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More medals for Perham on day 2 of Class A Championships

Perham's Chase Belka runs out in front during the 3200m relay race at Hamline University. Jason Groth/FOCUS

The Perham pole vaulting trio of Ashley Hokanson, Sydney Bahls and Shalie Lipp pulled off a rare feat when all three of them competed at the Class A Championships on June 9 at Hamline University.

Hokanson captured the championship, while Bahls came in fourth place and Lipp finished in 10th place. For Bahls, it was a nice end to a stellar career with the Yellowjackets. The senior was happy to reach the podium at the state’s biggest event.

Sydney Bahls clears the bar in the pole vault.

“It feels great to finally get to vault here, but I know I could have done a little bit better,” Bahls said. “I set a personal record at our last meet with 11 feet, but i only got 10 feet, six inches at this meet, but I’m still really, really happy that I finally got to make it down here.”

Bahls was able to clear 10 feet, six inches for fourth place overall. Last year, she competed in 400 meter relay, and said it was always a goal of hers to compete in the pole vault at state. It gives her a strong springboard in to her college career where she will be pole vaulting at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

“It felt pretty good,” Bahls said. “I’ve always wanted to come down here and vault. Last year, We did the 4x100, but I always wanted to vault here, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Lipp finished the competition in 10th place overall. She was able to clear 10 feet. The event took a turn due to the weather. It was scheduled to take place outside, but weather forced the event indoors.

“I thought it played out okay. I’m really excited for Ashley with how she did,” Bahls said. “It would have been nicer to have a personal record here, but I’m glad to be here.”

Speicher takes fourth in the 800

Perham senior Carson Speicher capped off his career in the 800 meter run with a fourth place finish and another trip to the podium during the Class A Championships. Speicher improved on his placing after entering the finals with the sixth best time.

Melrose Area’s Jesse Middendorf captured the state title in the race. He finished in a time of one minute, 56.62 seconds. He closed strong dropping two seconds off of his split in the second lap, helping him take the race from Lac qui Parle Valley’s Keiser Freetly, who finished second with a time of 1:57.48.

Speicher’s second lap was the third fastest in the event. He had a time of 59.162 seconds on his second lap, helping propel him to a third place finish when he crossed the line with a time of 1:59.02.

Yellowjackets medal in a pair of relays

The Perham Yellowjackets had a strong preliminary run and knew they would be on the podium in the 1600m relay to close out the night at the Class A Championships. The Yellowjackets put the pressure on the eventual state champion relay team from Wadena-Deer Creek, but came in sixth place with a time of 3:28.38.

Logan Wallace started things off setting a strong pace for the Yellowjackets. Wallace passed the baton off to Chase Belka, who continued the good run for Perham, he followed it up with an exchange to John LaFond, before Carson Speicher closed out the race.Logan Wallace surges past the competition.

It was a fitting end to a day that started with the Perham 3200m relay reaching the podium with a sixth place finish.

The relay team of Belka, Wallace, Brandon O’Hara and Speicher opened the meet with a medal when they finished with a time of 8:10.62. They dropped more than seven seconds from their section qualifying time. Perham head coach Mike Peterson said it was their goal to get into the fast heat and they capitalized on that. The strong pace was set by the team from Math and Science Academy, who dropped more than 11 seconds to finish first with a time of 8:02.99.

Covington, McCleary finish season in the 1600

Perham junior Caitlin Covington and eighth grader Jakob McCleary ended their season with runs in the 1600 meter run at the Class A Championships.

McCleary cut time from his state qualifying time to finish 11th in a strong field. He finished with a time of 4:35.91, which was more than six seconds faster than his qualifying time. La Crescent’s Matt Steiger came home with the championship in the event when he crossed the line at 4:18.67.

Jakob McCleary pushes towards the finish line in the 1600.

Covington closed out her junior year with a time of 5:33.21 in the 1600m run. She finished 15th overall. The race was won by the Ping sisters with Grace Ping just getting across the line before her sister Lauren. Grace, the older of the two, finished with a time of 4:57.85, while Lauren came in at 4:58.25.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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