Realizing a personal-best accomplishment at the end of the season is something all athletes strive for.
For Grace Adsem, after suffering a broken ankle at a home event in the spring of 2018, losing half of her junior season, she vowed to come back and do big things as a senior.
Returning to the pole vault, Adsem reached new heights throughout the season, winning the Metro West Conference title at nine feet, seven inches. On May 31 in the Section 2AA Meet at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, one attempt left at 10-1, Adsem realized another personal record.
Getting over the bar, landing on the mat, Adsem was all smiles. While not a state qualifier, finishing fourth, the hard work paid off.
"It feels good to work all season for this meet. Today we had perfect conditions for pole vault, there was no wind or anything. I was really set-up to do my best. It was so exciting," Adsem said.
Adsem wonders what if. Had she been healthy last year, she would have been seeded second at sections. This year with a pair of Mankato West freshmen in the mix, Adsem was seeded fourth.
"There never was a doubt I was coming back," said Adsem, also a goaltender for the soccer team the last three seasons. "I love it. Pole vault is the best event in track and field. I'm glad I joined my freshman year, decided to do this."
Chanhassen will have its third pole vaulter at state in school history in senior Jack Kelly. On Day One on May 29, Kelly, seeded second, hit a personal-best 13 feet, two inches, for second place.
Kelly earned his first win at the Metro West Conference Relays and then did it against at the Metro West Conference Championships.
It was those moments that had him ready to take on the competition to advance to state.
"It was a good day, nice competition, nice mat, a good day overall," Kelly said.
The last state pole vaulter for Chanhassen, Anders Janes in 2017, was in attendance to support Kelly.
"He was out here, giving me pointers, helping me out. Definitely a good role model to follow," said Kelly, who practiced with Janes in his first season on the team as a sophomore.
A third Chanahssen senior pole vaulter, John Noble, was fourth in the section event at 12 even feet.
"It's been great having him," Kelly said of Noble. "We're always suggesting different poles. One guy tries one and likes it and the other guy is trying it, too. We have definitely pushed each other to get where we are."
As a first-time participant at state, the nerves can get to an athlete, but Kelly feels like he has nothing to lose. Just gain some good times.
"I'm just going to try and have a fun time. I know it will be some tough competition, but just as long as I go out, try my best, enjoy the day and opportunity, that's all I can expect," he said.
WHAT A TIME
Sophie Pawlyshyn was slow out of the blocks, sixth or seventh a quarter of the way down the track in the 100-meter dash.
By the finish line, the Chanhassen senior was second, a career-best time of 12.44 seconds. Playing catch-up was a prelude for her next race.
Third or fourth when taking the baton for the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay, Pawlyshyn was shot out of a cannon, passing between runners from Buffalo and Shakopee.
Not only was Chanhassen champions, their time, 49.44, was among the fastest in the state this year.
"It was scary. I really wanted to be at state one more time with Anna (Monarski)," said Pawlyshyn, the two part of a fourth-place 4x200 relay in 2016. Pawlyshyn, as an eighth grader, was runner-up in the 4x100 relay in 2015, too.
"With Taryn (Gellner) and Diane (Rakotomalala), it's all about the sweatshirts. We all want to be there together, so I just thought I have to do it for them," Pawlyshyn added.
Three teams within 15 hundredths of a second of each other, it was Pawlyshyn's anchor that was the difference.
The number 44 was lucky for the senior sprinter. All three of her races, including a fifth-place run in the 200 meters (26.44 seconds), ended with that number.
And now Pawlyshyn is headed to state in two events.
"My goal when I joined the team in seventh grade was to make it to state in an individual event. Well, it only took me six years, but it was finally my time to do it. I was really happy with my time," said Pawlyshyn, who fought off a groin issue from the preliminaries.
Rakotomalala was ninth in the 100 meters (13.01) with Isabella Roemer taking fourth in the 1,600 meters (5:23.14) and 3,200 meters (11:37.27). Gellner was also in the 300-meter hurdle finals, placing sixth in 48.49 seconds.
FOLLOWING A FRIEND
Torin Christianson knows wherever John Starkey of Chaska is, being a few steps behind him in the 800 meters is generally a good thing.
The strategy paid off in the Section 2AA Meet, a runner-up time of 1:56.81, a season-best, to advance back to state.
Starkey and Christianson were third and seventh in the 2018 state meet.
"It's so nice to have someone before the races to talk to, strategize with," Christianson said of Starkey. "I did what I always do when I race with John, and that's stay right behind him. He always seems to run consistent, get good times. If I'm a couple of steps behind him, I'm going to be in a pretty good spot."
After a disappointing first couple of distance races for Chanhassen, Christianson's close teammate, Nick Scheller, beaten over the final meters in third-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200, the 800 was a big spot for the Storm.
"Honestly, my hope at state is to first make it back for the finals. It's going to be super weird not having Nick or Zach (Long) there with me. I feel bad for Nick. He works so hard, and the (Nick) Oak kid from Buffalo just had a couple of great races," Christianson said.
Scheller missed state by eight hundredths of a second on Day One in the 3,200 meters (9:23.38) and 21 hundredths of a second in the 1,600 finals (4:20.08).
Long was also fifth in the 1,600 meters in 4:33.78.
Christianson has dabbled with other events the past two years, first the 1,600, and now the 400 this season. In the end, the 800 is his race.
"The 400, muscularly, is just absolute hell. It's super hard to run. And the mile mentally puts a big toll on you. The 800 is a perfect balance where my muscles can take it and I'm mentally tough enough to finish out with a good time," he said.
Additionally, Jack Carver and Cole Fischer were seventh and eighth in the 110-meter hurdles in 16.73 and 16.78, with Jacob Miller, Alex Feliciano, James Reid, and Spencer Dirken taking sixth in the 4x100 relay in 44.81 seconds.
Alec Ungar hit six feet, two inches, for a personal-best high jump for third place, with Dieken and Miller in fifth and sixth places in long jump at 19-11 and 19-10.5, respectively.
Chanhassen was fifth in the boys standings with 58 1/2 points with the girls in seventh with 50.