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John's Journal: No Track, No Problem For Fastest Female In Minnesota

Hills-Beaver Creek Ninth-Grader Brynn Bakken Outruns Everybody

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2024 - 6:35 PM


Brynn Bakken wins the Class A 100 meters at the Trojan Relays in Worthington.


Brynn Bakken.

WORTHINGTON – Brynn Bakken is a marvel. She’s a sprinter, a speed merchant, a stick of dynamite, a four-sport farm kid from a small town. And during this 2024 track and field season, she’s the fastest female in Minnesota.

Brynn is not old enough to drive but man oh man does she speed.

The 15-year-old is a ninth-grader at Hills-Beaver Creek in extreme southwest Minnesota, a high school with an enrollment of 115 students. She qualified for the Class A state track meet as a seventh- and eighth-grader and seems destined to become a six-time state participant.

This spring, nearing the halfway point of her high school career, Bakken has marked herself as not only one of the top sprinters in Minnesota but one of the best in the upper Midwest. In fact, her personal best at 100 meters (11.90 seconds) is the 15th-fastest time in Minnesota high school history. That time also is the fastest of any female, regardless of school size, in the state this spring.  

Tuesday’s 70th annual two-class Trojan Relays in Worthington was a typical workday for Bakken. She won the 100, the 200, the long jump and anchored the winning 4x100 relay team (along with Trinity Olson, Ava Steinhoff and Brynn Rauk) as the Patriots won the Class A girls team title. In all four events, the Patriots’ winning times and distances were better than any of the Class AA schools competing in the meet.

It’s pretty amazing when you look at what Brynn has already accomplished and then toss in this informational nugget: Hills-Beaver Creek has no track and almost nothing in the way of track and field practice facilities. The only real training area they have is a high jump pit. They have cobbled together throwing circles for the discus and shot put athletes, but they may not be absolutely regulation.

Rex Metzger, who coaches track and football at Hills-Beaver Creek, said the track and field athletes have learned to treat early-season competitions as practices.

Bakken and the other sprinters work out indoors a lot, setting up starting blocks on carpet inside the gym “and then we just go from there,” she said.

“It would be nice to have our own track because then we could get more reps in, but we've learned to cope with it.”

She only wears her size 8½ spikes at meets, since there is no real track surface for workouts. But when the spikes go on, the fast times come out.

Brynn ran that 11.90 in winning the 100 meters at the Hamline Elite Meet in late April, racing against the best sprinters in the state regardless of school enrollment on a track where she had never set foot before. And a week later, at the prestigious Howard Wood Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls, she won the 100 in 11.98 seconds, topping a field of 64 athletes in that event.

Bakken holds school records in the 100 meters, the 200 (25.72), the triple jump (35 feet, 8.25 inches) and as a member of the 4x100 relay team (50.98).

Barring calamity she will compete in this year’s Class A state track meet June 6-8 at St. Michael Albertville. As a seventh-grader, Brynn finished seventh in the 100, ran the 200 without qualifying for the finals and was part of a seventh-place 4x100 team. A year ago as an eighth-grader, she finished third in the 100, sixth in the 200 and ninth in the triple jump at state.

She also plays volleyball and basketball, as well as club softball in the summer. There aren’t a lot of sports at Hills-Beaver Creek; 9-player football and volleyball in the fall, girls and boys basketball in the winter, and track and golf in the spring.

A frequently raised question to the Patriots coaching staff goes something like this: How fast can she run before her high school career is over in the spring 2027?

“That's a good question,” said Dalton Bass, who coaches the Patriots sprinters as well as long and triple jumpers. “That's what we're wondering. When you look at how hard she works, the sky's the limit.”

The Hills-Beaver Creek coaches have put together a speed-and-strength program, for kids in fourth grade through 12th grade, that pays dividends in lots of sports. Brynn has one sibling, her brother Beau, a junior football player and track athlete who has encouraged her to visit the school weight room often.

“They spend lot of time in there,” Metzger said. “She stays strong.”

Brynn, who stands 5-foot-9, looks strong because she is strong.

“I think the most important thing for sprinting is staying at it throughout the offseason and making sure you're still lifting,” she said. “If you don't lift, then you're going to lose muscle or not be able to gain any.

“My brother has motivated me a lot to get in the weight room. He is very helpful and he’s probably a big part of my success.”

Bass said, “She's pretty physically talented. That's pretty obvious, but I think what sets her apart is just how hard she works in the weight room and during track workouts.”

There are genetics in play, as well. The Bakken kids’ parents, Jay and Suzie, were talented high school athletes in their own right, Jay in Hills and Suzie in Pleasanton, Nebraska. The family farm business includes raising beef cattle on the farm where Jay grew up, a mile east of the South Dakota border in Rock County.

“Genetically, she was born with that (speed),” Metzger said. “She’s getting faster but she does the things it takes to get faster.”

When Brynn talks about her goals for this season, the first words out of her mouth involve her teammates.

“I want to get our 4 x 4 team to state,” she said. “I want that experience for the other girls. In the 100 I would like to get there and place in the top three, and in the 200 I would like to make the finals at state.”

Asked when she knew she could run fast, Brynn smiled and mentioned the annual track and field day held for elementary students at Hills-Beaver Creek.

“It’s called the Puppy Relays,” she said. “I always won most of the races.”

Of course she did.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] or [email protected] 

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