N.D. Class A girls state track meet: Riders' new 4x100 relay team wins

BISMARCK -- All that talk about working together, practicing handoffs, etc. -- Grand Forks Red River's girls 4x100 relay team showed it may be overrated.

BISMARCK -- All that talk about working together, practicing handoffs, etc. -- Grand Forks Red River's girls 4x100 relay team showed it may be overrated.

It wasn't until last Monday that the Roughriders decided who would run the four legs on its short relay team at state. The quartet of Jasmine Robinson, Hadley Steffen, Andrea Hollingworth and Carolyn Shabb hadn't run as a unit all season. Yet, in their first time together Friday, they set a school record and had the fastest time in the prelims at the North Dakota Class A girls high school state track meet.

They topped it off by winning a state title Saturday. They ran a time of 50.51 seconds (off slightly from their 49.64 time in the prelims) to win the state championship. Runner-up Valley City ran a 50.65.

"I expected us to get a spot on the podium," said Shabb, the lone senior of the quartet and who was limping after the race because of a pulled hamstring. "But I wasn't necessarily expecting first. It was a great surprise.

"We just wanted to get into the finals. We were kind of shocked to get the fastest prelim time. After that, we knew we could do this. It was a great outcome for us."


Red River coach Tracey Heisler said the unit didn't run together prior to state for a few reasons, including some injury problems and the athletes doing different things in meets trying to get qualified for state. Even Monday's decision to put the group together was dependent on Shabb's ability to run with the injured leg.

"When we looked ahead to the state meet, we decided this would be our best combination," Heisler said. "We felt they had a good shot at being in the top four. As far as winning -- you never know going into state what combinations other teams would put together for relays. We didn't know.

"Then, when they set the school record in the prelims, we thought, wow, we might have something here."

Steffen also won an individual championship, taking the long jump with a winning leap of 18 feet, 8 inches. The sophomore hit the winning jump in the prelims, then went to run in the state-championship relay and returned for the long jump finals.

"The feeling you get when you get a long jump, it's the best feeling," said Steffen, who set a personal record with her winning jump.

"I've been working so hard at the long jump. I placed third in it last year at state. I got a really good jump early in the year. After that one, I knew I could improve, so I kept working at it."

Red River wound up with a top-five finish in the team race.

Bismarck Century won the title with 102.5 points. Minot was second at 89, followed by Bismarck (74), Red River (69.5) and Fargo South (63).


Red River's other top event was in the javelin, where Emily Asche and Ashley Zeitvogel placed second and third, respectively. Asche was runner-up after missing the 2010 season with a foot injury. "That was a bummer," the senior said. "I didn't know for sure how well I could come back on it. I'm pretty happy with this."

Simpson wins shot

Grand Forks Central had a state champion in Kayla Simpson, a shot putter whose reluctant change in style paid off.

Simpson won with a 42-3 throw, seven inches shy of her personal record. The senior finished fourth a year ago, but switched from a glide move to a spin move this season at the behest of throwing coach Brent Lloyd.

"I'd never tried the spin before, but we had a new coach (Lloyd) and he felt I'd be better with it," Simpson said. "I'd done the glide for six years. The spin is harder to do.

"I told coach many times that I didn't like (the spin), that I didn't want to do it. But I'm glad I stuck with it."

Simpson had never hit 38 feet prior to this season; as a senior, she never threw less than 38 feet.

"Kayla had the physical tools to do the spin," Lloyd said. "We felt there was a lot more potential for distance if she went to the spin. She kept working at it, and she ended up loving it."


Central's other top placer was Jessica Lindsay, who was runner-up in the 800. Lindsay was named the state's Class A senior co-athlete of the year, sharing the award with Dickinson's Jess Herauf.

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