Red River hurdler Sophie Brakke makes unique transition to solidify state's top-ranked 4x400 relay team

May 21—GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Red River's Sophie Brakke guesses she ran two 400-meter races last season — one indoor and one outdoor.

Brakke's track and field background is mostly in the hurdles and jumps.

Before this track and field season started, though, Brakke wanted to run some 400 events in order to help her times in the 300 hurdles.

The Roughriders' coaches told Brakke she could run a spot on the team's 4x400 relay team.

"They just put me on it because I wanted to run a 400 and not many people want to run that race," Brakke said.

The somewhat unlikely pairing has been a fruitful connection for the Roughriders. The defending state champions in the 4x400 relay, Red River takes the No. 1 seed in the event — thanks to two new members — into this weekend's state meet in Bismarck.

The Red River relay returned two of the state's top middle distance runners in Jocelyn Schiller and Morgan Hartze. After experimenting with options to fill out the relay due to the graduation of Lauren Dosch and Emily Nelson, the Riders settled on Brakke and Jocie Hoefs to complete the foursome.

"I was really nervous at first because those two are two of the state's fastest," Brakke said.

The relay team's 4:03.48 seed time, which came at the East Region meet, is more than 5 seconds faster than No. 2 Fargo Davies.

Red River girls track and field coach Adam Eckert, who was named East Region Coach of the Year, said Hoefs and Brakke have been strong additions as veterans in the program, despite being younger than the seniors of Hartze and Schiller. Brakke is a junior and Hoefs is a freshman.

"Both Brakke and Hoefs started as middle schoolers with us," Eckert said. "They have a lot more experience than just the high school years. We have a unique situation of being able to bring those girls up early. They're tough competitors. As the season went on, those two made it clear they gave us the best chance to be a little quicker there (in the 4x400)."

Brakke broke the Red River school record in the triple jump at EDC and finished first. She finished second in the long jump. Entering state, Brakke has the state's top mark in the triple jump and third-best mark in the long jump.

"She's a real competitor," Eckert said. "She always has a great attitude. She puts pressure on her self but you wouldn't know it the way she carries herself. She's a good leader. It's fun to watch her grow as an athlete and person."

Local athletes with Top 5 seeds according to

400 — 3. Jocelyn Schiller, RR, :58.44

800 — 2. Schiller, RR, 2:17.49; 3. Morgan Hartze, RR, 2:18.60

4x400 — 1. Red River (Jocie Hoefs, Sophie Brakke, Schiller, Hartze) 4:03.48

4x800 — 3. Red River (Ava Parks, Mattea Green, Schiller, Hartze) 9:57.29

Javelin — 1. Ella Weippert, RR, 138-5

High jump — 5. Hoefs, RR, 5-2

Long jump — 3. Brakke, RR, 18-7.25

Triple jump — 1. Brakke, RR, 38-0.25