Track and field: Cotter's Ping an instant state phenom

ST. PAUL — The state title collecting is already in full swing for Winona Cotter's Grace Ping.

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Byron’s Taylor Kreitinger (2) and Winona Cotter’s Grace Ping (1) compete in the 1,600 during Saturday's meet. Ping finished first, Kreitinger third in the event.

ST. PAUL — The state title collecting is already in full swing for Winona Cotter's Grace Ping.

And to think she's just a seventh-grader.

Ping picked up her second state championship in as many days Saturday at the state Class A girls track and field meet at Hamline University.

This one came in the 1,600. Ping was timed in 5:02.84 to easily win the event. On Friday, the diminutive one finished in 10:31.27 to romp to the 3,200 title.

That already gives her three state titles this school year. Last fall, she won the state Class A cross country crown.


The most surprising thing about it all? It's that Ping doesn't seem surprised at all. In fact, she walked away just the slightest bit disappointed. Her times didn't quite land where she'd hoped.

"My goal was to win both races," said Ping, who will compete in a national meet this week in North Carolina. "But I was hoping for 4:49 in the 1,600 (state record is 4:48.41)."

Did the heat hold her back, with temperature hovering in the 90s?

"No, I felt good," Ping said. "We all had to deal with the same weather."

• It was a stellar showing by Section 1A in the 1,600. While Ping won the race, Byron freshman Taylor Kreitinger was third with a 5:07.85 time. She actually just missed second, with Watertown-Mayer's finishing in 5:07.83.

Terhaar vaults to 2nd place

Stewartville's Mariah Terhaar was hoping for a splashy ending to her high school track and field career.

She got one, all right.


The Tigers senior tied her all-time best mark in the pole vault — 11 feet — and finished second in the event Saturday.

The winning vault was a state Class A record 12 feet by Staples-Motley's Millie Klefsaas. Byron's Hannah Coleman was ninth, clearing 10 feet.

"I was just trying to get to my personal best vault again," Terhaar said. "But I didn't imagine myself getting second at state, that's for sure."

Terhaar actually headed to he awards stand thinking she'd got third. The news she received while standing there was thrilling.

"When they told me I'd gotten second, I was blown away," she said. "It was just an amazing way to finish off my senior year."

Quam keeps improving

Mara Quam was a state long jump champion a year ago. This time at state, there were no titles. But that didn't mean there wasn't progress for the Kenyon-Wanamingo junior.

Quam finished second in the long jump Friday, but did it with a better distance than last year (17-10 1/2, compared to 17-7). She also managed a 35-10 triple jump Saturday which was good for ninth place (she went 35-5 3/4 for fifth last year), and was fourth for the second straight year in the 100 hurdles. Again, she improved her time (15.43 Saturday, 15.64 last year). She was even better in Friday's preliminaries (15.22).


"My goal next year will be to make it back to state in all three events again," she said. "I want to be even better in the triple jump; maybe getting better at my technique."

• Section 1A was well represented in the 100 hurdles. Byron's Emma Weatherly was fifth with a 15.63 time. She was seventh last year. Weatherly was also fifth in the triple jump (36-7).

"It's an honor to finish in the top five," Weatherly said.

• Section 1A was represented well in the hurdles, period. Dover-Eyota's Marissa Richter was third in the 300 hurdles, in 46.0.

Richter, just a freshman, was even better in the preliminaries with her 45.93 time.

Relay success

The La Crescent 400 relay team has been drawing strength and inspiration from its male counterparts in the event.

And vice versa. Sure enough, both finished second Saturday at state. The Lancers girls did it in 50.06. That team was comprised of Clair Shepardson, Bryannae Bierman, Maria Lusk and Cali Mauss.


"This was a gift earned, not giving," said La Crescent's Bierman. "This feels great, because with the exact same girls and running the same legs, we finished fifth last year in the 4x200 relay. We are so happy to be able to do this."

• The Lake City team of Morgan Dommann, Abby Ziebell, Liv Kozlowski and Madi Green also shined, finishing third in the 1,600 relay. They were timed in 4:04.33.

Caledonia/Spring Grove (Kaitlin Conniff, Josephine Wagner, Amber Conniff and Mariah Schroeder) also grabbed a third, theirs in the 400 relay (50.12).

• Also, Lanesboro/Fillmore Central relay teams managed a pair of sixth place. Those came in the 1,600 relay (4:06.62) and the 3,200 relay (9:46.58).

Stewartville’s Mariah Terhaar took second place in the pole vault at the Class A state track and field meet Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul.

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