It was only fitting that Seth Eliason of Hopkins would win the final race of his high school track career in the State Class AA Meet Saturday, June 10, at Hamline University.
He had already run for state-champion cross country and track teams with the Royals. And he had finished third in the State Cross Country Meet last fall. Previous track credits included two state relay championships, but the one prize that had eluded Eliason was an individual state track title.
In Saturday’s 1,600-meter final, Eliason had to earn it. Even though Wayzata junior Khalid Hussein lost his right shoe early in the race, he was still step-for-step with Eliason for most of the race. In the end, Eliason won by a lean. His time was 4:17.08 and Hussein’s time was 4:17.17. The victory margin was less than a step.
“Seth is the best finisher in Minnesota – everyone knows that,” Hussein said after the race.
“I felt Khalid right next to me,” said Eliason. “I thought my kick would come into play the last 150 yards … that’s my specialty.”
Hussein found an extra gear somehow, and that made it a very interesting race.
The Wayzata runner forgot about not having his right shoe. All he could see was Eliason, and all he wanted to do was catch him, but it wasn’t to be.
“I’m really happy for Seth,” said Hopkins head coach Nick Lovas. “He has always run for his team, and this was his chance to win an individual state title for the first time. I think there was some relief on his part after the race. He ran like we knew he could.”
A day before he won the 1,600, Eliason finished third in the 3,200, well behind the winner, Alex Miley of Maple Grove.
“I let him get too much separation,” said Eliason.
Miley was in the field for the 1,600, and Eliason was determined not to let that happen again. He took the lead early in the race and held it.
Hopkins had a good day on the 10th and tied Mounds View for fourth place in the state team standings with 42 points. Teams in the 1-2-3 spots were East Ridge with 51, Lakeville South with 44 and Wayzata with 43.
“Our goal every year is to make it onto the podium [top three teams],” said Lovas. “I think that’s the way most of the top teams approach this.”
Hopkins had some top performances in addition to Eliason’s big points.
The Royals’ 4×200-meter relay took second place with sophomores Jaylen Champion and Joe Fahnbulleh, junior King Allah and senior captain Ben Leervig running 1:27.87. Hopkins took seventh in the 4×100 relay with Allah, Champion, Fahnbulleh and Marvin Ratansingh.
In the field events, Boye Mafe placed seventh in the high jump and Allah placed seventh in the high jump.
Fahnbulleh added an eighth place in the 100-meter dash to bring his medal count for the day to three.
Contact John Sherman at [email protected]