

Kaitaia Klemetsen of South Ridge took first in the high jump; Morgan Wigg of ML/WR was third and Esko's Kyra Johnson took fourth.

Katelyn McConnell of Esko was second in the long jump with Morgan Wigg of ML/WR taking third.

In the pole vault, Esko took the top three spots with Aleah Lindgren taking first, Alora Dammann finishing second and Lauren Radovich taking third.

McConnell of Esko finished her busy day with another second-place finish in the triple jump; Macie Lind of Cromwell-Wright took second and Kyra Johnson of Esko finished third.

All the coaches were impressed with the way the meet was handled in McGregor and all sang the praises of Bill Hudspith who acted as the race coordinator. In all, seven conference records were set last Wednesday.