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Malone reaches podium in first state trip

Wadena-Deer Creek's Mikaela Malone drives forward during the Class A Track and Field Championships at Hamline University. Malone finished eighth overall and reached the podium in her first state appearance. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal

The goal for Wadena-Deer Creek’s Mikaela Malone was to advance to the finals in the 100 meter dash at the Class A Championships. The ninth grade sprinter took care of that one day one when she qualified with a time of 12.95, which allowed her to advance in the deep field at Hamline University.

She built on that strong performance and reached the podium with a time of 12.96 seconds in the Class A Championship race on June 9 at Hamline University. Minneapolis North’s T’Nia Riley came in first with a time of 11.96, slightly off her Class A record pace that she set the day prior.

After the race, Malone said it feels amazing after just missing the championships a year ago.

“It was a gift from God, honestly,” Malone said. “All of the hard work paid off. I’m thankful for all my teammates and the way they push me every day.”

Malone said she tried to look at it as an ordinary everyday meet to control the nerves. She said having too many nerves will throw you off, but it’s good to have a few.

“It was that and a whole lot more,” Malone said. “I was very nervous running the first day. All the nerves went away today. I just did what I could do and am happy with eighth place in my very first year here.”

One of the keys to her strong finish in the championships was to have a better start. The ninth grader struggled with her start in the preliminaries, but it didn’t affect her in the qualifying race.

“It felt really good today,” Malone said. “(Another key) was to not let the rain bother me, because I knew it was going to happen. It was staying positive, have a good mindset and keep trucking along.”

Malone said just missing the Class A Championships was fuel for her to make it in 2018.

“Honestly, it’s crazy. My second year in and I finally make it,” Malone said “Some people don’t make it until they are juniors or seniors. So, I’m very blessed to make it my freshman year.”

Pantages 12th in the high jump

Wadena-Deer Creek senior Jonathan Pantages finished 12th in the high jump competition during the Class A Championships on June 9 at Hamline University. He was able to clear the bar at five feet, 10 inches and six feet, but was unsuccessful on the jumps at six feet, two inches.

Lake City’s Ethan Heitman and Annandale’s TJ Jok cleared the bar at six feet, six inches with Heitman doing it in one attempt, securing the state championship in that event.

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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