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O'Hara second in the 3200 run at Class A Championships

Perham's Brandon O'Hara moves ahead of the chase pack during the 3200m run at the Class A Championships. Jason Groth/FOCUS

Perham junior Brandon O’Hara was edged out by Staples-Motley’s Emmet Anderson at the Class A Cross Country Championships in November. During the Class A Track and Field Championships, O’Hara returned the favor when he finished second in the 3200 meter run at Hamline University.

“It feels pretty good. It’s really a great validation of the winter training that I did, the cold mornings, cold afternoons and all the long runs,” O’Hara said. “It really paid off.”

Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin’s Geno Uhrbom set the pace and finished with a blistering time of nine minutes, 24.07 seconds to win the championship. Uhrbom was 16.80 seconds faster than his seed time. O’Hara finished second with a time of 9:35.80, which was nine seconds faster than his seed time.

“I knew who the favorites were going in. Geno (Uhrbom) is really good and he showed up today,” O’Hara said. “I knew with the heat, some kids were going to take it out pretty hot. My strategy was to sit back as long as I could and wait until it was my time to go, the right time.”

O’Hara said the adrenaline started to take over when he made his move to the front of the chase pack behind Uhrbom.

“I don’t know if I would have waited a little bit longer if it would have turned out differently,” O’Hara said. “I ended up holding off the third place guy from Staples (Emmet Anderson), I don’t know if it could have gone much better or if it could have gone much worse.”

O’Hara said the heat played a role in the day’s event. He said he tried to stay hydrated as much as he could before the race. He said he played the hand that he was dealt and hoped it turned out alright.

“I tried to stay focused. I was trying not to let the heat distract me or the big stage,” O’Hara said. “I let the adrenaline dictate my early pace.”

O’Hara said his goal, as it is with any race, is to go in with the mindset to win. He said it would be crazy to do all the work and not expect to be in contention for winning.

“I put out my best efforts to be up there,” O’Hara said. “I was 11 seconds behind the leader, but I made my best effort towards first place.”

O’Hara took a couple of looks back on the final stretch. He said he was hurting during that last lap, but didn’t want to get caught by Anderson, who was starting to close.

“I really wanted second. I was really pushing it,” O’Hara said. “I know some people would advise to not look back, but it was pushing myself to the next limit. I ended up holding him off. I’d say it worked out. The goal was to not get caught.”

Other Perham Results

The Perham track and field team had a busy first day with four members of its team competing in finals events on day one.

Colton Kostynick competed in the shot put for Perham. He was unable to advance when his best toss was 45 feet, 5.25 inches. Kostynick fouled on his first throw and suffered a leg injury during the first round of competition.

Perham’s Liz Birkeland came in 12th overall in the 3200m run. The event featured the Ping sisters of Winona Cotter and they ran out in front for most of the event. Birkeland finished the race with a time of 11 minutes, 56.40 seconds. Lauren Ping came in first at 10:39.34, while Grace Ping was second at 10:50.19.

Liz Birkeland

Perham senior Mesa Schultz competed in the long jump competition. She finished her high school career in that event with a 19th place finish. She finished with a jump of 15 feet.

It was a tough break for the Perham 800m relay team of Willow Thiel, Lizzy LaFond, Ashley Hokanson and Schultz in the preliminaries. The team originally qualified for the finals, however, was ruled to have stepped on the line too many times and eventually was disqualified from the event.

The 400m relay team of Shalie Lipp, LaFond, Thiel and Schultz finished with a new season record when they finished in 10th place. They crossed the finish line with a time of 51 seconds, however, just missed qualifying for the finals.

Isaac Scheidecker finished the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.93, which put him in 12th place overall in the preliminaries. He did not advance to the finals.

Perham’s Jakob McCleary use a late surge to advance in the 800m run. The ninth-grader used a late lunge at the finish line to qualify with a time of 1:58.56. McCleary will be one of 10 runners going for the Class A Championships in the 800m run.

Jakob McCleary

The Class A Championships continue on June 8 at Hamline University, beginning at 3:30 p.m.


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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