Coach David Jewison, Claire Nichols, Grace and Lauren Ping, and Cotter Schools President Sr. Judith Schaefer pose with their award from last weekend’s state track and field meet. Cotter placed second in the state.

Big finishes for area track and field stars


Cotter nabs second-place finish, first-place medals


It was an award-winning year for track and field in Southeast Minnesota. Winona Senior High, Cotter and Rushford-Peterson each sent students to the state meet last weekend, and each school placed students on the podium.

Cotter took second place in the women’s Class A meet with 42 points, four below the first-place Blake School and almost four above third-place Pequot Lakes. Accounting for much of that overall score in the 1,600 were first-place Grace Ping with a time of 4:57.86 and sister Lauren Ping right behind in the two-spot with 4:58.25. The Pings carved out space for Cotter at the top of the 3,200-meter as well, with Grace in third with 10:38.96 and Lauren clinching first place with 10:29.77. Claire Nichols added points with her 10th place in the long-jump with a 16-03.75 leap. And Garet Grant took ninth place in the 3,200-meter with a time of 9:56.90.

For such a team of competitors, coach David Jewison was very proud of the sportsmanship of his students. “Lauren, Grace and Tierney [Wolfgram, of Math & Science Academy] were out in front of the pack all year, and what do they do? They hug each other and and appreciate the fact that they ran well. And they start clapping for all the other kids that are coming in. I mean it’s really cool to watch them.” Jewison also had high praise for the coaching of Ryan Ping, father of Grace and Lauren. “He doesn’t get much credit, but he works really hard with all our kids,” said Jewison. “He’s really phenomenal. Our kids are coached better than anyone in the state.”

Rushford-Peterson’s two shot-putters, Nicole Blagsvedt and Cullan Olsen, travelled to Hamline to compete. Olsen, who had previously recorded a best throw of 48.10, astonished the competition with a tremendous 53.1. Coach Gary Wade was thrilled by the success that put Olsen on the sixth-place riser. “A personal best,” said Wade. “A personal record. It was quite busy and pretty crowded around that track. The two students who went first and second were the best Class A ever in the state, so there was quite a crowd watching. It was nice for Cullan to get his personal best. One of those guys was Mr. Track and Field, which shows how good those guys are. And he stepped up to compete. It was a great way to end his career, as well as being able to stand up and get a medal.” Blagsveld placed 13th overall in the state, beating the student who had defeated her at sections. “It’s definitely a great accomplishment,” said Wade.

Winhawk senior Robert Warren ran for his school over the weekend as well. Warren, who’s speed on the gridiron is also justly lauded, barely missed his own best time of 10.78 in the 100-meter and brought home third place with 11.10, and fourth in the 200 with a 21.94. This year Warren was making up for a rough 2017: “Last year he had to fight through injuries. One reason he had such success this season is because of his narrow miss last season. He’s got that taste in his mouth now, and that motivated him to work hard and have that success this year,” said coach Jed Reisetter. Warren has yet to announce any future plans, but Reisetter doesn’t think he’s made a final decision yet. “A lot of people are interested in having him run for them, but as of this weekend he’s still trying to figure that out.” After two days of travel to St. Paul and back to attend his graduation, Warren has plenty on his mind.


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