If Tess Nelson is going to win a third consecutive state title in the 300-meter hurdles, the Northwestern senior will have to accomplish the feat with little more than one month of on-track preparation.
Due to a late spring, the 17-year-old has yet to compete outdoors in the race she has dominated the past two Wisconsin Division 2 state meets.
But that doesn’t mean Nelson won’t hit the track running once all the snow melts in the Maple area. After a winter spent lifting weights and working on plyometric exercises, Nelson says she is ready.
“I’m definitely going for a third (title) and hoping to break 45 (seconds) because I’ve been very close, but I’m not there yet,” said Nelson, who also hopes to finish in the top six in the 100 hurdles.
Similar to her victory as a sophomore, she chased down leader Kathryn Croney of Oconto last season to win in a time of 45.66 seconds.
“That last 100 meters is when she starts running them down and making her move,” Tigers coach Noah Jurek said.
Nelson has used the indoor season to work on her start times, leading to her setting a record in the 55-meter hurdles at the Simpson Invitational and bettering that time in two other indoor meets.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to work on this year is getting out of the blocks faster so I can keep up my speed for the whole race and not just kick it in at the end,” she said.
Nelson accepted a full-tuition scholarship from NCAA Division I Wisconsin-Milwaukee in February.
“It felt like it was a really good fit for me,” she said. “They have a good program and some newer coaches and I like their workouts and philosophy.”
Nelson also competes in the long jump and will run a leg in the 1,600 relay for the Tigers, who have several standout seniors. Jordan Johnson finished ninth in the 1,600 at state last year, 11th in the 800 in 2011 and has been on two state meet relays, pole vaulters Logan Holly (fifth in 2012) and Brooke McCauley (out due to injury last season) are state meet veterans and Angela Snow and Beth Gurske have run in state relays. Superior returns several girls with experience at the Division 1 state meet, including senior miler Leah Holmes (eighth in 2012). Holmes, who owns the school record in the 800 and runs anchor on a 1,600 relay that has run at the state meet four of the past five years, also signed a national letter of intent to attend Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Sophomore sprinter Lauren Magnuson, sophomore hurdler Giselle Sziron and two-time Lake Superior Conference pole vault champion Carissa Welch all participated at the 2012 state meet. Lucy Robb set a school record in the 300 hurdles at Duluth East last year and the junior also ran on the Greyhounds’ 800 state relay. Senior Lauren Elwell also ran on that team, while distance runners Carolyn Lucca, Madeline Fontaine, Sophie Schuder and Abby Holak all had good starts to their seasons. Seniors Emily Rikkola and Emily Wangen and sophomore Emily Genereau, an open 400 section finalist, should make Cloquet’s 1,600-meter relay tough again this year. Hermantown senior Natalie Stauber was named to the All-LSC team in the 800 and two relays, while junior Ashley Michaelson was conference champion in the shot put and discus. Senior relay specialists Kyla Kaspszak and Jenna Wassenaar also return. Esko has dominated Section 7A for years and returns several state meet veterans. Former state cross country champion Marisa Shady (400), Katelyn Beckman (shot put, discus), Dallas Cossalter (100, 200), Kallyn Knutson (800, 1,600), Erika Olson (100 hurdles) and Brooke Schramm (300 hurdles) head up the senior class. Juniors Erika Shady (200) and Hailey Salo (shot put) and sophomore Kailee Kiminski (800, 1,600) are other section contenders. Proctor returns two state meet qualifiers in juniors Megan Sundstrom (300 hurdles) and Bridgit Tesser (high jump). Sundstrom narrowly missed in the triple jump as did sophomore Kelly Kruger in the sprints and junior Brianna Westendorf in the 1,600. South Ridge’s Gracelynn Otis surprised by winning the 1,600 and 3,200 runs as an eighth-grader and hopes to improve on a sixth-place finish in the state meet 1,600 and 15th in the 3,200. Senior Breena Alfredson won the section high jump and placed 10th at state. International Falls returns a trio of state qualifiers in juniors Breanna Shofner (100, 200, 400 relay) and Hailey Fentem (100 hurdles) and sophomore Savanah Olson (shot put, discus). Shofner expects to add long jump to her repertoire this year and Fentem will try high jump, long jump and triple jump. Eveleth-Gilbert boasts a lot of young talent, including sophomore Alyssa Olson (third in 100 hurdles at sections). Tops among upperclassmen are Amy Terrio in the 400, Johannah Wyrick — a state-meet cross country runner — in the distance races, 300 hurdles and relays, and Amanda Gordon in the 400 and long jump.
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