Superlative district performances by the Lourdes tracksters resulted in eight state qualifiers during action at the D-3 meet at Auburn on Wednesday.
Colton Davis qualified for state in the shot and the discus while Brandon Fredrichs and Colter Fulton made it in the 110 hurdles and the 300 hurdles for the Knight boys’ team.
Qualifiers for individual events on the girls’ side included Laura Box in three events, the 300 hurdles, 400 meters and long jump. Ainsley Esser made state in the high jump and Anna Heng qualified in the 800.
Heng and Box joined Libby Fulton and Elaina Madison in the 4x400 meter relay team, which earlier this season set the conference meet record and the school record for that event. The relay team’s top time had it sitting third overall in the state for Class D entering district action.
Coach Michael Parde left the track on Wednesday feeling good about the way the Knight athletes had performed.
“It was a great day for Lourdes track this year,” said Coach Parde.
The coach added to his comments by saying that he really hoped young athletes at the Lourdes school were watching and taking notes of the team’s season. Parde said the Knight coaches went into the year with the idea that they were going to help all of their athletes get better, not just for track, but for all athletic ventures.
And that was definitely seen as a success.
Turning to the district performances, field events set up the day. Colton Davis threw a 53’ put in a warm up throw, which drew the attention of top thrower Bryant Jorn of Falls City Sacred Heart. Jorn went on to win the event with a put of 53’7.5”. While Davis didn’t have a 53’ put in an official competition throw, he did post a personal best and second place toss of 50’7”, which was a personal best.
In the discus, Davis threw 142’11”, which was an automatic qualifying effort. That was good for third place.
Coach Parde said he felt Davis has been ready for a 50’-plus toss all year in the shot.
“I was wondering when he was going to go out there close to 50’,” said Parde.
In the discus, Parde said Davis has gotten more consistent by learning to trust his technique.
Joining Davis in a personal best effort was Esser, whose high jump of 5’ represented a significant improvement on the biggest day of the track season. It was also good for second place.
“All year, she has had this potential,” said Parde. “Today, she got her mechanics to fall into place.”
With the mechanics of jumps worked out, Parde said he expects Esser to jump higher. Being just a freshman, Esser’s future is definitely shining bright.
Box rounded out the field events by leaping for second place at 16’3.25 inches, just 3.5” behind Pawnee City superstar Mariah Willey.
The transition to track saw Box running 1:01.9 in the 400 for second and 48.8 for second in the 300 hurdles.
She then went on to anchor the 4x400 relay in its impressive race.
Included in the day for Box was also a pretty rough fall at the end of the 400 meters. She was attempting to slow down after the race when she stepped on someone else’s hip number. The sheet of paper provided a slick surface and Box lost her footing. The road rash was visible on her body in several places, but that didn’t stop her from competing.
Coach Parde said this was no surprise to him. He watched the fall and knew it was a tough one for his athlete. At the same time, he knew that Box has been resilient all year and said he knew she would come back strong and fight through the adversity.
“She’s a tough girl. Not everybody can take a fall like that and recover that quickly,” said Parde.
Winning an individual gold medal for the Knights was Heng, who ran 2:34 for first in the 800 meters. The kind of speed Heng displayed in that 800 meter is a big reason why the 4x400 has been so successful this year.
Heng, a junior, with Box and Fulton, both seniors, have provided great talent and leadership this season while Madison was noted by the coach as being a “go-getter” as a freshman.
Fulton’s efforts were also especially noteworthy in that the Knight athlete came out for track and did what she could despite having injury issues that have been tough throughout her career at Lourdes.
She has the ability to do a lot of other events and score medals for the Knights, but her body simply won’t let her do that.
Instead of sulking, Fulton is at the track at each meet patiently waiting for the last event of the day so that she can help that 4x400 team get points and medals.
Coach Parde said that’s where Fulton’s experience comes into the equation. Parde said she knows how to manage her day and has the right mentality and focus to be ready for her event.
“It shows drive and determination,” Parde said of Fulton’s efforts.
As a team, the 4x400 has been a very exciting event for Lourdes this year.
The team’s time of 4:19 was 11-plus seconds better than second place Johnson-Brock and their seeding coming into the meet was hugely impressive being ranked No. 3 in Class D. But Coach Parde said those numbers don’t represent the top performance for his group. That’s still out there in his estimations.
“They are still reaching their potential, I believe,” said Parde.
Rounding out the state qualifying efforts for the Knights in the hurdle races were Colter Fulton in the 300 with a second place mark of 43.2 and Fredrichs with a second place mark of 16.3.
Coach Parde said Fulton’s run in the 300 hurdles was a reflection of the competitive level he displays all of the time during any athletic event. Fulton was dealing with injury at district, but powered through.
“He’s a competitor. He wants it so badly,” said Coach Parde.
For Fredrichs, the state trip was sweet because it almost didn’t happen. The Knight runner didn’t come out for the team at the start of the season, but Coach Parde said they worked on getting him to come out by telling him that he was capable of making a difference with top level performances. Parde said he would like to think that was the ultimate reason that Fredrichs had for deciding to come out after all and the coach noted that Fredrichs can still get a much better time for the 110s next year as well as add accomplishments in the 300 hurdles going forward.