Going up against a crowded, 16-team field mostly made up of schools much larger than theirs, the North Branch Vikings boys and girls track and field team knew they were going against some long odds. Despite that, the Vikings showed grit and determination in achieving several personal bests and placing a few on the awards stand at Section 7AA meets on May 29 and June 1 at Chisago Lakes High School. 

In doing so, the Vikings also ended their one-year drought of sending someone to the state meet as sophomore Paige Bauer soared to a second-place finish in the pole vault to earn her first trip to state. Even if another competitor had topped her height, the sophomore was guaranteed a spot due to matching the minimum qualifying standards of 11’1”.

The team came close to qualifying in more events, but fell just short against the stiff competition. The girls 4x200 team came in less than two seconds after the second-place team from Elk River for the closest miss on the girls side.

For the boys, Matthew Stuber and Joseph Nihart came in with nearly identical times in the 1600 meter run, placing third and fourth, just a second away from one of them qualifying for state. Jose Flor was the top pole vaulter not competing for Cambridge-Isanti (who sent three competitors to state), placing fourth in the event.

Savannah Hoard and Jerome Swan each qualified for the finals in the 200, with both of them finishing in sixth. Nihart would also medal in the 1600, coming in fifth, and Stuber would add an eighth in the 3200. Rounding out the medalists was Harrison Toussaint’s seventh place in the high jump, Alex Puckett’s eighth place in the 400, Abby Schulte’s seventh and Katelynn Mcabee’s eighth in the shot put and the girls 4x100 relay’s sixth place.

Bauer will now compete in the state meet on Saturday, June 8. The start time for pole vault is scheduled for 9 a.m.

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