Denfeld News

June 3, 2011
Duluth News Tribune

Sprinter sets a fast pace
By Rick Weegman

Paige Stratioti had the fastest 100-, 200- and 400-meter times in the Section 7AA track and field preliminaries Wednesday, but it’s perhaps the race she didn’t run that might hold the most potential success.

The Duluth Central senior only ran the 800 once this season, but her sub-2:20 time would have made her the No. 1 section seed in that event as well. It’s a primer for what might come when Stratioti attends Division I North Dakota State this fall.

“I’m sure that’s coming,” she said. “I will fully commit to that if that’s what (the NDSU coaches) want me to do.”

Before looking ahead to the event her father, Tim, calls “a whole ’nother lap of pain,” Stratioti is concentrating on the sprints during Saturday’s section finals in Grand Rapids.

She posted personal-bests in the 100 (12.69) and 200 (25.43) and ran away uncontested in the 400, an event her main rival, Grand Rapids senior Lindsy Mattson, didn’t compete in due to illness. Stratioti is ranked second in Minnesota in the 400, her favorite event and one of the most competitive despite the loss of Mattson.

“I should be in the mix for the top eight in the 200,” she said. “And I’m really confident (in the 400), but whoever wins it down there deserves it just as much as I would. It’s going to be one of the best races at the state meet.”

Central coach Erik Hanson, who won two state titles in the 100 and one in the 400 at Mesabi East and was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American in the 400 at Minnesota Duluth, thinks his star runner has a chance.

“She is a great competitor,” he said. “Every time she goes out to race, she wants to win. That’s a big key as a sprinter, to have that drive to win every time.

“She really wants to win that state championship, and she’s on a great road to do that.”

The main reason has been Stratioti’s offseason workouts, which easily topped 150,000 meters last winter while running intervals three times a week at Wisconsin-Superior.

“This season didn’t happen by magic,” said Tim Stratioti, who guided her workouts. “She’s worked very hard the two winters.”

The elder Stratioti, a 1979 Duluth Denfeld graduate, set the now-retired 880-yard school record as well as a couple of relay records. Paige credits her father with much of her success.

“He played a huge role; he’s my biggest role model,” she said. “He’s super experienced and helps me a lot. Every question I’ve had about running, he’s got an answer for it. I’m very thankful he had enough patience to train me.”

While acknowledging genealogy may have something to do with his daughter’s success, Tim Stratioti doesn’t see too many similarities.

“When I was a runner, I’d be nervous in the blocks,” he said. “But she can’t wait for the gun to go off. She runs like a little kid playing tag.”

The former Denfeld coach says he tends to watch his daughter more from a coach’s perspective than a parent, but that doesn’t mean his words of wisdom are always accepted as such.

“When I watch her run, I always think about how she could strategically change. She always goes out so hard in the 400, I think what if she backed off a little bit early to see what that felt like,” he said. “But when you make suggestions to your kid, all of a sudden you’re not a coach anymore, you’re a father, and you get the eye-rolling.”

Besides, he said, there really isn’t much to change.

“Nothing’s broke, so I don’t know if it’s wise to fix anything.”

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