Borowicz, Kressin, Kiel rise to occasion with top finishes at state meet
ST. MICHAEL — Rarely one for too many words, Emma Borowicz let her silence do the talking.
When faced with the question of if she was satisfied with the ending of her high school track and field career, Borowicz paused for four seconds, appearing to soak in the moment and state the obvious all at once.
"It's the best way I could have finished," she finally answered.
The 300-meter hurdles has been Borowicz's race ever since she started running it three years ago, and on Friday afternoon, she ran the race of her life. The Crookston senior shattered her goal time while also rocketing up the podium, finishing in 45.16 seconds to place second at the Class A State Meet.
"My entire goal was just to break 46, which is what I've been stuck at all year," Borowicz said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more."
While Borowicz was competing in her third state meet — she finished eighth in the 300 hurdles in 2019 and competed on the 4x800-meter relay team in 2017 — the Pirates' other representative at state impressed in her debut. Breanna Kressin, a junior, placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, her time of 15.26 seconds coming just two-hundredths of a second short of Kayla Wahlin's school record set in 2003.
Borowicz and Kressin both beat two runners who came in with faster seed times than them while recording massive personal bests — a half-second for Kressin and nearly a full second in Borowicz's case. Crookston girls' coach Amy Boll thought much of it came down to the heightened competition of the state meet.
"The girls, they're competitors," Boll said. "They're not fearful, they are pushing. It's like they can stick into another gear and move forward. They're amazing athletes."
That was especially true in Kressin's case, as she had yet to lose in the 100 hurdles this season. While she said she was nervous at first, she felt more calm once she stepped onto the track, and was able to let the competition push her along.
"It was a lot different having people right next to me," Kressin said. "... In between each hurdle, I knew I had to push on every single step. My coach told me I had to beat the person to the right of me, so I had to make sure I did that."
Unlike Kressin, Borowicz wasn't a stranger to stiff competition heading in, as she spent most of the regular season going head-to-head with Thief River Falls' Brooklyn Brouse. The two seniors finished 1-2 in most meets, including the Section 8A Championship on June 8, except it was Brouse who always came out on top.
But Friday was a different story as Borowicz got out slightly ahead of Brouse and stayed there the entire race, beating her by .05 seconds. Afterwards, Borowicz had nothing but praise for her competitor.
"She's just such a good person to run against," Borowicz said. "Not only is she fast, but she's also very kind and she's always encouraging. When crossing the line, both of us are always just really happy for each other."
Boll also credited Harley Stahlecker, Crookston's 85-year-old volunteer hurdles coach, who worked extensively with both Borowicz and Kressin throughout the season. While Stahlecker doesn't go down to state anymore, his six decades of coaching experience were omnipresent in Borowicz and Kressin's performances.
In the practices leading up to the state meet, Stahlecker would give his hurdlers a number — 1800 meters, say — which they would have to compete whichever way they wanted. An 800, two 400s and a 200, for example. Just running, without any hurdles to jump over, was of particular benefit to Borowicz.
"A big thing with the 300 hurdles for me is more of just the running than any going over the hurdles," Borowicz said. "It was just building up the strength, which I built up through all the meters I ran."
Borowicz will run track at Minnesota State next season, where she'll compete in the 400-meter hurdles and potentially the pole vault (in which she finished 16th on Friday) and other sprint events. Kressin will be back for her senior season, in which she'll have some lofty goals to replicate thanks to Friday.
"How can you not be excited?" Boll asked rhetorically. "We've had a great season, we had two amazing girls down here. ... They wear our gold jersey and they represent Crookston really well. I'm so proud of them."
In 1995, Crookston's Chris Chandler won the pole vault while Kevin Blackburn finished second in the 400-meter dash. Not since then had a Pirate boy finished in the top three of an individual event at the state meet.
Enter Noah Kiel.
Kiel capped off a dominant season by finishing on the podium in two events — the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. The senior ran a personal-best time of 11.23 seconds in the 100 to finish eighth but had even more success in the 200, running another personal best of 22.46 seconds to take third.
"Before even coming into it I looked at the times, and everybody's fast here," Kiel said. "You know that they're going to be pushing just as hard as everyone else. It just made me push a little harder."
Crookston boys' coach Wayne Folkers thought Kiel had a chance to get on the stand twice, even if he or Kiel didn't necessarily expect it. The 100 was the big question, but when Kiel placed eighth, two spots ahead of his seed time, it set the tone for what came next.
"I expected him to be about fourth or fifth and he pulled off third," Folkers said. "He did more than what I expected. ... In the 200, he has a little more time to get up to speed. He really likes to chase people, and he was in a great chase lane, three out of nine. He's competitive, he doesn't like to lose, and a little bit longer distance helps him."
While Kiel made history by himself, he also competed as the anchor leg in Crookston's 4x100-meter relay team, which won a come-from-behind section title to qualify for state.
Ethan Boll, Easton Tangquist, Caden Boike and Kiel finished 12th, running a time of 45.41 seconds, but the Pirates' place wasn't as much the story as the fact that they even made it to St. Michael at all.
When the season began, Folkers loaded up the 4x200-meter relay, anticipating that to be the Pirates' top group. After a rotating cast of athletes and a change of events, Crookston settled on Boike, a freshman, and Boll, who played baseball this spring and only exclusively focused on track once the season was over.
"We finally got the right combination," Folkers said.
Folkers has long tried to structure his teams around relays, for the simple reason that relays mean more athletes that get to make the trip to state. Between a foursome in the 4x100 and the first top-three individual finish of his coaching career, Folkers came away from Friday feeling that goals were accomplished.
"If I just look at the overall season, we did what we wanted to," he said.
A number of other area athletes competed in St. Michael on Friday.
West Marshall senior Zach McGlynn had one of the busiest days of any athlete in the competition. After a fifth-place finish in the high jump and a 12th place finish in the 110-meter hurdles, McGlynn placed third in a lengthy pole vault competition with a vault of 13 feet, six inches. His teammate, Gavin Gullikson, also competed in the pole vault and finished fourth. On the girls' side, Emily Pederson was 15th in the 100-meter hurdles.
Fertile-Beltrami came close to a state title in the 4x400-meter relay, with the team of Kim Hitchen, Grace Proulx, Emma Tollefson and Marin Roragen finishing second in 4:03.62. Tollefson, Kim Hitchen, Katrina Hitchen and Roragen placed eighth in the 4x200, and individually, Roragen took 14th in the 400.
East Grand Forks' Tyson Mahar took sixth in the 3200-meter run, which took place on Thursday. On Friday, he placed ninth in the 1600-meter run. On the girls' side, the Green Wave's 4x800-meter relay team was eighth, and Lydia Floden placed 15th in the 3200.
Climax-Fisher/Sacred Heart's Jory Vasek took sixth in the 400-meter dash, and Red Lake County's Gerald Melin was 10th in the high jump.
- Breanna Kressin: 4th in 100-meter hurdles (15.26)
- Emma Borowicz: 2nd in 300-meter hurdles (45.16), 16th in pole vault (8'0")
- Noah Kiel: 3rd in 200-meter dash (22.46), 8th in 100-meter dash (11.23)
- Ethan Boll, Easton Tangquist, Caden Boike, Noah Kiel: 12th in 4x100-meter relay (45.41)
- Climax-Fisher/Sacred Heart: Jory Vasek 6th in 400-meter dash (50.54)
- East Grand Forks: Tyson Mahar 6th in 3200-meter run (9:43.15), 9th in 1600-meter run (4:28.28), Lydia Floden, Katherine Allard, Quincie Floden, Kassidy Allard 8th in 4x800-meter relay (9:56.27), Lydia Floden 15th in 3200-meter run (12:21.66)
- Fertile-Beltrami: Kim Hitchen, Grace Proulx, Emma Tollefson, Marin Roragen 2nd in 4x400-meter relay (4:03.62), Emma Tollefson, Katrina Hitchen, Kim Hitchen, Marin Roragen 8th in 4x200-meter relay (1:48.10), Marin Roragen 14th in 400-meter dash (1:01.96)
- Red Lake County: Gerald Melin 10th in high jump (6'0")
- West Marshall: Zach McGlynn 3rd in pole vault (13'6"), 5th in high jump (6'3"), 12th in 110-meter hurdles (16.35), Gavin Gullikson 4th in pole vault (13'6"), Emily Pederson 15th in 100-meter hurdles (17.19)
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