BISMARCK Twenty years ago, Minot High girls coach Disa Salander won the Class A girls discus state title as a student at Grand Forks Central.
In the 14 years as a coach, Salander never had a girls discus state champion. Junior Jessica Drady ended that drought with a throw of 124 feet, 9 inches to claim the discus title at the Class A state track and field meet Saturday at the Bismarck Community Bowl. Classmate MacKenzie Gleason finished second with a toss of 119-6.
"I'm on cloud nine right now," Drady said. "I just think Mack and I came in here knowing we wanted this more than anyone else. We wanted to be one and two. We did it and it's just amazing."
Minot High junior Jessica Drady throws during the final round of the discus event Saturday at the Class A state track and field meet at the Bismarck Community Bowl. Drady won the event with a throw of 124 feet, 9 inches.
Karter Gorney and the Minot 400 relay team finished first in 43.25 seconds.
Drady brushed off a rough outing at the West Region meet last weekend when she finished 10th with a throw of 104-10, roughly 24 feet short of her season best. She set her state-winning distance during her flight and saw it stand after the final round.
"We did struggle at WDA," Salander said. "We had a tough field the whole day. We just had a great practice week. We talked about it just takes one throw and it showed today."
Drady finished sixth at the state meet last year with a throw of 128-4.
Gleason also entered Saturday's event looking to avenge previous disappointment. Just 24 hours earlier, Gleason advanced to the shot put finals, but finished ninth and off the podium. She made sure that didn't happen again by posting the second-best throw during her flight.
"To be honest I didn't really want shot put to get to me because discus is my event," Gleason said. "This is the one I knew I'd do well because I have a talent for it."
Said Salander: "She put that all to the side. She really loves the discus so I knew it wasn't going to be a problem for her."
West Fargo's Keely Walker entered the event with the top throw of the season at 130-11, but she finished eighth at 112-1. Bismarck schools rounded out the rest of the top eight, with Century grabbing the third, fourth, fifth and seven spots, while Bismarck's Brittany Hawkinson took sixth.
Magicians take 400-meter relay title
There was a lot going through the minds of Minot's 400 relay team heading into its event.
There were nerves. There was anger. There was pain.
Yet, when the starting gun went off, Minot looked as strong as they have all season long. The team of seniors Josh Pizzo and Tre Kinchen, junior Karter Gorney and sophomore Myles Preskey took the 400 relay title in 43.25 seconds, edging St. Mary's by 0.24.
"That group of boys has worked really hard," Minot coach Aaron Klingbeil said. "They've bonded as a relay team. You're nervous that someone else might rise up and beat you, but you're not nervous that they're not going to do the job."
From the starting gun to the home stretch, there was plenty to focus on. Earlier in the day, Pizzo had been disqualified from the 100 after a false start. He was the opening leg of the relay and used the disappointment and anger from the false start in the 100 to give the relay a strong jump.
"It was a lot of built-up emotions from the false start," Pizzo said. "You just have to move on. Coaches talked to me. I cooled down a little bit. They said to take my anger out on the 4x1."
Said Klingbeil: "We trust Josh. Josh took a calculated risk there (in the 100). It was risky, but he knew he was running against some fast guys and the start is one of his strongest points. In the relay, he's a good enough competitor to know that if he gets disqualified his team is on his back, so he wasn't going to take that kind of risk. He still had a great start and kicked it off great."
As intriguing as the start was, the finish was just intriguing as Gorney was running on an injured leg. It gave him trouble in both the 100 and 200 as he finished third in both. But Gorney delivered then his team needed him the most, beating Noah Krebs of St. Mary's to the finish line.
"It was a rough day," Gorney said. "I have a hurt leg. That's not an excuse, but I had to give it my all for those two seniors that have been working hard all year."
Majettes finish 5th, Magicians 6th
Saturday proved to be a great day for the Majettes.
It started in the field with Drady and Gleason's 1-2 finish in the discus and ended on the track with the 1,600 relay taking fourth. When it was all over, the Majettes stood on the podium in fifth place, finishing with 50 points.
While Salander would like to credit the discus throwers on setting the tone for the day - being a discus thrower herself - she was happy with everyone's performance.
"I'd like to think that was it, but anything can happen," she said. "The girls decided to line up and race today."
Junior Madison Milbrath gave the Majettes four points in the 400 dash with her fifth-place finish. Milbrath ran the exact same time in the final as she did in the preliminary, crossing the finish line in 59.65.
Also scoring points on the track for Minot were junior Sophie Bengson and sophomore Kylie Alexander, who placed 3-4 in the 300 hurdles. Bengson shaved nearly two seconds off her preliminary time to grab third in 45.30. Alexander finished in 46.11.
The relays delivered as well, with both the 400 and 1,600 relays grabbing fourth. The 400 relay of Bengson, senior Emma Sandy, sophomore De'chelle Roby and freshman Terris Ervin finished in 50.43, eight-hundredths behind third-place Mandan.
"The 4x1 was really great because our freshman girl has had a rough state meet and she got a great handoff and it was awesome," Salander said.
The 1,600 relay put a bow on the day as Milbrath, Alexander, senior Kelly Wu and Bengson posted their best time of the year with a 4:06.06.
As for the Magicians, they placed sixth with a team score of 42.50. They were clipped by Grand Forks Red River by 3.50 points for fifth.
"We performed better than we were supposed to in almost every department," Klingbeil said. "How much more can you ask? People want to come in and win everything and beat the odds in absolutely everything. There's a lot of good athletes here and that's just not going to happen."
With the Magicians silent in the field on the final day, nearly everyone on the track scored in their respective event. Gorney took third in the 100 and 200. Ben Love grabbed eighth in the 110 hurdles. Kimani Benjamin placed sixth in the 400 and the 1,600 relay finished fourth after the 400 relay grabbed the top spot. That's why it was difficult for Klingbeil to single out one or two athletes that stood out.
"I'd have to name everyone that competed today because they've all contributed here and there," Klingbeil said.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.