Linder already keeping fast company
CDH sprinter is state 400-meter champion
A Twin Cities-area high school without a track had a state track and field champion this spring.
Cretin-Derham Hall, for all its success in other sports, hasn’t had an on-campus outdoor track for decades. That didn’t prevent sophomore Megan Linder, an Eagan resident, from walking away from the state Class AA meet earlier this month with three medals, including one for first place in the 400-meter dash.
She also had top-five finishes in the 100 and 200 and was responsible for all of Cretin-Derham Hall’s 25 team points, which put the Raiders 10th in the Class AA standings.
But where does she practice?
“We’re at Macalester College, which is a mile or mile and a half away from school,” Linder said. “I think it’s a really nice facility and it’s not hard to get to – unless you don’t have a car.”
Linder won the Class AA 400 final in 56.53 seconds, a personal record and more than two seconds faster than her eighth-place time at the 2011 state meet.
She would have to drop another couple of seconds over the next two years to threaten the all-time state meet record of 54.36, set by Vanessa Clarida of Bloomington Kennedy in 2001. Linder said that thought has already crossed her mind.
“I think that’s a goal for my senior year,” she said. “(The state record) is a really fast time, but my coach says it’s a possibility. If I stay healthy, train hard and peak at the right time, I think I have a chance.”
When she qualified for state a year ago, Linder said she was caught off-guard by the surroundings and the pressure of the state meet. This year, she said she was far more comfortable and better prepared. She was the No. 2 seed in the 400 going into state and had the fastest time in preliminaries. Linder won the state final by about half a second ahead of Irondale senior Kianna Carter.
Linder, who attended Dakota Hills Middle School before enrolling at Cretin-Derham Hall in ninth grade, said she ramped up her training after the 2011 season. She did additional weight training – some of it under the direction of her father, Michael – and it paid immediate benefits. She set personal records in all three of her events at the state meet.
She finished fifth in the 100, an event where the all-time state meet record was broken in the preliminaries and finals by different sprinters. Hopkins junior Taylor Anderson won the event in 11.71 seconds.
Linder was third in the 200 in 25.35, behind Alexandria eighth-grader Wensia Johnson (24.65) and Anderson (24.75). She was the only girl to qualify for the Class AA meet in all three sprints.
“The 400 was the race I had the best chance to win,” she said. “I knew there were some fast girls in the 100 and 200, and I was shooting for top five in those races.”
Linder, an Academic All-State athlete with a 4.2 grade-point average, used to play basketball but now will focus her athletic energy on track and field. She has done the long jump in the past and could return to that event. If the Raiders develop more sprinters, they might put Linder on a relay or two.
And, “I hope to run for a Division I college,” she said.
This weekend, it’s back to the track for Linder, who is scheduled to compete in an AAU regional qualifier at Brooklyn Center High School.