Faith Robinson has seen and done it all it seems in high school sports.
Twelve varsity letters between three sports, diving in the fall, gymnastics in the winter (through her sophomore year) and track and field in the spring.
A 23-time state qualifier, a 12-time All-State selection, an 11-time all-Lake Conference honoree, and not to mention a Minnesota State High School League ExCel Award winner and Triple-A (Arts, Academics, Athletics) nominee.
Robinson, who has also lent her voice to a number of state competitions signing the National Anthem, may have saved her best performance for last.
Taking the baton for the anchor leg of the 4x200 relay on June 8 in the Class AA State Track and Field Meet at Hamline University in St. Paul, Robinson was in a group of five runners with a shot at crossing the finish line first.
Pulling into first place with 100 meters to go, Robinson led Minnetonka to a time of 1:42.08 for first place, just off the preliminary effort of 1:41.86.
Unable to see the finish line in the far corner, Skipper teammates Desiree Ware and Ella Roach didn’t need to see the final meters. They grabbed hands and started sprinting across the infield. They knew who was winning this race.
They had a lot of faith in Faith.
It is back-to-back state relay wins in the 4x200 for Minnetonka. Robinson anchored the team in 2018, fellow senior Ashley Shields was back for the second title as well.
“I felt amazing. We had a ton of confidence we could win this race again. That was what Faith and I set out to do this year, defend the title. We had the fastest seed time and I knew if we ran the kind of race we’re capable of, I felt the whole time we were going to win,” Shields said.
Minnetonka has juggled its 4x200 relay up throughout the year. Trying to find the perfect runners to join Shields and Robinson. Roach and Ware, a sophomore and freshman, respectively, ended up being the perfect choices.
“It was very exciting. Having these two to lead us, as seniors, in practice, to work together to accomplish this,” Ware said.
“We’ve built so much trust over the season that we come into this meet very confident in each others’ abilities and we know we can rely on each other to get the job done,” Robinson said.
For Robinson, the 2019 State Meet was six years in the making. She made her first appearance on the big stage in 2014, running the opening leg in a fourth-place 4x100 relay as a seventh grader.
Minnetonka was team state champions that season. Again in 2018.
Robinson was sixth in the 4x200 as an eighth grader, seventh in the event as a freshman, and third as a sophomore.
Along the way, she qualified five times individually between the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Her best finish came as a senior, missing the podium by one position, eight hundredths of a second, in a personal state-best 12.41 seconds.
Oh, and she was also a career-best fourth in the long jump competition on June 7, a distance of 17 feet, 10 1/2 inches. Just one inch off a top-two finish.
“It’s crazy. This was my sixth time in this meet for track. Wow. I’m so happy to go out with these girls. They’ve been just such girls to compete with, our entire team has just been great, one family. ... I’m just so glad I got to be a part of this whole experience,” Robinson said.
out the Skippers
Four teams were seeded ahead of Minnetonka’s 4x800 relay in the Class AA State finals June 8, including Wayzata, which was a whole seven seconds faster at the Section 6AA Meet.
Never count out the Skippers, though.
From sophomore Annalise Johnson to junior Kylie Melz to sophomore Anna Wander to freshman Kate LeBlanc, Minnetonka was strong in all four legs, winning the program’s 10th 4x800 relay in a time of 9:20.54.
White Bear Lake was second at 9:22.87 followed by Alexandria, St. Michael-Albertville and Wayzata.
“We really work well together. We really train hard for the 800 race. We’ve always had a deep team in this event, support each other really well,” Johnson said.
Johnson was there for the 2018 title, a dominating time of 9:09. Joined by three seniors for that championship, Minnetonka needed to reload in 2019. LeBlanc and Wander, second and fifth in the Section 6AA 800-meter finals, were added. Melz, on the state team in 2017, brought big-meet experience.
“We’ve had this great tradition in this race. A lot of girls we’ve looked up to with past teams. It’s a relay you want to be part of, whether running it or as an alternate. It’s just an exciting to be a part of,” said Melz, an alternate on the 2018 championship team.
Melz credited “ice baths” and “visualizing our potential” throughout the week in helping Minnetonka have the confidence, and the strength, to come out as champions once again.
After a strong opening leg from Johnson, Melz and Wander kept Minnetonka within striking distance, at one point taking control of the lead with 500 meters to go with a strong push from Wander.
“Kylie came in in first, but there were some other girls right behind. I just wanted to widen the gap. I went out fast, and I was pretty tired there in the end, but I just wanted to be in a good spot for Kate,” Wander said.
LeBlanc took the baton in third place, moving up to second into the final lap, quickly overtaking a runner from Alexandria for first place. The margin of the lead only continued to grow over the final 300 meters for Minnetonka.
After losing a talented anchor in Libby Halbmeier to graduation, Minnetonka now has its next budding star in LeBlanc, who was 10th individually in the preliminaries in a time of 2:17.14.
“I just stayed positive, focused on keeping my form and pushing hard, but also be patient in passing the girls in front of me,” LeBlanc said.
Minnetonka, with three podium finishes, was ninth overall with 30 points.