Meldahl, O’Hare shine at state track meet

Triton Meldahl

Luke O’Hare

Triton Meldahl

Luke O’Hare
By : 
Scott Bestul

Neither of them had been there before, but Triton Meldahl and Luke O’Hare made it look like they were old hands at the MSHSL State Track & Field Meet last Saturday. Meldahl cracked the top ten in the 110-meter high hurdles, and O’Hare did the same in the 3200-meter and 1600-meter races. The meet placed an exclamation mark on what has been a fine year for the pair and, even better, both return for the 2020 season.

Friday was largely a day devoted to prelims, and Meldahl made the most of his opportunity. Only nine hurdlers would advance to the Saturday final, and the speedy junior made the cut, covering the distance in 15.70. The race was run under hot sun and high humidity, typically good conditions for sprinters and hurdlers, who risk injury in cool temps. Meldahl’s time had him seeded ninth going into the Saturday final; the top seed (15.18) belonged to Providence Academy sophomore Jayson Ekiyor.

O’Hare ran one of the few finals scheduled for Friday, and by the time the R-P/H sophomore lined up for the 3200-meter conditions were still warm and muggy. Running in the first state track meet, O’Hare said the heat was significant, “but the breeze kicked in and that helped a lot. The first two laps were pretty fast, and then things kind of settled down. I was able to get in a good kick on the last 400 meters and passed a couple of guys, so that felt good.” O’Hare finished in 10:03.43, good enough for 10th place in the 16-runner field. Though the time was off his personal-best of 9:55.20, O’Hare did beat Alexander Lawrence of Stewartville, who had edged him out in the Section 1A meet. Sophomore Geno Uhrbom of Greenway/Nashwauk grabbed the gold in the race, covering the eight laps in 9:24.07.

Saturday dawned sunny and bright as well, and conditions were still warm when the 1A meet kicked off in the afternoon. Meldahl was first up in the 110-meter hurdle final and finished exactly where he was seeded, clocking a 16.24 to place ninth and make the medal stand. “I was really pleased with Triton’s performance,” said Trojans’ coach Alex defenbacg. “All kinds of things can go wrong in those short races, and just to get in the final is a really big deal.” As he did the prelims, P-A sophomore Ekiyor topped all hurdlers, grabbing the gold with a 14.96.

O’Hare’s 1600-meter final was run in the early evening, and Moga said the sophomore distance standout was “more relaxed than he was on Friday, and settled in and ran his personal best.” O’Hare said the 1600-field was “a little more packed than the 3200. My legs were a little tired at first, but I just hung in there.”

As he did in the 3200, O’Hare beat the Section 1A champion, this time Pine Island junior Eric Wittlief. O’Hare’s 4:32.89 was not only his personal best, but it placed him eighth in the 16-man field and earned him a spot on the medal stand. As he did in the 3200, Greenway/Nashwauk’s Uhrbom claimed gold in the 1600-meters, covering the four laps in an impressive 4:18.22.

Moga was pleased with the R-P/H duo’s state trip. “Triton and Luke did a great job at the state track and field meet,” he said. “Both of them faced some great competition in their events and performed at an elite level. Luke and Triton should be proud of their accomplishments this season.”