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GMG senior Ethan Karsjen climbs to third with career-best time in 400

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - GMG senior Ethan Karsjen, middle, leans as he crosses the line in the Class 1A 400-meter run on Thursday in the Iowa Co-Ed Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Karsjen finished third in the race with a time of 49.90 seconds, his fastest time and best state placing of his career.

DES MOINES — A year ago, GMG runner Ethan Karsjen ran a new school record in the 800-meter run at the Iowa Co-Ed Track and Field Championships on his way to placing seventh in the meet.

Karsjen was back at it again on Thursday on the first day of the 2019 state meet, and he both lowered his race length and his placing. Karsjen ran a blistering 49.90 seconds in the final heat of the Class 1A 400 to finish in third place, a time and placing he has wanted all year.

“Before every race I’ve been yelling, ’49! 49! 49!’ in my head, and I got it. It’s always at Drake, usually,” he said. “I got the 49 and I am beyond excited.”

As for why his best times always seem to come on the Blue Oval of Drake Stadium, Karsjen said he feels like that’s his stage and he is ready to perform.

“In my mind track is a spectator sport,” he said. “I want the crowd to be yelling at the end and freaking out about who’s going to win, that’s what excites me and drives me usually.”

In the last two years as an 800 competitor, Karsjen would always run his race on Saturday. He said going on the first day of competition was an adjustment, but not a hard one.

“I had one race today and it was my first time running on Thursday, so even though I had been out here the last two years it’s still a different experience rather than waiting for Saturday,” he said. “The Drake track doesn’t wait for anyone though, it’s a machine, so the next the next thing I knew I was lining up and it was like, ‘oh boy.'”

Being a state placer and a school record holder in the 800, it would be logical for Karsjen to continue excelling in that race throughout his four years, but he said that’s not really how he’s made up.

“I’ve always been one to not dwell, and I feel like I achieved my goals in the 800 last year, big time,” he said. “I feel like the 400 presented itself to me, and I wanted to take advantage because apparently my training pumped me into the 400.”

Karsjen will have one more opportunity to earn another placing before his time on the track for the Wolverines is done, as he and the sprint medley relay team of Brock Baldazo, Andrew Collins and Carson Wobeter are seeded sixth and in the final heat of Saturday’s race.

“We are in the fast heat, thankfully, and I’ve got three other seniors who want it,” he said. “That’s what encouraged me, honestly, because they had never been to state so to come out and do this and bring them to state with me, it’s fun to share the experience.”