Dynamic distance duo
Sam Larson and Katie Conlon have a lot in common. For starters, they are both very young. But don't let their youth fool you. Despite being just teenagers, they are two of the best in the state at what they do run. While Larson is just a sophomor...
Sam Larson and Katie Conlon have a lot in common.
For starters, they are both very young. But don't let their youth fool you.
Despite being just teenagers, they are two of the best in the state at what they do
While Larson is just a sophomore and Conlon a freshman, both carry heavy expectations to the state Class A track and field meet this weekend in Grand Forks.
Besides being youthful, Jamestown's dynamic running duo are also polite, a little shy and would much rather talk about their teammates instead of themselves. Getting them to toot their own horn is as difficult as trying to catch them from behind.
No one knows either better than Frank Conlon. He coaches Sam and lives with Katie
he's her dad. He says their success is not an accident.
"They both work very hard," he said. "Katie watched her sister (Maggie) for a long time. She's always had a desire to do well."
"In my 29 years of coaching, Sam has had the most success of any boy his age," Conlon said. "He's awfully talented and a very intelligent young man."
Similar in personality, the two also enjoy many of the same skills on the track.
Larson will run in the 800, 1600, 3200 and 3200 meter relay this weekend.
Conlon will run in the mile and 4x800 relay on Friday and the 800 and 1600 meter relay on Saturday.
Both are coming off first-place finishes in the 1600 last Saturday at the East Region meet in Fargo. Larson also won the 3200 for good measure.
What will happen this weekend? Don't look for bold predictions here.
"I'll just go with the flow," said Larson, who placed second at state in the mile last year. "I haven't seen many of the runners from the West so I don't really know what to expect.
"I'll do my best and whatever happens I'll be satisfied with it."
Conlon, also the runner-up in the 1600 last spring, is taking the same approach.
"There's a lot of talented girls in the state and a lot of talented girls on our team," she said. "I hope to run well. If I do, I'll be happy."
Running well has not been a problem for either this year. In fact, it's become the norm.
Whether it's during the cross country season in the fall or on the track in the spring, both have established themselves as runners to recognize.
"People know who they are," Conlon said. "That kind of raises the bar a little bit when people know you're one of the kids that are going to be in contention."
Despite the added notoriety, Larson and Conlon try to keep their focus on the track.
"When I start thinking about those things, it only makes me nervous," Conlon said. "We have a bunch of great girls and we push each other in practice every day. We try to make each other better as a team."
Larson expects to have as much fun running with teammates Rob McMillan, James McMillan and Lief Rasmussen in the 3200 relay as he will in one of his other events.
"That's going to be a lot of fun. We have a great team and a really good chance to do well," he said.
The same can be said for the girls' distance relay team, who like the boys have the best time to date heading into the state meet. Conlon will run with Madey Hornung, Lori Benke and and Beth McMillan.
While Larson and Conlon will be the busiest Blue Jays this weekend, they are not the only ones that will be in action.
Rob McMillan is qualified in the 800 and 1600.
Throwers Ben Reister and Tyler Wibstad have shown steady progress throughout the year.
Wibstad, a junior, will compete in the shot put and discus. Reister will finish his prep career in the discus where he has the ninth-best throw (152 feet, 10 inches) in the state.
The girls' team will be equally busy.
Conlon leads a strong foursome in the 800 where Hornung, Benke and McMillan all have top 14 times.
The same group is qualified in the mile with Lindsay Kautzman replacing McMillan.
Coming off a first-place finish at the East Region meet, Kristi Falk looks to continue her momentum in the 3200.
The same is true for throwers Jill Schlenker and Karee Nordby along with pole vaulter Cassie Jensen.
Schlenker placed second in both the discus (121-2) and shot put (36-7). Nordby was third in the javelin (123-9).
Jensen, meanwhile, is coming off a career best 9-3 in the pole vault.
Larson and Conlon hope they are able to finish the season on a high note.
"It's going to be exciting," Conlon said. "Hopefully we'll all be able to relax, have fun and do the best we can."
"It's already been a very successful year," he said. "Whatever happens now is just a bonus."
Sun sports writer David Selvig
can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com