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East Grand Forks Senior High thriving in the distance races

The long distances were a struggle for a long time for the East Grand Forks Senior High boys track team.

For six straight seasons, from 2010 through 2015, the Green Wave didn't score a single point at the Section 8A meet in either the 1,600 or the 3,200.

"I used to hate getting to the 3,200 at the end of meets because we never scored a point there in big meets. We never scored a lot of points in those events in any meet,'' long-time Senior High boys track coach Kirk Misialek said.

"Now the 1,600 and the 3,200, even the 800, are a big reason for the success we've had this year.''

Senior High figures to contend for its first section team title since 2014 when the 8A meet is held today in Glyndon. The Wave have a strong group of throwers, led by Luke Vonesh. They won all four relays at the subsection meet. Felix Zuniga has the top qualifying time in the 400.

But in the 3,200, Wave freshman Tyson Mahar has the fastest seeded time, 20 seconds ahead of teammate and No. 2 seed Sakariye Ismail. In the 1,600, sophomore Cole Nowacki has the fastest seeded time, with Ismail seeded fourth.

It was Nowacki who broke the distance scoring drought in the section meet. Two seasons ago, he placed third in the 1,600 and seventh in the 3,200; last season, he was third in the 1,600 and sixth in the 3,200.

"It's surprised us,'' Nowacki said of the distance corps' success compared to a few years ago. "We had only two distance runners when I started running on the varsity. Now we have six guys at practice every day who are running good times.

"Running is what you put into it. We've put in a lot of time and miles running. We mostly do it year round.''

Misialek said it has been more than 10 years since Senior High had a group of distance runners as the current runners.

Misialek doesn't know exactly what turned around the distance running.

"We do have kids who like to run those distances,'' Misialek said. "And they saw some success in cross country and it's carried over to track.''

Nowacki also is a factor. "Cole leads by example,'' Misialek said. "Nobody out-works him on our team. He runs in the morning, then he runs again after school. I think kids notice that effort he puts in. And I think some of the kids have developed a mentality that if Cole can do it, they can, too.''

One thing is for sure—Misialek no longer dreads it when the team score is close late in a meet and the 3,200 is about to be run.

"Now, if we're a little behind in the scoring, we can make a move with the 3,200. It's fun,'' Misialek said.

"The 1,600 and the 3,200, along with the relays and throws, have really carried us this year.''

Section 8A track at a glance

• When: Today, with field events starting at 10:30 a.m. and running events at 11 a.m.

• Where: Glyndon, Minn.

• At stake: The top two finishers in each event, as well as any entrants who reach state qualifying standards, advance to next week's state meet.

• Defending team champions: Pelican Rapids girls, Dilworth-G-F boys.

• Returning girls open champions: Zoe Russillo, Red Lake County, 100; Paige Oswald, Frazee, 200; Tatianna Wiley, Pelican Rapids, 400; Chloe Paulson, Pelican Rapids, 1,600; Paige Ziegler, Frazee, 100 hurdles; Abi McGlynn, West Marshall, triple jump; Karley Motschenbacher, Park Christian, long jump; Jaiden McCollum, Park Rapids, shot put.

• Returning boys open champions: Mason Wang, Crookston, 100 and 200; Dan Wilson, Dilworth-G-F, 800; Adnew Stueven, Northome-Kelliher-Blackduck, 1,600; Steele Senske, Park Christian, high jump; Hunter Roseborough, Roseau, shot put; Jacob Lindemann, Roseau, discus.