Warrenton track coach Mike Spoede says the intense heat was enough to make him perspire on Saturday. He didn’t need any help from his athletes.
But junior Melanie Raterman caused him to sweat a little more rapidly during the Class 3 Sectional meet at MICDS. The Warriors’ top thrower stood outside of the qualifying four until her final heave in the discus event.
Raterman relied on her last toss to secure her fate, recording a distance of 107 feet to advance to the MSHSAA Championships for the first time in her career.
“After I walked out of the ring and saw the mark, I automatically got tears in my eyes, because I knew I was going to make it,” recalled Raterman.
She wasn’t certain where she stood in the standings entering the final round. She just knew her next throw was probably the most important one of her life.
“I knew I had to step it up,” acknowledged Raterman. “I didn’t know what place I was in, so I was trying to listen to what everyone’s best throws had been.”
Prior to that, her farthest toss of the day had been 100 feet, 8 inches.
“I felt good when I got here,” said Raterman. “But when I saw people start warming up and then I saw my warmup throws, the nerves started getting to me.”
Warrenton qualified for state in three of the four events in which it competed.
Raterman wasn’t the only one feeling the pressure on Saturday. The girls 3,200 relay team, including senior Emily Mauch, juniors Hannah Keene and Melora Broker and freshman Madeline Carlson, found itself in danger of missing out on a fifth straight trip to state.
Ultimately, a strong finish that included personal bests by all four runners was good enough to send the Warriors back to state. They shaved 10 seconds off their season-best time, running a 9:54 to claim fourth place.
“It’s really exciting, because all we talked about this morning was how we could not let the streak end,” said Mauch. “It was just this amazing rush that we did it again.”
Mauch recorded a personal best in the opening 800 meters but still found herself in the back half of the pack.
Carlson kept the Warriors in position, before the next 1600 meters resulted in what Broker calls “a miracle.”
“The excitement kind of started with Melora’s leg,” recalled Spoede. “She got us within striking distance.”
When she took the baton with four laps to go, the Warriors were sitting in seventh place.
“Since we’ve been going to state for so long, I don’t know what it’d be like not to,” said Broker. “And I didn’t want to find out either.”
Broker caught one competitor, before Keene overtook three more in the final two laps.
“I knew I just had to start catching girls,” said Keene. “Usually in running you hit a wall, but I didn’t. The adrenaline just took over.”
Keene battled Sarah Cao of John Burroughs during the final 200 meters, missing out on the third-place spot by a narrow margin.
“I told myself ‘we have to do this. We can’t let up now,’” said Keene.
“It was a lot of pressure on us, but I think Hannah and I stayed pretty positive,” said Broker.
Spoede says the race can sometimes be deceitful in the early going, because teams don’t always place their fastest runners in the anchor position.
“Some of the other teams had front loaded their relays,” said Spoede.
He just knew the Warriors would probably need a new personal best to advance.
“I felt like our time from districts wouldn’t be good enough to qualify for state,” said Broker. “Every one of the girls splits got quicker, so it was a great total team effort.”
Aside from helping the relay team qualify, Mauch also advanced to state in the two-mile run. She placed third after clocking a 12-minute finish.
Immediately following her race, Mauch dashed back to Warrenton for graduation, where she traded her track uniform for a cap and gown and prepared to deliver her Valedictorian speech. It was the culmination of a successful day for the senior.
Broker also represented the Warriors individually, competing in the 200-meter. She finished eighth, failing to advance. Broker acknowledges she didn’t carry high expectations into the race, aware that the opposing district would present a field of extremely fast runners.
“I never thought I would make it to sectionals in the 200,” said Broker. “I knew going in I didn’t have much of a chance, but I still tried my hardest.”