Fourteen events scored, St. Louis Park held a double-digit lead over Chanhassen in the girls team points standings in the Metro West Conference Championships May 29 at Robbinsdale Cooper High School.
The Storm had an ace in the hole, though, with the pole vault competition still underway.
The three top finishers in the event all wearing the Blue and Gold, totaling 24 points, helped Chanhassen overtake the Orioles; a third-place finish in the 4x400 relay clinching the team win.
It is the first conference championship since the inaugural year of the Metro West Conference in 2015 and fourth league title overall (2013, 2014 Missota).
Izzy Roemer, among the state's top distance runners, a double event conference champion, said this season has been about realizing one's potential.
"Last season, we didn't have an official season, but we did time trials and I kept getting 11:01 every time in the two-mile. And then this year my first two-mile, I just wanted to be sub-11 minutes, and I went out and ran a 10:29. Honestly that was the point where I knew I could improve on my mile time, my 5K time. I just needed that big drop to realize what I was capable of," she said.
While Chanhassen won six of 18 events, it was the depth of the line-up and a break here or there to win the championship.
Senior Taryn Gellner, runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles in a season-best 17.52 seconds, was in second place with 50 or so meters to go in the 300 lows. When St. Louis Park's Sihirah Reese clipped a hurdle, falling to the track, Gellner ran unopposed to a victory in 48.88 seconds.
A 12-point swing in the favor of Chanhassen.
Freshman Lillian Sather, on a day her brother Eric was the boys pole vault champion, earned a personal-record height of nine feet for first place for the Storm. Her sister, Anika, and fellow senior Kaela Reinhart, swept the top three positions in the event at seven feet, nine inches.
Lucy Pekarek and Anna Lacy leapt to 15 feet, one inch, and 14 feet, 11 1/4 inches, to claim fourth and sixth places for eight points late in the competition as well.
Chanhassen won the meet with 166 points followed by St. Louis Park (163 1/2), Bloomington Jefferson (129 1/2), and Chaska (121).
With top sprinter Diane Rakotamalala sidelined, resting an ailing foot for sections, Chanhassen needed a boost from the distance crew after scoring five total points in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprint dashes.
Count 38 points for Roemer and freshman Marissa Long.
Long held off a late challenge from Jersey Miller of St. Louis Park to win the two-mile race in 11:23.27 with teammate Jennifer Pierson subtracting 46 seconds from her season-best in 12:44 for seventh overall.
Long was coming off a time of 5:08.36, just hundredths of a second off her season-best, for a runner-up time in the 1,600 meters.
The only runner better? Roemer, a meet record time of 4:56.93. A time besting one of the most decorated runners in Storm history in University of Minnesota senior Anastasia Korzenowski by nearly eight seconds.
"It feels really good, but I really wanted a personal record time. I always compare myself to other runners across the state and there are others with sub-4:50, so I was looking to go a little faster," Roemer said.
Roemer, who also won the 800 meters in a career-best 2:20.17, has gone from posting good times in 2019 to great times in 2021. Coming off an injury-riddled 2019 cross country season, Roemer is healthy again and the times are showing that.
"The injury was all the more reason for me to give it my all this season, and really improve on everything I was before. I feel like I've grown a lot as a runner and as a person from dealing with all of that," Roemer said.
After a season of smaller events, being on the big stage at the first of three championship meets felt good Saturday.
"I always say a race is a race, but sometimes you know you don't have to be your fastest to win. My coach (Anita Woodrow) lets me know. But it's hard because I have this mindset of always looking to run a PR. I'm always looking to be my best," Roemer said.
Roemer said having training partners such as Long, who held onto the outside shoulder of Roemer for two laps in the 1,600 meters, and senior Meghan Pierson, who posted a season-best time of 2:30.77 in the 800 meters for fourth place, pushes her to be her best every day.
"I love having Marissa there with me, but I will say I am looking forward to the day where I have girls in front of me so I don't have to lead the race until the end," Roemer said.
Chanhassen had a pair of third-place finishes in relays in the 4x200 and 4x400. Lacy, Kambria Haas-Suggs, Kathryn Hauck, and Jessie Odanga posted an 800-meter time of 1:54.46, while Quinlyn Borner, Roemer, Anelise Hubbard, and Long combined for a time of 4:29.73.
Chanhassen sophomore Avery Linder scored 18 of the 28 throwing points, a shot put title in a career-best 31 feet, 10 inches. Peyton Linder (27-2.5) and Pekarek (25-7) were fifth and eighth, respectively.
Linder reached a personal-best 96 feet, three inches. for a runner-up finish in the discus. Eleanor Smith was fourth overall with an even 92 feet.
Reinhart and Lauren Wosje were fifth and sixth in triple jump with leaps of more than 31 feet with Emma Starkey matching her season-best effort in high jump at five feet.
First there was Kevin Jensen then David Zydowsky and Alex Spillum. Elite high jumpers to come out of the Chanhassen high school track and field program.
Senior Alec Ungar has added his name to the list, becoming the fourth Storm high jumper to reach six feet, four inches. He just missed becoming the second jumper to hit six-five in a championship win on Saturday in the Metro West Conference Championships.
Already the champion, the only competitor to top the bar at six feet, two inches, Ungar cleared six-four, a slight wobble of the bar, on the third and final attempt. His last jump was the closest he's been in competition to reaching the next height.
"It feels good, but I know there's more in me. I really want to break the school record, win a state championship," Ungar said.
Ungar, also a conference champion in long jump, has post-season goals for the high jump. He'd like to top 6 1/2 feet at sections and six feet, eight inches, at state. If his high jump coach Mike Bailey believes he can be there, why not?
"Whatever he tells me something, I'm always trying to replicate what he's saying. Honestly, the difference has been putting the faith in my coach, putting the faith in myself that I can do it. (Coach Bailey) has the knowledge, and I have the athleticism, and from there when we're on the same page we're going to get to higher heights," Ungar said.
Ungar was inserted into the line-up just recently in long jump. With fellow senior Eli Mau sidelined with a leg injury, Ungar had his sights on a championship for his teammate. He eclipsed 20 feet for the first time, an official jump of 20 feet, 9 1/2 inches, for a victory by a foot.
"I've been talking with (coach Kyle Zygarlicke) all year about it. He was telling me things I needed to do if I wanted to get into some farther distances. I've been watching Eli jump farther than I did today all year, so I just had to come out and win it for him," Ungar said.
Despite missing a host of top athletes including Mau, Charlie Coenen, Tyrique Williams and Ungar -- he was battling a cold -- on the track, Chanhassen posted a runner-up score of 128 points. Chaska was first at 147 with Bloomington Jefferson in third with 120 and Robbinsdale Cooper rounding out the top four with 98 points.
Senior Ben Scheller and junior Cole Donahe accounted for three wins and a third-place finish between the 400 and 3,200 meters. Scheller broke a Metro West Conference record in the one-mile run previously held by his brother, Nick, in a time of 4:15.43.
Scheller returned in the 3,200 meters with Andrew Allredge for first and fourth places in 9:58.58 and 10:22.36.
Donahe, third in the 400 meters (52.82), posted a season-best time of 2:03.24 for a victory in the 800 meters. Senior Justin Roemer (2:04.80) and junior Ryan Stratton (2:05.36) were third and fifth in the 800 in career-best times.
Isaac Cameron, Jack Olson, Jaxon McDonald, and Roemer were first overall in the 4x800 relay (8:39.96) with the 4x400 relay of Josiah Schmidt, Joey Holmen, Cameron, and Scheller crossing the finish line in second place in 3:40.27.
Eric Sather's pole vault finish of 13 1/2 feet, matching a season-best effort, took first place for the Storm. Zachary Meyer was fourth in triple jump (34 feet, 11 inches), with Desmond Jackson (44-8.5), Gabriel Lindsay-Wartnick (44-4.5) and Noah Kovic (41-2.5) placing third, fourth and sixth in shot put with personal-best throws.
Chanhassen competes in the one-day timed finals in Section 2AA on June 7 (girls events plus boys 3,200 meters) and June 9 (boys events plus girls 3,200 meters) at Waconia High School.