WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Yeh hopes to match sister's success
Like sister, like sister.
Brainerd’s Sarah Yeh, and her older sister, Rebecca, share many similar interests, being a masterful violinist among them.
Cross country running is another thread that bonds the Yeh sisters. If Sarah can emulate Rebecca’s success in cross country, she will become an all-state runner Saturday in the Class 2A state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
In the fall of 2010, Rebecca finished 19th at state to earn all-state distinction (top 25). Sarah is hoping for similar success.
“I want to be in the top 25, and I want to get a personal-best (time) if I can,” Sarah said. “I’ll be happy with anything under 15:00.
Sarah qualified for her first state trip by running the seventh-fastest time (15:13.5) in the Section 8-2A meet Oct. 25 at Bemidji. She had battled illness and injury during the regular season to run in six of eight races and the Central Lakes Conference meet but the section is where she felt close to 100 percent.
“I was really ready to compete,” Yeh said of the section. “I felt like I was ready for the race. The mental prep the coaches have us do before a race was helpful too.
“About 1.5 miles into the race I was thinking it was attainable, being top eight. I kept moving up places. It was like girls were coming to me. I didn’t feel like I was pushing through. I felt like I was catching who I needed to.
“I passed the majority of them between about a mile and two miles. Because I had gone out at a certain pace, I wasn’t burned out by then. I felt like I had something left in the tank.”
Warriors coach Dave Herath said the section course was narrower than his team was accustomed to running and that fact might have made it difficult to pass with so many runners competing.
“Sarah is a great even-pace runner, which is what we like most of our girls to be,” he said. “Sarah went out a little quicker and made the field she had to pass smaller. She continued through the race to pass chunks of kids. At about the mile mark she was about 30th. To end up seventh she obviously was doing her share of passing.
“There were three girls in front of her who were 3-4-5 at state last year, and two others who were returning top 15 (in the state). She will be just fine at state. Her goal is to be all-state. If she runs like she did (at the section) she will have no trouble doing that.
“Sections was a wonderful race for Sarah, she’s a great kid, who works hard and does everything you ask her to. It was wonderful that she made it out of a very tough section.”
Yeh, in her fourth varsity season, conceded she was a bit surprised that she qualified to advance but was confident that “I knew what I was capable of all along. Throughout the season different things would be in the way where I wouldn’t feel 100 percent. I knew what I was capable of. I just didn’t know if it would happen at the right time.”
Her future appears unlimited. Her 15:13 time ranks her second all-time for a Brainerd junior on any course, sixth all-time on any course for any grade.
“The girls ahead of her, every single one is an all-state runner,” Herath said of the Warriors’ all-time list. “Sarah’s definitely got the ability. She’s a very tough kid. Sometimes, nerves get to her a little bit, but when she gets at the line there’s no stopping her. She’s a very talented runner.”
Other notable efforts:
■ Fallon Ryan, swimming, won two events in the Central Lakes Conference meet.
■ Hannah McKeag, swimming, and Beth Etterman, diving, each won one title at the CLC meet.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.