ST. PAUL — Owatonna’s Keenan Young is an athlete, a teammate, and most of all, a competitor.
Moments after exiting the stage and slowly walking across the infield under the blistering early-afternoon sun at Hamline University, Young should have been beaming with smiles.
But he wasn’t.
Though humbled by the opportunity to race against the state’s top competition over the two-day Class AA state track and field competition, Young was far from happy with the way things turned out.
Yes, he beat seven of the best 300-meter hurdlers in the entire state and clocked his fastest time of the year at 38.51 seconds, but second place just didn’t feel right.
First, he believes eventual champion, Josh Sampson, inadvertently stepped out of his lane near the curve and should have been disqualified and, second, he was understandably upset after allowing Sampson to catch him over the final hurdle.
Still, there was a lot of positive to extract from the entire experience for the Owatonna junior. He took major strides in his development over the previous 365 days — going from a fifth-place at sections to second place at state — and he will only continue blossom as he enters his extensive offseason routine that will once again include participating in the indoor track circuit in the Twin Cities.
“Probably,” Young responded when asked if Friday and Saturday served as his unofficial coming-out party. “I am happy that I was able to show what I can do against great competition and to show that I can be consistent. I can learn a lot from this and start conditioning myself for that last hurdle.”
Young got off to a decent start and, as always, made his move around the turn, blasting past a number of runners and striding into first place with about 100 meters remaining. He maintained his lead until the final jump when the top of his foot clipped the hurdle and allowed Sampson to break past for the win.
Sampson clocked a 38.11 and won his second state championship of the day after he posting a blue ribbon time of 14.23 seconds earlier in the day in the 110-meter race.
Zach Henke of Brainerd finished in a close third with a 38.55 and was followed directly by Josh Thomsen (Mounds View, 35.57), Conor Mcmanamon (White Bear Lake, 38.85), Drake Daniels (Wayzata, 38.91), George Jackson (Hopkins, 39.45), David Myles (Becker, 40.26) and Isaiah Clausen (Minneapolis Southwest, 41.61).
Johnston wins wheelchair discus title, sets another record
Medford’s sensational senior, Luke Johnston, capped his career with another state championship on another record throw.
Competing on Saturday evening in the Class A wheelchair discus a day after winning the shot put, Johnston flung a state-winning throw of 50 feet, 4 inches on his final attempt. He also had tosses of 46-02, 45-00, 43-09, 42-09 and 39-09.
The previous state-meet record, which was set by Johnston last season, was 48-11.
Nicolett’s Aidan Gravelle finished second with a top throw of 43-08.
Johnston has won every state championship in the wheelchair discus and shot put since his sophomore year, giving him six total state championships.
Team state champion breakdowns
Girls: Rosemount. Lauren Peterson took home two individual state championships by herself, winning the 1600 and 3200-meter races. The Irish also clocked the fastest time in the 4x100-meter relay with a 3:51.89. They accumulated 71.5 points and barely clipped Alexandria (70 points) for the title.
Boys: Hopkins. Trailing Rosemount by 10 points in second place heading into the final event of the competition, the Royals earned 12 team-points by winning the 4x400-meter relay to give them the state championship.
Girls: The Blake School. The Bears won 99 events and racked up 57 points, comfortably ahead of second place Winona Cotter (44). Robbie Grace captured three individual titles in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and long jump.
Boys: Jordan. The Hubmen dominated the small-school competition with 87 team-points, beating second place Providence Academy by 29 points. They won half the relays and registered five other top five finishes.