ST. PAUL — Toryn Richards didn’t settle for merely breaking her own personal record.
She obliterated it.
The Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Toryn Richards had never soared higher than 10 feet, 2 inches in competition. Ten feet flat was her best of 2019.
But she knew she had it in her to reach new heights. Richards cleared 11 feet to tie for fourth place Saturday at the Class A state track and field meet.
“Coming into this I was jumping 11 feet in practice so I was like ‘I’ve got to make 11 feet,’” Richards, who placed seventh at state in 2018, said. “These girls definitely pushed me. This year is definitely the most competitive. Everyone was with me through 10-6 so I just had to keep fighting.”
Last year’s event, which was indoors due to rain, saw only five clear 10-6. Eight got to that point on a hot, sunny Saturday at Hamline University.
Richards cleared the bar on her first of three possible tries at 9 feet, 9-6, 10, 10-6 and 10-9. It wasn’t until 11 feet when she needed a second try.
“Basically I just had to believe in myself,” Richards said. “Every time I got out there it was ‘You got this.’ I say that to myself all the time. My approach got better each time and I was feeling a lot more confident in myself as I went through.”
The pole vault competition began at 3:30 p.m. It bled into Richards’ running for WEM’s 400-meter relay team at 5:40.
She had one attempt at clearing 11-3 before going off to run.
A similar scenario played out last year, though Richards said she didn’t struggle keeping focus on one event at a time.
“This year, I feel like it was more spaced out,” Richards said.
It was Richards’ second trip to the podium as she also tied for third place in high jump Friday.
Perham senior Ashley Hokanson defended her state title at 12-7. She broke the previous Class A record of 12-3 set in 2017 by Millie Klefsaas of Staples-Motley.
In Class AA, Cambridge-Isanti’s Char Morke won at 12-4. Eight finished above 11.
Class A girls pole vault results — 1. Ashley Hokanson (Perham) 12-7, 2. Alayna Schloeder (Rockford) 11-6, 3. Kaitlyn Schuur (Southwest Minnesota Christian/Edgerton) 11, T4. Toryn Richards (Waterville-Elysian-Morristown) 11, Molly Schultz (Rockford) 11, 6. Paige Winterfeldt (Concordia Academy) 10-9, 7. Linnea Askegaard (Minnehaha Academy) 10-6, 8. Brooklyn Jones (Crosby-Ironton) 10-6, 9. Kiersten Nelson (Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton) 10, 10. Kassidy Broadwater (Lanesboro/Fillmore Central) 10, 11. Julia Cordes (Rochester Lourdes) 10, 12. Jessie Westman (Jordan) 9-6, 13. Autumn Montgomery (Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian-Danube/Buffalo Lake-Hector) 9-6, 14. Signe Harris (Park Christian) 9, 15. Skyla Thompson (Moose Lake/Willow River 9, NH. Shalie Lipp (Perham)
Medals for the boys 400 relay
Four WEM seniors closed their career with some hardware Saturday.
The 400-meter relay team of Levi Wolter, Tyler Hermel, Tanner Ranslow and Isaac Pratt clocked 44.27 seconds to place sixth in state.
Running in front of a packed house at Hamline was a thrill.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Hermel said. “The hype was unreal.”
Added Wolter: “My heart was pumping in my chest.”
It wasn’t quite the 44.03 mark that earned them fourth in Friday’s preliminaries, but they’ll take the result after coming together late in the season.
They had just three practices together before the section meet to qualify for state.
“We did a lot better than what we thought we were going to do,” Pratt said. “Compared to the rest, I feel like we had a solid race.”
Jordan won at 42.79 to break the old Class A record of 42.88.
Wolter joined the relay beginning in sections and had the task of getting WEM off to a fast start.
“I was like ‘Don’t let the team down,’” Wolter said. “’I have one job and I’m going to fulfill it.’”
He handed off to his fellow lineman in football, Hermel.
“I’m just thinking ‘I’ve got to get going and he’s a big body,’” Hermel said with a smile. “He can’t just stop.’”
Then it came Ranslow’s turn to hit the back stretch.
“Ty’s a horse and I’ve got to get on mine or he’s going to run me down,” Ranslow said.
Pratt got the baton across the finish line.
“There’s a lot of fast kids out there,” Pratt said. “The fastest kid in the state’s out there, there’s a lot of pressure on it, but we all have our parts and we know we try our hardest. That’s all you can ask for.”
Class A boys 400-meter relay results — 1. Jordan 42.79, 2. Providence Academy 43.41, 3. Pipestone Area 43.74, 4. Stewartville 44.04, 5. Ellsworth 44.24, 6. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 44.27, 7. Chatfield 44.43, 8. Mora 44.78, 9. Pierz 45.01
Girls 400 relay suffers disqualification
What would have been a third-place time for WEM’s girls 400 relay of senior Alexis Morsching, Richards, freshman Riley Sammon and senior MaeLea Harmon was wiped away.
The Bucs were ruled to have left their zone and a time of 50.14 seconds was taken off the board.
“I think overall we had an amazing season,” Morsching said. “We switched out runners throughout the season. It didn’t end exactly how we wanted, but we had amazing memories that can’t be taken from us.”
WEM was second in Friday’s prelims at 50.08.
“(Disqualifications) happen to everyone. It’s sad,” Richards said. “We’re happy we got this far and were really excited to be there.”
Harmon’s high from winning the 100-meter dash earlier in the day was diminished by the sour way her prep career closed.
“It’s a bittersweet day,” Harmon said. “I’m sad our 4-by-1 team got DQ’d and I’m sad this is the end of my career.”
Morsching said she was proud to race with her cousin, Sammon, who made her state debut.
“We represented really well,” Morsching said. “I’m happy for the guys, happy for MaeLea, happy for Toryn. Not the greatest ending we expected, but it’s fine.”
Class A girls 400-meter relay results — 1. Rochester Lourdes 49.62, 2. Byron 49.81, 3. Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland/Southland 50.14, 4. Melrose Area 50.93, 5. East Grand Forks 51.29, 6. Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball 51.31, 7. Park Rapids Area 51.42, 8. Annandale 51.58, DQ. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown