Three Watertown-Mayer athletes are heading to the state meet after qualifying at the Section 5A Meet May 31. Ailsa Gilbert, Tyarra English-Paulson and Monika Czinano have once again qualified for the state track and field meet, and will be competing at Hamline University June 9-10. Even though the trio are set to compete in separate events, there is no shortage of camaraderie or team spirit.
“It’s a team feeling even though this is more of an individual sport,” Czinano said. “We’re the Royals and there are three of us going to state so we better do the best we can.”
At the section meet, Gilbert qualified by winning both the 100 meter hurdles (15.39 seconds) and triple jump (36 feet, 7 inches). English-Paulson qualified with wins in both the 200 (25.98) and the 300 hurdles (45.45). Czinano also picked up a win, throwing 114-11 in the discus.
English-Paulson is looking to go out on top in her last competition for the Royals, hoping for a great finish to her senior year.
“I want to get state champion, but if not that’s fine,” she said. “A [personal record] with 44 seconds would be great – to beat my mom’s school record.”
English-Paulson already beat one of her mom’s records earlier this year, setting the Wright County Conference Meet Record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 45.44 (previous record set by Tonya Paulson in 1993).
“It’s pretty awesome because since I was 8 years old, I’ve always told her, “I’m going to beat your record, I’m better than you.’ So that was fun, getting the all-county record, erasing her name was kind of funny too. But overall it would be nice to say, ‘My [personal record] is better than your [personal record].’”
For English-Paulson, it’s all about friendly rivalries, as she is friends with most of those she races.
“I love it because we get to push each other, and after we’re done racing, if we’re neck-and-neck we know we both [set personal records] and we’re excited about it,” she said. “That’s my favorite part, finishing the race and looking at each other like we both just [set personal records]. That’s a good feeling.”
The friendly rivalry also extends to her teammate Gilbert, and English-Paulson credit’s some of her success to her as the duo often compete in the same events.
“We have a little rivalry, but it’s also fun because it pushes her more and pushes me more when I want to get her and she doesn’t want me to get her. So I think it’s definitely helped our times a lot this season because I’ve [set a personal record by] 2 seconds in that race because I’m trying to get her.”
And even though English-Paulson and Gilbert compete on the track while Czinano throws in the field, the impact of the duo has not been lost on Czinano.
“They’re such pros at it – Tyarra is going to college for this and Ailsa is amazing – so they are definitely able to help you out,” she said.
Czinano qualified for state her freshman year, but missed out last year as a sophomore. Now a junior, Czinano says the year off helped take the pressure away and let her grow.
“My sophomore year it was kind of like, you went to state as a freshman, you have to go to state as a sophomore,” she said. “I feel like not going [sophomore year] made it easier this year. There were no expectations and I could kind of just do whatever. It definitely feels good [returning to state] because this is the same group of girls I went with my freshman year, so getting to go with them is really fun.”
Having one year of state experience under her belt should prove helpful to Czinano, as she knows what lies ahead.
“State when I was a freshman was so overwhelming,” she said. “It felt like I couldn’t event throw, like I didn’t know what I was doing anymore. Having gone then, especially because it’s at the same place – knowing the ring, knowing everything – it will make it a lot easier to go in there and just be more confident, especially because I’m older now.”
With the pressure off, Czinano is just looking to perform her best on the state’s biggest stage.
“I normally go into it goal-less and it makes it easier to just go for it,” she said. “As long as I throw well – as well as me and my coach know that I can – I’ll be OK with it either way.”
In total, 12 Royals competed at the section meet.
English-Paulson took third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.02 and Lauren Osborn placed sixth in the 400 (1:02.52) to earn spots on the podium.
McKail Hertzog competed in both hurdle events, taking third in the 100 (15.79) and 15th in the 300 (47.77). Hertzog also competed in the long jump, taking 15th place with a jump of 18-5 ¼.
Derrick Bakke ran in both the 200 and 400, taking 14th and 15th (24.59 and 56.94).
McKenna McCleary placed 14th in the 100 (13.70), Czinano was 14th in the shot put (31-1 ½) and Brevin Williams was 14th in the triple jump (36-4 ½).
The boys 4×100 relay team placed ninth with a time of 48.44.