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TRF hurdler wins state title

ST. PAUL -- After breaking personal and school records in the 300 hurdles in each of her last two meets, Meleah Biermaier's time came up a little short of those marks Saturday.

But the Thief River Falls eighth-grader didn't mind.

"Coming in first at state -- you can't really ask for more than that," Biermaier said.

Biermaier doesn't enter high school until next fall. But she'll do so with a state title in hand, as she won the 300 hurdles at the Minnesota Class AA state track meet. Biermaier had a winning time of 43.48 seconds. Cassandra Ortberg of Zimmerman was second at 44.29 seconds.

Biermaier finished the season undefeated in the 300 hurdles. Even with the success she's had -- including a Section 8AA-record time of 44 seconds, then running a 43.33 in Friday's prelims -- Biermaier was nervous Saturday.

"You're just hoping you can pull it off," Biermaier said. "But the pressure kind of helped. My adrenaline was up. It makes you run faster."

Prowlers coach Lindsey Johnson said Biermaier was strong from start to finish in the race.

"She came out strong," Johnson said. "When she turned the corner, you could see her coming out of it in front, and she led the rest of the way. It wasn't neck-and-neck. It wasn't a close finish.

"I think she was pretty relieved when it was over. She was pretty nervous. She sort of realized she was running against some big schools."

Both Johnson and Biermaier said it wasn't until late in the season that they thought about a state title run.

"We knew Meleah would be good," Johnson said. "She's tall, with a good stride and speed, and she works hard. But, at the start of the year, I never looked at her as being a state champion this season.

"But when I saw some of the times she was running before state, I thought maybe she could do it. She continued to surprise us."

Four area athletes

place in A meet

Four area athletes were placers Saturday in the Class A state meet in St. Paul.

n Warroad's Deidre Hahn led the way, as she was runner-up in the 200. It was the second straight day the junior had a second-place finish, as she was runner-up in the long jump Friday.

Hahn was seeded fifth in the 200 coming into the meet and was fifth in Friday's prelims. But she moved up, running a 26.02-second race. Sommer Haugrud of Pelican Rapids won at 25.73.

"Deidre was in lane 2, so she could see seven other runners," Warroad coach Alan Rybolt said. "Coming around the corner, she saw where she was at, kicked it down and finished strong.

"I wouldn't say we expected a second from her in the 200. But we knew it was doable for her. The better the competition, the better she runs."

n Crookston had a pair of placers, as senior Hayley Solheim in the shot put (39-½) and eighth-grader Marietta Geist in the 1,600 (5:23.79) each finished eighth.

Solheim is now a three-time state placer, as she was a top-nine finisher in the discus as a junior and senior. Geist made a big jump, as she entered state seeded 13th out of the 16 qualifiers in the 1,600.

"To be a three-time state placer, that's a huge accomplishment for Hayley," Pirates coach Amy Boll said. "And Marietta was a pleasant surprise. She was seeded quite a bit lower, but she was running with people who really pushed her. I think that helped her."

n Roseau senior Jesse Eastman was a placer in three events. On Saturday, he tied for seventh in the high jump (6-2) and was ninth in the 110 hurdles (16.49). On Friday, he was eighth in the triple jump and 10th in the 300 hurdles prelims, one spot shy of qualifying for finals.

"Seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th -- is that like a straight in poker?"' Rams coach Jill Helgeson said.

"To medal in three open events at state, that's very unusual for our program. And Jesse pulled something in his leg Friday during the triple jump. His leg was very tight and he was limping around (Saturday). He did very well.''