BACK AND LOOKING FOR MORE: Gilbert returns to Class A State Meet in final season

COLLEGEVILLE – It’s only fitting that Watertown-Mayer High School senior Ailsa Gilbert will have her high school career come to an end on the state’s biggest stage. A standout athlete the past four years, Gilbert will close out her high school career at the Class A State Track and Field Meet after sealing her spot by winning the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump at the Section 5A Meet Wednesday at St. John’s University.

“It feels really good,” Gilbert said. “I’m excited to get back to the state meet. It’s definitely my favorite meet because there’s really good kids there, and it’s just fun to go out there and compete.”

It was an eventful day for the senior, competing in her final section meet. Gilbert qualified for four different events (long jump, triple jump, 100-meter hurdles, and 300-meter hurdles), keeping her busy throughout the day. Although competing against some of the best competition around is hard work, Gilbert enjoys how hard it is, both mentally and physically.

“You definitely have to isolate each event,” Gilbert said. “They’re so special in their own ways. I’m constantly preparing days before to be ready to switch between events. It takes a toll on the mental part, but it’s good. I like it. I like keeping busy.”

Gilbert’s day started with long jump, where she took second place, earning a spot at the state meet, but between the first round and final round of jumps, she clinched her first of three spots in the state meet. She blew away her competition in the 100-meter hurdles, taking first place with a time of 15.21 seconds.

“It’s pretty hard,” Gilbert said about moving between two events. “It’s constantly moving. You never really get to sit down. In the end, it’s rewarding, and I’m really proud of my performance. I’m glad that I just got to come here and compete today.”

Following a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles, Gilbert was back at it again in the triple jump. After reaching the finals with an impressive jump, she once again had to switch mindsets as she was set to compete in the 300-meter hurdles.

While Gilbert just missed making the state meet in the 300-meter hurdles with a third-place finish, she didn’t let that bother her. Gilbert finished off the triple jump by taking first place with a jump of 36 feet, 6 inches, adding another event to her state meet schedule. It was a narrow gap for first placefor Gilbert as she edged Maple Lake’s Maggie Larson by just half an inch.

With Gilbert finally done competing after a grueling day in four events, it was time to reflect a bit for the senior who completed her final section meet of her career.

“It hasn’t soaked in yet,” Gilbert said. “A couple of the girls and I were joking before the 100 hurdles that this is our last sections. and that this is our last time running against each other. It’s soaking in now, though. It’s sad, but I’m excited to go to the state meet and see them all again.”

It’s been an impressive ride for Gilbert throughout her career at W-M. While the accolades are certainly something she will always cherish, it’s the familiarity between the competitiors that she loves almost as much.

“It’s so much fun,” Gilbert said. “We just expect to see each other. It’s just fun to go out and compete because we know that each person has their event. We know that this is the person that we have to go after. It just keeps competing more interesting and way more fun and rewarding.”

There’s no doubt that Gilbert has had a lot of fun in her career in a Royals’ uniform. It all comes full circle one last time for the senior Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8 at Hamline University in the Class A State Track and Field Meet. While she’ll look to defend her state title in triple jump, and perhaps add a new title in the 100-meter hurdles, having fun and enjoying her last high school career meet will be the focus for her. That won’t be a problem for the University of Montana commit as that’s what she does best.

“I’m ready to go and have fun,” Gilbert said. “I do my best when I’m having fun. I want to hit some (new personal records) and have a good time.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

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