BISMARCK - Dylan Jechort was slightly behind his Bismarck High counterpart when he took the baton from junior leadoff Josh Pizzo in Minot High's 800-meter relay preliminary heat.
Jechort, the only senior in the Magicians' sprint relays, capitalized on the smooth exchange and quickly put MHS in the lead. Junior Alex Yanosko did his part as the third leg and sophomore Karter Gorney crushed the field to ensure MHS the second-best qualifying time - one minute, 32.30 seconds - for today's final.
"It felt great," Jechort said. "I was coming in fast, building the lead on the guys in front of me. I got to (Yanosko), we had a great exchange. It felt really good, real good for the state meet."
Fargo North won the other heat in 1:29.52. Times may be faster today if winds die down from the 20-mph average on Friday.
"With a wind like this you don't expect anything sub-1:30, so that's a really good time," Jechort said.
Later in the afternoon, MHS ran the same lineup in the 400 relay and took the top preliminary time in 43.51. Fargo South and Bismarck St. Mary's tied at 44.02 to lead a tight pack of four teams under 44.10.
Majettes advance two in 300 hurdles
Minot High School sophomore Sophie Bengson and freshman Kylie Alexander advanced to today's 300-meter hurdles final.
The pair ran in the same preliminary heat with top-seeded Chelsea Peterson of Mandan, who won the heat in 46.35 seconds. Fargo Shanley sophomore Afure Adah had the top time overall and won the second heat in 45.82.
"I learned that I just gotta fight through the wind and everything, no matter what, and just do my best because the wind affects everybody, not just me," Bengson said.
Bengson qualified in sixth place at 47.00 and Alexander was seventh in 47.98. MHS senior Samantha Huether did not advance.
Bengson had the fourth-best time coming into the meet at 46.68. She looked comfortable in the prelim and won't have to worry about the 800 relay as the Majettes failed to advance. Bengson also failed to qualify for the finals in the triple jump, an event she started participating in this season.
"For (300) prelims, I just wanted to make it to finals, save my energy for tomorrow and then really just go hard tomorrow," Bengson said.
'Race for him, practice for us'
Three seasons of racing against Bismarck High star Jake Leingang is more than enough for Minot High School junior Andrew Beach.
Leingang is a top-five high school distance runner in the country and it was more than apparent during the 1600-meter run Friday. He repeated as state champion with a 4:13.69 and the next closest finisher ran 4:26.29. Beach finished 12th out of 23 runners in 4:31.60.
"Leingang definitely put a damper on anyone else getting first ever, you know what I mean?" Beach said. "It will make it a lot more exciting because there will be a lot of people fighting for first place. Whether it's the cross country season or whatever distance event in track, he pretty much had everything covered. It'll leave the races a lot more open as far as who can contend to win."
Beach will run against Leingang once more in today's 3200 final, where the Oregon University-bound phenom is not expected to be challenged. Leingang's ran 8:52.94 this season, nearly 50 seconds faster than the second-best qualifier.
"I almost don't even think of myself as racing against him anymore just 'cause he's so far ahead of everyone," Beach said. "I always know I'm gonna finish behind him, obviously, so I just kind of think of it as practice for him and a race for us. I see him out there and it's cool to race with someone that fast."