Muskie track teams shine in Dryden
Even with their workload purposely limited, the Muskie girls’ and boys’ track-and-field teams made quite an impression in Dryden last Thursday.
Both crews finished second overall in their respective divisions at the Dryden High School Track and Field Invitational meet.
The same 1-2 finish applied in the boys’ category, where Fort High’s total of 53.5 points was second to the host Eagles (327).
Muskie coach Ilka Milne said the big point differentials don’t tell the whole story about the meet, which next year will see changes to its name (the Harry McMaster Classic) and track surface (a new rubberized track will be installed before next year).
“I didn’t feel paying attention to the overall points made sense because we restricted ourselves to entering no more than three events plus one relay per person according to the meet entry rules,” she explained.
“[But] you can see in the results that on the day there were athletes on the other team that entered more than the maximum, so the totals were skewed.”
It also was a smaller-than-usual Muskie contingent of 12 participants that travelled to Dryden as some members of the team were on a school trip to Italy.
The weather and some travel troubles didn’t make for a great beginning to the day.
“The morning was cold and windy, and our team got off to a rocky start with both our boys’ distance runners feeling off form for the 800m,” Milne said about Arthur Van Ael finishing eighth in the race in a time of 2:22.40 and Chandler Cousineau ending up ninth (2:22.69).
“We had cut our arrival a little close to the start and they hadn’t enough time to warm up,” she noted.
But as the day progressed and the temperature rose, so did the achievement level of the Muskie squad.
Kenna Robertson strung together a terrific day—winning gold in the girls’ 100m hurdles with a mark of 17 seconds flat.
That was just ahead of teammate Tory Beaudry, who bounced back well with a bronze-medal showing (17.74) after being injured at the opening meet of the season in International Falls.
Nicole Gage in fourth (18.67), followed by Sarah Angus fifth (19.50), made it four Muskies in the top five.
“Hurdles are a new event for our team this year,” noted Milne.
“After being introduced to them at a pre-season training camp in Dryden this February, we built a full set of adjustable hurdles out of PVC [plastic pipe] and we’ve been practising at regulation heights and spacings to prepare,” she added.
“The practice paid off.”
Robertson also managed bronze in the 100m (15.46) and a fourth in the 400m (1:13.75).
Ashtyn Dokuchie and Angus tied for fourth in the 100m (15.51) while Gage was sixth (15.61) and Beaudry eighth (16.37).
Dokuchie, meanwhile, no equal in the long jump—soaring to a winning mark of 3.44m to easily outdistance Britney Mol of Dryden (3.07).
Fort High’s 4x100m relay quartet of Gage, Beaudry, Dokuchie, and Robertson (anchor) pushed the host Eagles to the wire.
But the Dryden No. 1 team of Mol, Martine Evans, Ally Wisneski, and Arielle Penner held on to win gold in 59.51, just ahead of the Muskies (1:02.48).
Cayla Leimenstoll rounded out the Muskie girls’ results with a solid fifth-place showing in the 1,500m (8:33.51) and eighth in the 800m (2:57.47).
For the Muskie boys, they rebounded from their early woes to also grab some precious medals.
In the battle of “The Two Jakes,” it was Muskie Jacob Empey who proved he was the real “Big Jake” with a gold medal-winning mark of 4.78m in the long jump—well ahead of Dryden’s Jacob Bilous (4.25m).
Empey placed sixth in the 100m (13.10) and also ran the third leg for the Muskies’ 4x100m relay team, which also included Kurt McGuire, Andrew Roth, and Van Ael (anchor), that won silver medal in 4:42.45 behind Dryden (4:34.22).
Van Ael found his groove to wind up second in the 1,500m (5:07.29) behind only Jacob Benson of Dryden (5:01.55).
Cousineau placed seventh in the event in 5:43.45.
McGuire nabbed bronze in the high jump—tying Dryden’s Mitchell Mawby and Jordan MacDougall-Lass from St. Thomas Aquinas (Kenora) at 1.50m behind winner Sean Wood of Dryden (1.60m).
He also was 14th in the 100m (14.15).
Jason Bazylewski, meanwhile, took home a pair of fourth-place finishes in shot put (10.72m) and discus (27.20m).
“Javelin and discus are also new events for us this year,” noted Milne.
“Jason is a power thrower to watch,” she added. “He is in Grade 9 now, and in this open high school competition, [he] placed fourth in shot put and discus.
“We’ll be interested to see how he fares at NWOSSAA.”
Andrew Roth was sixth in the discus (23.38m), seventh in the shot put (9.14m), and ninth in the javelin (22.68m)—two spots behind McGuire in seventh (25.34m).
“Kurt and Andrew, both new to javelin, are anticipating improvements at NWOSSAA, as well,” said Milne.
“Kurt, as a senior, was throwing an 800g javelin.
“He has quickly mastered the technique but slipped twice, so didn’t post his best throw,” she noted.
The NWOSSAA championships take place May 27-28 in Thunder Bay.