Cotter distance runners and Lauren Ping and Grace Ping swept the top two spots in the 1,600 meter run on Thursday at the Section 1A Track and Field Meet on Thursday at Paul Giel Field. The sisters were also first and second in the 3,200 run on Tuesday.

Lauren Ping won both events, finishing the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 0.67 seconds and the 3,200 in 10 minutes, 32 seconds. Grace was second in both events, finishing the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 3.95 seconds and the 3,200 in 10 minutes, 47.36 seconds.

“I’m just really excited to be going to State,” Lauren Ping said. “I’m thankful for another chance and excited to go and do my best.”

Eighth grader Lauren Ping gets the opportunity to defend her gold medal in the 3,200 at last year’s MSHSL Class A State Track and Field Championships and improve on her second-place finish in the 1,600. Grace Ping won the 1,600 last year and was third in the 3,200 behind her sister and Math and Science Academy’s Tierney Wolfgram.

This year’s state meet is June 7-8 at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Lauren and Grace distanced themselves from the pack early in the 1,600 on Thursday, running side-by-side with Grace slightly ahead until the 1,000 meter mark. At that point, Lauren kicked it into another gear and pulled away.

Lauren said that learning to be tougher as fatigue sets in has allowed her to improve over the course of her eighth-grade season.

“I’m learning how to be tougher,” she said. “When it starts hurting, I know that I can keep going and keep pushing.”

Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Natasha Sortland made up ground on Grace Ping at the end, finishing third with a state-qualifying time of 5:05.0, just 1.05 seconds behind Grace.

Sortland was also third in the 3,200, finishing with a state-qualifying time of 11:05.03 and Lake City’s Jacey Majerus also qualified for State with a time of 11:23.04.

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At last year’s State meet, Lauren Ping won the 3,200 with a time of 1:29.77 as a seventh grader and ran the 1,600 in 4:58.25. And Grace Ping ran the 3,200 in 10:38.96 and the 1,600 in 4:57.26.

The sisters were also first and second at this fall’s MSHSL Class A State Cross Country Championships, with Grace winning and Lauren finishing second.

SC’s Root wins long jump

St. Charles’ Lindsey Root has broken and re-broken her school record in the long jump and is on her way to the state meet.

Root won the long jump with a jump of 17 feet, 9.5 inches, beating the next best jump by 8 inches.

“Going to State has been my goal for a long time,” Root said. “It’s been my goal for a long time and I just missed it last year. On my best jump, I was able to pop up and get higher than I have normally which allowed me to propel forward.”

She was one of three girls in the section to beat the state qualifying mark of 16 feet, 11 inches. Both Pine Island’s Jaci Newman and GMLOK’s Lauren Bucholtz jumped 17 feet, 1.5 inches to make their way to State.

Root first took the school record at the Three Rivers Conference Meet, jumping 17 feet, 5 inches — breaking a record of 17 feet, 2.5 inches set by her teammate Abbie Disbrow earlier that day. She then beat that record at the sub-section meet, jumping 17 feet, 5.25 inches before setting her new standard at the section meet.

“My teammate and I were able to break that record on the same day and I love having her by my side,” Root said. “We always had each other’s backs. It’s really exciting and a great experience.”

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