ST. PAUL — Matt Steiger wasn’t playing around on Saturday.
The La Crescent High School senior had to wait before he could seize control of a race at the MSHSL state track and field meet on Friday, but that wasn’t the case when he won the Class A 1,600-meter championship at Hamline University during the second day of the meet.
Steiger crossed the line first at the end of all four of his laps on Saturday and posted a winning time of 4 minutes, 18.67 seconds to follow up the 3,200 victory he had on Friday.
“I took control right away and went out the way I wanted to go out,” said Steiger, who completed the challenge of winning a state cross country race and following it up with wins in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the state track meet. “I kind of came back to (the pack) on the fourth lap, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Southwest Christian senior Jebadiah Merkle made a run at Steiger during the final lap and finished at 4:20.95 after running the final 400 meters in 62 seconds. Steiger’s final lap was 64.3 seconds but he built enough of a lead during the middle two laps to make it hold up.
East Grand Forks sophomore Cole Nowacki ran with Steiger on the first lap — he trailed by a half-second — but Steiger ended up beating him by 15 seconds.
Mounds Park Academy’s Declan Dahlberg followed Merkle across the line in third place (4:23.11), while Nowacki faded and placed 10th.
“I felt like I was putting the pressure on for the two middle laps,” Steiger said. “I felt I controlled it, but I don’t think I had the pop and speed I usually have in this race.
“You still need quite a bit of leg speed in the 1,600, but I still ran a 4:18.”
Steiger also ran the anchor leg for La Crescent’s seventh-place 1,600 relay team that finished in 3:29.28. The Lancers ran a 3:30.39 in Friday’s prelim and junior Jacob Hogan and seniors Josh Weigel, Cole Fechner and Steiger improved on that in their final race together.
Steiger placed fourth in the 1,600 as a sophomore and again as a junior before breaking through and winning in convincing fashion on Saturday. He won the 3,200 by nearly 12 seconds over the second-place Dahlberg.
The Lancers also had a 3,200 relay team consisting of seniors Andrew Jaquette and Fechner, junior Alex Boudreau and sophomore Bryce Duffy qualify for Saturday’s finals and finish 16th with a time of 8:37.23.