Erika Townley closed one of the greatest careers in White Bear Lake track-and-field history Saturday in appropriate fashion — with a gold medal around her neck, along with two bronzes.
The Bears also had second- and third-place finishes in relays and placed sixth in the team standings.
Townley, the pre-meet favorite in both hurdle races, placed third in the 100 but nailed down the elusive gold medal in the 300. She placed second in both last year. Townley also ran a terrific anchor leg in the 4x400 to lift the Bears from seventh to third place.
“I feel happy and thankful,” the said. “Winning at the state has been my goal since I was a young girl. I always knew the 300 was my best chance but I tried hard in the 100, too.”
Winning the 100 was Edina’s Evelyn Adams, whom Townley beat in last year’s state finals and at this year’s Hamline Elite Meet. Also just ahead of Townley was Osseo’s Kelsie Sealock.
“My start in the 100 was not the best. I was happy to make up for it the rest of the race as much as I did,” said Townley, whose time was a personal best.
Not so in the 300.
“Before that race, I said to myself, now is the time, the time to really step it up,” said Townley.
The lanky soccer star posted another lifetime best of 43.08 and pulled away from Alexandria’s Kaya Pashka (43.92) and Adams (44.00).
“I had a faster start than normal,” she said. “With two or three hurdles left I felt people coming up behind me but didn’t see anyone, and I did not let up at all.”
Townley had one last amazing race in her — a 56.11 split in anchoring the 4x400 (the school record in the open 400 is 57.38) — that got her past four runners as she teamed with Lauren Eckerle, Jordan Gast, and Bailey McCullough to post a 3:55.67, finishing behind Rosemount and Wayzata.
‘Erika has been the most decorated girl trackster in WBL history. It was so fitting for Erika to end her career with a state championship,” coach Richard Samuelson noted. “She has been pursuing that championship since she was a freshman.”
That was the final track event for Townley, who medaled nine times at state — first, second and third in the 300; third, second and ninth in the 100; and fifth, fourth and third in the 4x400.
“This was my last track meet,” said the midfielder who’ll play soccer at Drake University in Iowa.
The Bears’ 4x800 quartet of Eckerle, Emily Brockberg, McCullough, and Verkerke was runner-up with 9:22.87, behind Minnetonka (9:20.54). The broke the school record (set last year) by seven seconds. Verkerke ran a furious anchor leg in 2:17 to get them up to second.
The Bears also made finals in the 4x200 and placed ninth in 1:44.20 with Madelyn Sanda, Caitlin Wallace, Danielle Madden, and Victoria Abedisi. That group’s 1:42.i7 in the prelims set the school record.
Abedisi did not reach finals in the long just jump, going just 16-4 on the heels of a 17-11 3/4 at sectionals. Verkerke was an 800 qualifier but got DQ’d for cutting into a lane early.
The Bears tallied 39 points for sixth place. Rosemount won with 71.75.