Evelyn Wiltrout, a Cambridge-Isanti shot putter allowed into the Class 3A, Section 7 track meet at the figurative last minute, kept up with that approach Friday at Forest Lake. Her final throw was her best of the day — the best of her life — and qualified her for the state championships.
Wiltrout posted a distance of 37 feet, 4.75 inches on her sixth try, putting her safely ahead of third-place Isabella Novak of Andover, whose best put was 35-8.5. Lydia Lakanen of Anoka won with a distance of 39-5.25.
"I'm in shock," Wiltrout said. "I didn't even know I'd get to compete today. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, and I'm at a high right now.
"I knew after my fifth throw [36-3.25] that I had a pretty good chance. Even after that I wasn't going to believe it until after the announcer called it. I wasn't going to get my hopes up."
Wiltrout was among three Cambridge-Isanti shot putters who were told Tuesday by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) that they would not be allowed to compete because their coach unintentionally failed to include them on the entry list. The MSHSL relented Thursday evening and approved their participation.
Cambridge-Isanti's Erin Baker finished eighth with a distance of 33-7.75, and teammate A'Nyjah Presswood finished 21st with a distance of 25-1.25.
Wiltrout, who had been a softball player in spring until turning to track and field for her senior year, entered the section meet with a personal best of 36-9.5, set when she won the Mississippi 8 Conference championship. That would have been good enough Friday, but she did better.
All of which causes a scheduling problem for the Wiltrout family. "We're going to have to change the grad party," said Shari Wiltrout, Evelyn's mother.
Evelyn, headed to Wisconsin-River Falls to play basketball, was to be feted at a graduation party June 10. That conflicts with the finals of the Class 3A state championships at St. Michael-Albertville High School. A few meets ago the conflict didn't appear to be a concern, but Evelyn has set a personal best in each of her past four meets.
"It does throw a wrench into a few plans," she said. "We weren't expecting it, never even considered I'd make it to state."
Shari Wiltrout said Thursday that she could feel the support of Minnesotans, voiced on social media, for the three shot putters. On Friday she felt that support in person.
"I do have to give credit to some of the parents tonight, parents from other towns who came to me and said they were really pleased MSHSL made the decision they did," she said.
The MSHSL cited "unique circumstances" for allowing the three to compete despite not being on the entry list by the Tuesday deadline: "After conducting a thorough review, the League has determined that, given the unique circumstances, participation by the omitted students would not impact the competitive integrity or effective management of the section meet. Therefore, the student athletes will be allowed to compete in the section meet."
It was the second such reversal this spring by MSHSL. Five boys golfers who were told they would be suspended for playing too many rounds during the high school season also received relief from the MSHSL and were allowed to compete in section meets.