Saints save the best for lastMay 21, 2021 10:47PM ● By Kristi Nixon
DES MOINES — Saint Ansgar’s day on the track and in the field wasn’t exactly going the Saints way on Friday.
Several close calls had the Saints just missing the finals in events throughout the day.
That is, until the 4x400-meter preliminaries.
Both girls and boys teams ran their best to secure spots in Saturday’s final in the event.
“It felt pretty good,” lead-off runner Hannah Clevenger said. “The hand-offs were good, I know we practice it a lot. It is so good (to get this one). I’m so proud of them. (Saturday the plan is to) Run fast, turn left.”
The girls ran to 4 minutes, 14.30 seconds to clock in with the fourth fastest time out of the three heats. The Saints barely nipped Audubon to the line by six-hundredths of a second.
“The people in lane 5 had the same time as us (going in), really made it hard for us to think about, ‘oh they could beat us at anytime,’” second leg Natalie Bork said. “It was neck-and-neck the whole race.”
Taylor Hanna, who was part of the distance medley that had an issue with its final exchange, and although it recovered quickly, said this was much smoother.
“Way better,” Hanna said. “Definitely, I think our 4x4 did a real good job of finishing. It’s what we do. We have to go out and win tomorrow.”
Hanna is the only senior on a team that includes three freshmen, including anchor Cora Heeter.
“This is amazing,” Heeter said. “It’s so fun that we got to be here and now we get to be in the finals which is even better.
“We plan to be new leaders (in the future) for the freshmen and we can keep the tradition going.”
The Saint boys team followed that up with the third-fastest qualifying time while coming out of the second heat.
The foursome of Bradley Hackenmiller, Braden Powers, Derek Peterson and Ryan Cole was nipped at the line by Danville, 3:28.11 to 3:29.32.
Cole got the baton in second place and kept it close the rest of the way.
“I used all I had to try to get him at the beginning, so I decided to use everything I had left to push forward and hopefully qualify for a final spot,” Cole said. “That’s the goal.”
Hackenmiller, the lead-off runner, said the second lane wasn’t something he and his teammates were used to.
“I thought our exchanges were some of the best we’ve had all year,” Hackenmiller said. “We’ve been running out of four-five-or-six all year but I like the pressure, I guess.
“We’re seeded third, so we’ll run it like we normally do and see what happens.”