ST. PAUL - Seth Wiechman felt terrible after the boy's 400-meter preliminaries at the state track meet on Friday.
The junior from Minnesota Valley Lutheran had just run his fastest 400 ever with a time of 50.08, which was good for sixth overall to propel him to Saturday's finals at Hamline University in St. Paul.
"I feel terrible, but that means I'm doing it right," Wiechman said. "This is the worst I've felt all year, so I suppose that's a good sign."
Wiechman said the competitiveness of the state meet was on par with his expectations, but did not come without a few surprises.
"It fools you because out on the corner there, I felt like I was in the lead because I couldn't see anyone, but then at the end they all come up and meet you," Wiechman said. "That's what I expected."
Wiechman, who is MVL's lone state participant this year, was initially unsure of his chances heading into this year's state meet. Now, however, his uncertainty has almost completely evaporated.
"This is the end of the season, it's all just leaving it all on the track tomorrow," Wiechman said.
Jonathan Webb (Minnehaha Academy), Bryce Johnson (Breck School) and Austin Carlson (Park Rapids Area) each finished the boy's 400 with times in the sub-49s. Wiechman's 50.08 beat his previous personal best of 50.51, which he set at the Section 2A meet last week.
Akin to Wiechman, Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop's Daniel Timm was the lone state qualifier for his school. The junior finished ninth overall in the boy's shot put with a toss of 49-08.75 on the fifth of his six throws.
"It was OK, it could have been better," Timm said. "I think I could have performed a little better, but ninth place as a junior isn't bad; I'll be back here next year and do better."
Timm said his form was one of the key components to his place-winning finish at state, which was something he honed all season to get to this point.
As far as any extra pressure for being at state, Timm said there really wasn't any.
"My first throw I was nervous, but after that I just settled in; it was normal and everything," Timm said.
Springfield/Cedar Mountain/Comfrey's Alex Larson competed in both the 100 and 400 as his team's lone qualifier. His performances in the prelims, however, were not good enough to advance him to Saturday's finals.
"I looked up at my time, it wasn't very good but I felt really good," Larson said after the 100. "It's just really fast competition here. There are some athletes that could go straight to college right now, but I felt I ran my best."
Larson, a senior who qualified as part of the co-op's 4x200 team last year, finished 21st out of 23 in the 100 and 12th out of 17 in the 400 to conclude his athletic career.
In the 100, Kenny Fischer of Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet finished 13th and T.J. Fulton of Wabasso finished 14th.
Sleepy Eye Unified moves on
The short-distance relay team for Sleepy Eye Unified will have two chances at medaling, having nabbed the ninth-and-final qualifying spot in both the girl's 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays.
Despite the underwhelming showing at Friday's prelims, senior Nikki Carr was not discouraged.
"It's kind of good because then tomorrow we know we can do better," Carr said. "We can come from behind and we know ourselves and know we can run better than that."
Carr and fellow senior Jamie Marti drew parallels to the 2012 state meet and Friday's prelims.
"This is what we did 10th-grade year - we just barely qualified and didn't do very good and then in the finals we did really good," Marti said. "So hopefully we can pull that off again tomorrow."
Carr and Marti were sophomores on the short-distance relay team that placed third at state in the 4x200 in 2012.
The girls scraped by the skin of their teeth in the 4x100, having qualified with a time of 50.99 - just ahead of Lake City's 10th-place finish with a time of 51.00.
Nicollet's Julia Giefer barely missed advancing in the 800-meter run, having placed 10th with a time of 2:21.05 as part of the Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet co-op.
"Seeing people ahead of me and seeing that I can't catch them is a little bit discouraging," Giefer said. "I do [get used to running with a pack] if I train for it but I didn't train for that."
Giefer was in third place after the first lap, but fell to sixth in her heat and 10th overall due to a discouraging second lap.
However, she did not let that ruin her one-and-only competitive trip to state.
"It was good, it was humbling," Giefer said. "It was awesome to finally be down here instead of just watching up there [in the stands]."
Class A state meet
100: 13. Kenny Fischer (LCWM/N) 11.44; 14. T.J. Fulton (Wabasso) 11.48; 21. Alex Larson (Spr./CM/C) 11.63
400: 6. Seth Wiechman (MVL) 50.08*; 12. Alex Larson (Spr./CM/C) 50.85
100H: 8. Megan Eckberg (SibEast) 15.65*
800: 10. Julia Giefer (LCWM/N) 2:21.05
4x100: 9. Sleepy Eye Unified (Nikki Carr, Sam Walter, Becca Schmitz, Jamie Marti) 50.99*
4x200: 9. Sleepy Eye Unified (Nikki Carr, Sam Walter, Becca Schmitz, Jamie Marti) 1:47.33*
* Qualifier for Saturday's finals
Shot put: 9. Dan Timm (GFW) 49-08.75