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PHS Track & Field: McClellan wins 3200m State Championship

Maddie McClellan stands atop the podium after winning the Class A State Championship in the 3200m run. In 2nd place is Paynesville's Linda Keller, the defending champ, and in 3rd place is Kyle Blakeslee of Cannon Falls.1 / 2
Sam Stoll edges Andrew Theis of Sibley East at the finish line to finish 12th in the 3200m race.2 / 2

By John George

Perham junior Maddie McClellan has plenty of medals from State events at home. She's finished third in the 3200m race at the State Track and Field Meet twice. She was a member of a State Champion 4x800 relay team, and she owns several team and individual medals from State Cross Country.

One thing she didn't have was an individual title. Until now.

McClellan held off the defending State champ Linda Keller of Paynesville to win the 3200m State Championship Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul. She finished with a time of 11:00.99, a school record and 40 seconds faster than her time at the Section 6A Championship last week at MSU-Moorhead (11:40.77).

McClellan stayed with the main pack for the first few laps. She broke out with the lead group of four runners, then took the lead half way through the race.

"I just wanted to go out smart that first lap," McClellan said. "That really affects how the whole race goes. I went out a little slower than the pack in the first lap and I think that helped a lot. I just decided to stay in the pack the first mile at least.

"I felt the pace slow down and I was feeling really good, like I could push harder," she added. "So after that first mile, I felt it was time to make a move and see what I could do.

What she could do, and did do, was take the lead. She wouldn't give it up.

"I was feeling pretty good about it (taking the lead at the 1-mile mark)," McClellan said. "I really didn't have too much doubt that I could hold them off. I have a lot of confidence in how I finish a race."

As much confidence as she had, it didn't stop her from wondering what was going on behind her. McClellan and keller broke out from the lead pack and made it a two-girl race.

"I figured it was Keller (keeping pace)," McClellan said. "I knew it was Keller. And I could see her shadows when we went around the corners. I never look behind my shoulder. I just don't. I just had to keep pushing on and not let her catch me."

She wouldn't. Keller finished nearly four seconds behind McClellan (11:04.25). Keller won last year's 3200m race with a time of 11:03.29. McClellan's third place time in 2008 was 11:09.96. This year, McClellan entered the State Meet with the sixth fastest time.

"Just getting third the last two years, and knowing I could get up there, it just feels really good," McClellan said. "I knew I could get third or better and was just hoping to do better this time."

McClellan was calm, and cool after winning. The same could not be said of distance running coach Jeff Morris.

"I'm going a little nuts right now," Morris said after the race. "I probably get more excited than they (the kids) do. I'm so happy for Maddie right now I can't even explain it."

Morris said he was yelling at McClellan to move outside the pack to the second running lane on the track. When he saw that she heard his advise, and moved outside to take the lead, Morris knew the race was over.

"I had a feeling she was going to win," Morris said. "She had a look. It was just like when Kevin (Lachowitzer) won a few years ago. I just knew she'd do it."

Before the race, McClellan was putting on her shoes when she felt something funny. She took off one shoe to discover her blue ribbon from her championship in the 3200m last week at the Section 6A Meet. She kept it with her warm-ups as she ran the race. Little did she know at the time, that when the race ended, she'd be leaving the track with two blue ribbons in her hand.

"Wow. A State Champion," she said. "It's really cool."

Stoll 12th in 2-mile

In the boys 3200m race, Sam Stoll overcame a very slow start to finish 12th in the 3200m run. His time of 10:14.83 was a personal best by one second.

Stoll began the race in 16th place, dead last, for the first two laps.

"It was a little scary being that far behind," he said. "I'm not used to that."

Stoll made steady progress over the final six laps to take 12th in his first ever State Track Meet.

"There's always next year," he said.

Paul Koullick of Blake School won the 3200m race with a time of 9:38.87, edging teammate Stewart Richardson by one second.

Tough 2nd day

Things didn't go so well for McClellan on day two of the State Track Meet. She was competing in the Class A 1600m, where she entered with the fourth best qualifying time.

After a slow start, things went bad for McClellan, who was disqualified for impeeding the progress of another runner.

According to Morris, McClellan was attempting to break away from a close pack of runners to the outside of the track, when her feet got tangled up with another runner who was behind her. An officials yellow flag was immeadiatly raised, indicating a foul.

McClellan said she was unaware of the DQ until she was preparing to go to the awards stand to receive a medal for her ninth place finish.

Morris said the DQ was the correct call, according to the written rules. But he added in a race like the 1600m, where runners stay in tight packs, that the rule should be more lenient because there was no intent, just a desire on the part of one runner to get away from the close proximity of the pack.

McClellan, fresh off a 3200m championship the day before, was unphased.

"They can't take my other medal away," she said, smiling.

Stacy Kern of Osakis, the Section 6A runner-up to McClellan, won the 1600m State title with a time of 5:08.66. McClellan finished with a time of 5:19.50. Her time in capturing the 6A title a week earlier was 5:12.91.