Both Packer relays advance to finals

SAINT PAUL — Henry Darling and his Packer teammates saved their best for last at Friday's Class AA state meet at Hamline University.

Austin's top relay squad turned in a blistering time in the final event of the day — the 4x400 — to secure the top seed in today's finals. Its time of three minutes, 20.17 seconds was more than three seconds faster than its previous best this spring.

Perhaps best of all, Darling got to enjoy the home stretch in front of packed bleachers.

"My coach told me not to really sprint it out if we were in a good position, so I jogged the final 100," Darling said.

Austin built a substantial lead after strong splits from Will Darling and Tim Erickson, but White Bear Lake closed the gap during Jacob Bentley's turn. Henry Darling received the baton for the last leg at about the same time as White Bear Lake's Eric Gebeke.


Henry Darling turned on the jets around the first turn to regain some separation before coasting home on the final straightaway.

Even after easing up, the Packers' posted a time more than a second and half faster than the 2009 title team from Buffalo. Five teams finished under 3:21 on Friday, which figures to make for a competitive finals.

"Hopefully we win," Henry Darling said. "Knock on wood."

Austin swapped out Erickson for Mike Hirsch in the 4x200 and secured a spot in that final, as well. The Packers finished sixth in 1:29.42.

The 4x400 team is schedule to run today at 12:32 a.m. and the 4x200 squad will run at 10:10 a.m.

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