State Track: Monticello's Lumpa Anchors Record Relay

By Rob Gray (Story) and Josh Christensen (Video), Reporters

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The crowd stirred, then roared.

Monticello's Dallas Lumpa responded, amping up an already swift pace.

He knew the record — 7:53.67 for Class 2A in the 3,200-meter relay — was well within reach.

Lumpa not only heard it, but felt it.

And, like the crowd Thursday at Drake Stadium, really, really wanted it.

"I knew going in what the record was," Lumpa said. "I just had to sprint that last bit to get it."

That last bit spanned the final 80 meters or so.

Lumpa crossed the stripe at the 7:53.46 mark — and his relay mates flocked to his fatigued, but bouyant side.

"The only thought in my head was just finish," said Ben Ahlrichs, who ran the third leg. "Finish, because it's just been our goal all of our lives to get that record, to win state. When (Lumpa) was just this close, it was just the most incredible feeling I've had in my life."

Like all of the 2A distance races Thursday, there's nothing close about the team points standings.

Monticello notched two event wins and a second-place day one finish while rolling up a first place-securing 28 points.

Redemption's on the mind of the Panthers, who felt they underachieved with last year's fifth-place finish.

"It sets the bar high," said Michael Melchert, who helped Monticello forge a 1-2 finish in the 3,200 by winning in 9:38.93, with teammate J.J. Frawley second. "That's where we want to be. It sets the tone for 2A."

Melchert showed the way early, kicking off the session by kicking away from every other competitor except Frawley, who ran a 9:40.6.

It's a familiar motif.

Melchert and Frawley run about 50-60 miles each week together.

When they're not running, they're joking.

"Sarcasm," Frawley said of their comedic tastes.

But it's not all laughs.

Monticello's depth is built on customized competitiveness.

Distance runners play "600s all out" all the time, which involves a different person setting a race pace each time, and all the others chasing, flat-out.

"We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses," Ahlrichs said. "We try to help each other with that daily — to push each other through those things. Therefore we work together. We just grow as one."

That approach will lead to the top, if the state meet unfolds as planned.

"Even if we mixed up our order here at state, we still knew we had the depth so we could take that record down," Ahlrichs said.
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