Five years ago, the Eden Prairie High School girls track team’s 4x100 relay missed going to state by 0.01 seconds.
At Thursday’s Section 6AA Meet, the girls 4x100 finish appeared just as close.
“As I watched,” said Eden Prairie sprint coach Steve Williams, “I kept thinking not again, not again, not again.
“Jacqi (Jacqi Rae) crossed the finish line and fell forward onto the track,” he added. “She was crying.”
Williams, in his 70s, hurdled the fence to get to her.
Rae was crying tears of joy.
Eden Prairie (Ava Wagner, Makena Kramer, Ellie Stoffel and Rae) earned a state berth with a second-place finish, beating third-place Minnetonka 49.42 – 49.44.
“Complete opposite,” said Williams. “Five years ago, Minnetonka edged us.”
Williams credits Rae’s forward lean.
“That’s all it takes,” he said. “In a race like that, the difference is a blink of an eye.”
Earlier in the meet, Rae would win the shot put event.
“She hurt her back at practice on Monday, so we weren’t sure how she’d do,” said Williams.
“She PRed by two feet,” he said.
Rae threw the shot put a meet-best 40-01.50. Second-place finished at 36-11.25.
Lastly, Eden Prairie qualified two pole vaulters, Carolyn Tarpey and Kenzi Kluge.
Tarpey won a section title, counting a season-best 10-7.
Kluge finished second with 10-4.
“Kenzi hurt her knee two weeks ago during a hurdle race,” said Williams. “It’s still swollen.
“In my day,” he added, “we called it water on the knee.”
Competing in tennis shoes rather than track shoes, Kluge had a noticeable limp racing down the runway.
“She gutted it out,” said Williams.
He then added that he saw Kluge over the weekend at a graduation party.
“She said it’s getting better,” he added.
Tarpey enters the Class AA state meet with the 10th-highest qualifying vault. At 10-4, Kluge’s vault is seeded 13th.
Rae’s shot put (40-01.5) is seeded eighth.
Eden Prairie’s 4x100 is seeded 10th.
Note: Of the meet’s 16 4x100 qualifiers, 15 have times of 49-something.
“Best race of the meet,” said Williams.
“Do your best,” he said. “That’s all you can ever ask for.”
The State Track and Field Championships, at Hamline University, are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Class AA sessions begin at 9 a .m.