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Friendly competition helps Hatton-Northwood's Bilden and Pinke churn out rare 40-foot shot put throws

The Thunder teammates rank Nos. 1 and 2 in Class B in the shot put entering this weekend's North Dakota state track and field meet.

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Hatton-Northwood teammates Trista Bilden (left) and Elizabeth Pinke have both thrown the shot put more than 40 feet this year.
Photo by Katie Pinke

NORTHWOOD, N.D. โ€” Hatton-Northwood teammates Trista Bilden and Elizabeth Pinke are three-sport athletes.

They golf together. They play basketball together.

This track and field season, they've shot up the state rankings together.

Bilden and Pinke rank first and second, respectively, in shot put entering this weekend's North Dakota state track and field meet in Bismarck.

Bilden, a junior, has a throw of 41 feet, 9 inches, while Pinke, a freshman, has a best throw of 40-4. They're the only two Class B girls to throw 40 feet this year. Only two Class A girls have thrown 40 feet.

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This year was a season of massive growth for the Thunder duo. Bilden finished 17th at state last season with a throw of 32-5. Pinke didn't qualify for the state tournament after maxing out with a 33-foot throw at regionals as an eighth-grader.

"They definitely had a chip on their shoulder after state and regions last year," said Hatton-Northwood throwing coach Molly Griep-Popowski. "They do a lot of training at Sanford Power in Grand Forks. They've made lifting a priority. For Elizabeth to have a 7-foot (personal record from last year to this year) is honestly crazy.

"They've gone back and forth all season, even in discus. They're pretty humble about it. They know this is a good thing for everyone."

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Hatton-Northwood's Elizabeth Pinke sets to throw the shot put at a meet May 4, 2023, in Mayville, N.D.
Photo by Katie Pinke

Pinke ranks second in the state in discus, while Bilden ranks sixth. At the state meet, the shot put is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday and the discus is 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

"I would say a lot of time in the weight room really helps and extra hours throwing after practice," Bilden said. "(Having Pinke as a teammate) helps me. It pushes both of us and makes us stronger. It helps to have good competition."

The Hatton-Northwood pair have an experienced coach. Griep-Popowski, who competed at UND in the mid 2010s, still holds Top 10 marks in UND history in the discus (second), shot put (sixth) and weight throw (seventh).

Pinke's mom, Katie Lukens Pinke, was one of the area's top throwers in high school at Grand Forks Central in the late 1990s and originally competed in track and field in the SEC at the University of Georgia.

"My mom is a huge supporter," Elizabeth said. "She'll help me if I ask, but she's always a great supporter."

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The 40-foot marks for Bilden and Pinke โ€” which came on the same day (May 4 in Mayville) โ€” are rare for Class B girls. The last time the North Dakota Class B girls state meet saw a throw of at least 40 feet was 2015 when Carrington's Bailey Retzlaff (42-3) and Watford City's Nessa Matthews (41-6) did it.

"They're friends and great competitors," Griep-Popowski said. "They're always cheering someone on. It's good to have a teammate as dedicated as you are."

Bilden and Pinke have jumped the top three in the shot put from the 2022 state meet. All three athletes are seniors in 2023.

"I just want to come in calm and confident and keep working my way up to the podium," said Pinke, the sister of former UND football captain Hunter Pinke. "I didn't qualify last year, so I'm super excited I get to do it this year with Trista."

With the help of Pinke and Bilden, Hatton-Northwood could rack up points at the state meet. Distance runner Jenna Soine, the region's senior athlete of the year, enters state with the sixth-best time in the mile and fourth-best time in the two-mile. Brynley Coleman, the defending state champion in the pole vault, also enters state in a tie for the best vault of the season.

Hatton-Northwood has never won state as a co-op. Northwood won state in 1983 in a three-way tie.

Area Class B in state Top 8 rankings

100 
Class B boys
4. Max Roller, Thompson, :11.18

200
Class B boys
3. Henry Nelson, HCV, :22.84; 6. Roller, Thompson, :22.89

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400
Class B boys
2. Henry Nelson, HCV, :50.63

800
Class B boys
8. Christian Brist, HCV, 2:03.54

1,600
Class B girls
6. Jenna Soine, Hatton-Northwood, 5:28.53; 8. Paris Hoverson, Hatton-Northwood, 5:31.95

3,200
Class B girls
4. Jenna Soine, Hatton-Northwood, 11:58.99

100/110 hurdles
Class B boys
7. Karter Peterson, Thompson, :16.27; 8. Kason Buchholz, HCV,:16.29

300 hurdles
Class B boys
8. Kason Buchholz, HCV, :41.54
Class B girls
5. Elizabeth Fedje, DVE, :46.89

4x100 relay
Class B boys
2. Hillsboro-Central Valley :44.22
Class B girls
5. May-Port-C-G :51.49

4x200 relay
Class B boys
2. Hillsboro-Central Valley 1:32.57

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4x400 relay
Class B boys
2. Hillsboro-Central Valley 3:30.80
Class B girls
8. May-Port-C-G 4:15.23

4x800 relay
Class B boys
7. Grafton 8:37.26

Shot put
Class B boys
7. Easton Baesler, HCV, 50-10; 8. Levi Kautzman, Griggs-Midkota, 49-3
Class B girls
1. Trista Bilden, Hatton-Northwood, 41-9; 2. Elizabeth Pinke, Hatton-Northwood, 40-4; 4. Asia Becherl, Griggs-Midkota, 38-7; 5. Paige Bishop, HCV, 37-8

Discus
Class B boys
6. Easton Baesler, HCV, 145-4
Class B girls
2. Elizabeth Pinke, Hatton-Northwood, 122-2; 5. Sydney Suda, Grafton, 116-4; 6. Trista Bilden, Hatton-Northwood, 113-6; 8. Asia Becherl, Griggs-Midkota, 11-10

Javelin
Class B boys
4. Peter Dryburgh, HCV, 169-0
Class B girls
1. Meredith Romfo, Langdon, 132-0; 5. Clover Gillespie, PRFL, 118-5; 8. Ainsley McLain, Grafton, 116-9

High jump
Class B boys
5. Micah Longthorne, HCV, 6-3; 6. (tie) Hunter Hagler, North Star, 6-2

Pole vault
Class B boys
2. (tie) Noah Mehus, MPCG, 13-0; 6. Oliver Marquardt, MPCG, 12-0
Class B girls
1. (tie) Brynley Coleman, Hatton-Northwood, 10-6

Long jump
Class B boys
2. Micah Longthorne, HCV, 22-3; 4. Hunter Hagler, North Star, 22-1.5

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Triple jump
Class B girls
5. Rylee Satrom, MPCG, 35-9

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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