Sometimes the most obvious advice will do. Owatonna has two hurdlers at the state track and field meet Saturday, June 19 at St. Michael-Albertville. Huskies assistant coach Doug Maine, who was just announced as the Section 1AA Assistant Coach of the Year, says one of his last instructions is always, "Don't hit hurdles. That helps."

OHS senior (though, technically now a graduate) Jack Titchenall has the fourth fastest seed time in the 110 hurdles at 14.92 seconds. Maine says, "He's done well to perfect his form and he finishes races." He adds, "If Jack gets out and gets through that first hurdle in good shape, he's going to do well." Prelims start at 10:30 am Saturday.

Junior Ryan Gregory has the third fastest seed time (39.79) in the 300 hurdles. "Ryan's just a good athlete. He's fast. His hurdle form's not quite as good as Jack's, been it doesn't have to be in the 300. But he's got real good endurance....I think he'll do pretty well." The event starts at 11:49 am Saturday.

Maine says hurdlers can't be afraid to fall and need to be aggressive, "You look for kids who are fearless and are good athletes." Regarding the assistant coach of the year honor, Maine is thrilled, but it has come at a cost, "That's quite an honor. This is the second time received that in the last six years...Each time I've won it one of the Johnson boys have ended up in the hospital."

Several years ago Jacob Johnson tripped. Last Saturday Carter Johnson broke his forearm after leaning at the finish line to jump from the ninth seed to third place and lost his balance and fell. Maine has been an assistant with OHS for about 16 or 17 years.

Huskies sophomore Justin Gleason has the top distance in the long jump entering state. It came in dramatic fashion during the section meet, explains OHS head coach Kevin Stelter, "He also runs on our 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relay teams...He had taken his second jump (out of three) in the finals and then had to leave to run to lead off our 4-by-200 relay. And did a real fine job...Then he had to hustle right back to the long jump where he bettered his jump by a little over a foot."

Gleason's qualifying leap of 22-feet, 9.25-inches is a school record, and more than six inches farther than the second best distance. The long jump begins at 10 am Saturday morning.

Steltler says he wants his athletes to feel loose and comfortable during their state events, "Tell them to think about is as just another meet. Obviously we know that it's a state meet, but they don't have to do anything that they haven't done before." Stelter says in previous years some athletes would have had a taste of a state-caliber meet with the Hamline Elite meet, which was not held this season.

Find information on purchasing tickets to attend the state track meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School or who to watch online at the high school league website.

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