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Track off and running

Wildcat sophomore Payton Flood stretches for the finish line to take second in the 400 meter dash with a time of 53.91 seconds Saturday, March 24, at the All-American Track and Field Invitational at UW-River Falls' Knowles Fieldhouse. Two-time defending Division 2 state champion Kenneth Bednarek of Rice Lake took first with a new meet record time of 49.33. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 5
River Falls' junior Madison Grundstrom, right, passes the baton to freshman Rachel Randleman for the final leg of the girls 4x200 meter relay at the All-American Track and Field Invitational Saturday, March 24, at UW-River Falls' Knowles Fieldhouse. Grundstrom, Randleman, Sofia Naranjo-Mata and Sarah Langlois combined for a second place time of 1 minute, 50.02 seconds. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 5
Wildcat sophomore Peter Noreen brushes the bar on his second attempt at 5-feet, 6-inches during the high jump competition at the All-American Track and Field Invitational Saturday, March 24, at UW-River Falls' Knowles Fieldhouse. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 5
River Falls' sophomore Stefan Klechefski, center, leans into the first turn on the opening leg of the boys' 4x200 meter relay at the All-American Track and Field Invitational Saturday, March 24, at UW-River Falls' Knowles Fieldhouse. Klechefski, Jared Creen, Nate Rixmannn and Seth Kohel teamed up for a second place time of 1 minute, 36.68 seconds, three-tenths of a second behind first place East Ridge. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 5
River Falls senior Ben Rayne, left, and sophomore Joseph Madsen, round a turn during the second heat of the boys 1600 meter run at the All-American Track and Field Invitational at UW-River Falls' Knowles Fieldhouse. Madsen finished sixth with a time of 4 minutes, 56.56 seconds while Rayne was ninth in 5:01.47. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 5 / 5

If this is how the River Falls track and field teams perform with many of their athletes away on spring break, imagine how good they'll be when they get everybody back.

The Wildcat boys, highlighted by a record-setting effort by junior Jared Creen in the long jump, captured first place at the season opening All-American Indoor Invitational Saturday, March 24, while the girls finished fourth in the 12-team field events.

Creen's leap of 22-feet, 2-inches not only shattered the school's 14 year-old indoor long jump record of 21-0.5 set by Jesse Elling in 2004, it also broke the outdoor mark of 21-11.25 set in 2016 by current North Dakota State University sophomore Ben Klimpke.

Sophomore Brayden Richison added an individual title in the 800 meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 5.39 seconds as the Wildcats finished with 82 points, 5.5 points ahead of second place Anoka. East Ridge was third with 75.

Forest Lake took the girls team title with 116 and Hudson was second with 111 while Rochester Century took third with 69 and River Falls was fourth with 52.5.

Creen also teamed up with sophomore Stefan Klechefski, junior Nate Rixmann and sophomore Seth Kohel for a second place time of 1:36.68 in the 4x200 meter relay and placed fourth in the 55 meter dash in 6.84 seconds to have a hand in collecting 23 of the Wildcats' 82 team points.

The Cats also got a boost by claiming two of the top four spots in the 3200 meter run. Senior Tyler Cernohous was third with a time of 10:31.78 and sophomore Mason Shea took fourth in 10:34.35 to give River Falls 11 points in the race.

Sophomore Payton Flood's time of 53.91 seconds in the 400 meter dash was better than every other runner in the race except two-time state champion Kenneth Bednarek of Rice Lake, who set a new meet record with a time of 49.33.

Klechefski contributed a third place time of 23.94 seconds in the 200 meter dash and sophomore Nicholas Hieb, junior Mason Prigge, junior Karl Linton and junior Jared Syverson combined for a third place time of 3:58.46 in the 1600 meter sprint medley relay while sophomore Joseph Madsen was sixth in the 1600 meter run in 4:56.56. Linton also took sixth in the 800 meter run in 2:13.0.

In other field events, senior Evan Rank was third in the triple jump with a distance of 39-8.25 and senior Michael Rebozo was third in the pole vault with a height of 12-feet.

In the girls competition, junior Sarah Langlois and sophomore Sarah Schneckenberger placed second and third in the 800 meter run with times of 2:32.34 and 2:33.98, respectively.

The girls 4x200 meter relay team of junior Sofia Naranjo-Mata, Langlois, junior Madison Grundstrom and freshman Rachel Randleman combined for a second place time of 1:50.02, and the 4x400 relay team of Langlois, Randleman, Schneckenberger and sophomore Meggie Weideman was second in 4:19.41, while Naranjo-Mata was third in the 55 meter dash in 7.5 seconds. Freshman Ambrea Kjos contributed a fifth place time of 1:06.08 in the 400 meter dash.

Wildcat runners also picked up points with a trio of seventh place finishes with junior Calla Dexheimer posting a time of 12:41.29 in the 3200 meter run, Grundstrom earning a time of 10.01 seconds in the 55 meter hurdles, and junior Rayna Dixen, freshman Jordan Szymanski, junior Elsa Putzier and Weideman combining for a time of 4:51.29 in the 1600 sprint medley.

Naranjo-Mata led the field performers with a sixth place leap of 15-3.75 in the long jump and Schneckenberger tied for seventh in the high jump with a height of 4-8 while senior Danielle Miller was seventh in the triple jump with a distance of 31-6.5.

The Wildcats competed at the Big Rivers Conference Indoor Relays Tuesday, March 27, and will compete at the Minnesota State University-Mankato Varsity Showcase Saturday, March 31.

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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