Cobras compete with state's best in final meet
In the entire landscape of Minnesota high school sports, there may be few sections that have had the success that Section 1 has seen this year.
The talent in the Southeastern part of the state has been undeniable and as Leif Bungum, Courtney West and Nell Graham prepared for the Minnesota State High School Track & Field Meet last week, they were just three more athletes that looked to add to the section’s impressive resume.
While Bungum, West and Graham were not able to achieve their ultimate goals of becoming a state champions, they put forth great performances in their respective events and represented Triton well in its final meet of the season.
It started on Thursday afternoon when Graham made her second straight appearance in the 800 meter run. Last year’s experience helped the sophomore learn how to perform on such a big stage and helped put her eyes on earning a spot in the finals of the event. That tunnel vision helped Graham, who rebounded after missing a month with an injury earlier in the season to win her heat with a time of 2:19.79 to punch her ticket to the finals.
The following day, she bested her own school record, which was set at the Section 1A Meet in Elgin on June 1, with a time of 2:18.27 which was good for third place in Class A.
Meanwhile, West was making her first appearance as one of the top distance runners in the state as she prepared to run in the 1600 meter and 3200 meter races. As she took to the blocks for the 3200 meter run on Thursday, the goal was for the junior to do what she does best. “Our strategy for Courtney in this race was for her to just run her race,” Triton track and field coach Bruce Huber revealed. “We didn’t want her to get caught up with the fast pace at the beginning of the event.
She planned to run her splits established before the meet and worked on in practice the past month. West executed her gameplan perfectly as she resisted the urge to chase leader Tierney Wolfrgram of Woodbury’s Math and Science Academy and stayed toward the back of the 16-runner field.
As the race went on, West made her move running a pair of consistent laps before turning it on in the final lap to pass Brynnan Covington of Perham and finish in second place with a new school-record time of 11:02.99 making her the seventh Cobra to finish as a runner up at the state track meet.
West wrapped up her spectacular season on Saturday night with the 1600 meter run and executed the same plan to stay toward the back and turn it on when it mattered the most. With 200 meters remaining, she she was in a tight pack for the lead along with Wolfgram, Byron’s Tayler Kreitinger and Covington and as they came down the stretch, West tangled her feet with Covington and both competitors went down.
West did a nice job to recover however and finish with an impressive time of 5:10.35 to take third place in the event.
Bungum was making his second appearance at the state meet with a return after a one-year hiatus in the 100 meter dash.
This was perhaps the biggest challenge of any of the three athletes at the state meet as Class A was completely loaded with elite sprinters coming into the event. Bungum’s time of 11.56 seconds was impressive but wasn’t good enough to qualify for the finals. However, the senior’s season isn’t summed up there as he made a solid recovery after a broken ankle suffered in the first game of football season last fall hampered him at the beginning of the spring.
Months of rehab and hard work went into just getting to the state meet and that in its own right made the season a big success as he heads to North Dakota next fall.
Overall, it was a solid season for Triton as it sent three athletes to the state meet for the first time since 2009. It’s that kind of work ethic that existed for every athlete on the roster and helped this group stick out in Huber’s mind.
“I’d like to thank all our track athletes for an exciting and rewarding track season,” Huber said. “Our hope is that our team had fun and got better each and every week. The memories that they created will stay with them for a lifetime.”