By Josh Berhow

Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Linnelle Clark still remembers last year’s national indoor track and field meet at Myers Field House in Mankato.

Not running in it. Helping out, working.

“Last year I sat back and thought, ‘I still have three more years,’ ” said the Minnesota State sophomore. “Then once nationals came around I said, ‘I should be there.’

As Clark watched her teammates compete with some of the best in the nation, she decided it wasn’t a feeling she wanted again.

“Sitting out at nationals, knowing I was supposed to be there, that made me come back this year with a new attitude and made me want to work harder and actually want something and have a prize to go for,” she said.

Clark, a sprinter from Milwaukee, Wis. who redshirted her freshman year, competes in the 60-meter dash for the Mavericks and added the long jump to her events.

“She jumped once last year,” said women’s track and field coach Jen Blue. “She’s been training more for the long jump this year. She’s always done the 60 and the sprints, but she’s really starting to excel at the long jump, so it’s fun to watch that.”

Saturday, Clark competed in both at the MSU Open and Pentathlon, finishing fifth in the long jump (16-feet-8) and second in the 60 (7.85 seconds).

“I think I did fine,” Clark said. “I survived. I know I got better meets to come.”

While going to high school in Milwaukee, Clark competed against teammate Brittany Henderson. Although the two were from different schools and conferences, they still raced against each other a handful of times.

“She was fast, and I was fast,” Clark said. “We were both always going against each other.”

With just one home meet left in the indoor season, Clark is hoping her hard work and improved dedication can take her a step farther — to nationals.

“She’s tough, and she wants it,” Blue said. “She knows what she has to do to get it done and she wants to be at the national meet, and she’s doing all the little things to make sure she gets there.”

“I want to go to nationals, that’s my biggest goal,” Clark said. “I want to be an All-American before I leave this institution.”

Both the MSU men’s and women’s teams competed in the Open Friday and Saturday, with Kaycie Merrihew recording a first-place finish in Friday’s pentathlon with 862 points. Andrea Sellers finished third with 828 points.

On Saturday, Lauren Stelten took first in the pole vault (12-6 1⁄4), and Megan Olson was first in the 60-meter hurdles (9.30).

Senior Kelvin Rodgers won the men’s long jump (23-31⁄2), and Mike Elliot took first in the 400-meter dash (49.96). Nick Ramberg finished first in the 1,000-meter run (2:32.22), and Jeremy Soupir was first in the shot put (52-1 3⁄4). Freshman Matt Masloski won the pole vault (15-11 1⁄4).

No team scores were kept.

Both teams compete Saturday as the Mavericks host the Ted Nelson Classic.

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