ST. PAUL - The Sleepy Eye Unified short-distance relay team is on a mission.
Two years after placing third in the 4x200-meter relay, Sleepy Eye Unified will vie for success in both that and the 4x100 this weekend at the Minnesota state track and field meet at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Seniors Nikki Carr and Jamie Marti were sophomores on the third-place team from two years ago, which will serve newcomers Becca Schmitz and Samantha Walter well on the big stage.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye Unified’s Jamie Marti will compete in the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relay this week at the Class A State Track and Field meet.
"We know what to expect and we know the routine of how everything happens," Carr said. "It's totally different there than it is at [sections]; it's way more intense and we'll be ready for that this time."
The team - in order: Carr, Walter, Schmitz and Marti - head to state with sixth-best qualifying time out of 16 teams in the 4x100 and the sixth-best out of 18 in the 4x200.
With that said, one would think the pressure may seem greater on the sport's grandiose stage in Minnesota. However, that is not always the case.
"State is just more fun," Marti said. "It's not as much pressure as there was to get there, and that's what we wanted to do. Now we'll just go run our hardest."
Marti is returning from an ACL injury that sidelined her for her junior year of athletics.
"Because it was my senior year, it was hard to come back because I was only coming back for one more year," said Marti, who returned for the basketball season at Sleepy Eye St. Mary's this past winter before taking to the track this spring.
Marti and Co. will vie to advance past Friday's prelims into Saturday's finals in both events as Sleepy Eye Unified's lone qualifiers.
"We're really excited because Jamie's coming back from an injury and me and Sam haven't ever been to state yet, so we're so excited," Schmitz said. "I think we have a good chance."
Wiechmann, Timm headline area boy's qualifiers
No one was more excited to be finished with last Saturday's 400-meter dash at the Section 2A meet than Minnesota Valley Lutheran's Seth Wiechmann.
The junior, who placed second in the event with a personal best time of 50.51, said he had been nervously consumed by the upcoming section meet the whole week leading up to it. But now that he has earned a state berth - the only one from both the MVL boy's and girl's teams - he doesn't sound as confident about his prospects.
"I'll see a lot of good competition," Wiechmann said. "To be honest, I don't expect to be in the thick of things. I'll probably be on the outside looking in."
Despite sounding like absolute pessimism, Wiechmann clarified the reason for his low expectations.
"I went to state just to watch last year; I watched the 400 and it was fun, but kind of scary at the same time to see all of them run," Wiechmann said. "They were even a few seconds faster than probably what I just ran."
Unknown to him at the time of the interview, Wiechmann's qualifying time is the sixth-fastest among the 17 qualifiers in the boy's 400. So maybe things will look up for him come Friday's prelims.
One area qualifier who is looking for a better performance than his mark at the section meet is Dan Timm of Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop.
After placing first with a throw that eclipsed the 50 mark at subsections, Timm tossed a 48-11.50 at the section meet to finish second to St. Clair's Ryan Kruse.
However, it says something that Timm struggled and was still able to qualify for his first-ever trip to state.
"I'm expecting to have fun because I'm only a junior," Timm said. "I want to be there so I can be back there next year and just get used to the place and everything."
Other area qualifiers include Wabasso's T.J. Fulton, who ran an 11.44 to qualify in the Section 3A boy's 100-meter dash, as well as Kenny Fischer, who took second in the 100 with an 11.31 at the Section 2A meet.
The state track meet will take place on Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul. Class AA events will be held in the morning and Class A will be in the afternoon.