Track-and-field career has been special for Century's Megan Lund

May 13—ROCHESTER — Kris Allen says she will cry unmercifully when Megan Lund's name is announced in a few weeks as a Century graduate.

Lund has been a model athlete and person for Allen, who's been the Panthers' girls track and field coach since the school opened in 1997. Lund has been exactly the kind of person and athlete that Allen hopes to coach every season — hard working, unselfish, talented and continually putting the team first.

This has been going on ever since Lund joined the varsity three years ago, as a freshman.

Not only that, the multi-athlete (five-year varsity starter in volleyball) went a long way toward putting Century sprinters on the state map. She has been on stellar sprint relays the past three years, including the school's only state championship one as a sophomore. That was when Favor Omoijuanfo, Madison Habberstad, Sarrah Lindner and Lund combined to win the 4x100 relay state championship in 47.70.

They did it with Lund seemingly pulling off a minor miracle. As the team's anchor, she received the baton last. And when she grabbed it, Century looked to have little to no chance of winning the race, Minnetonka's final runner starting her 100 leg a good distance ahead of Lund.

But no matter. Lund proceeded to run the race of her life and had enough juice to pass the Minnetonka runner by the tiniest of margins, giving Century the state title.

It was one of the best individual performances in a relay that Allen had ever witnessed, leaving an indelible mark on her.

"That race was so close, we were holding our breath after it was done to find out who'd actually won," Allen said. "When the result came in, it was so special because you never know when that opportunity will come around again. Prior to Megan joining our program, we'd never sent a sprint relay to state."

In Lund's first three years with the program, Century has had a state sprint relay reach state every time, including winning the 4x100 title in 2022 and finishing second last year in the 4x200. Lund anchored all of those.

So yes, in three weeks when Lund exits the proverbial graduate's door, it's going to be hard on Allen. Really, really hard. She has been a part of something incredibly special. And she has gone a long way in making it so.

"Megan has been a real difference maker for our program," Allen said. "She has always been such a team player. Track is a real individual sport; that's what so many focus on. But that she's always put the team first, that is what makes her special. She has always been one that has wanted to do those relays, and not every star sprinter wants to do that. She is going to be so missed after graduation. I will cry ugly tears when she goes. It's going to be hard because she is such a special kid. It is going to be hard to let her go."

It will be hard because it always is.

"That is my least favorite part of this job, letting kids go," Allen said. "You spend so much time with these girls and you see them at their absolute peaks and you see them when they're crushed and devastated. You begin to think of them like your own kids."

Lund has been grateful to be one of Allen's "kids."

"Kris Allen has always been a big influence for me," Lund said. "From the very start, she's always been there for me. She has given me multiple pep talks through my multiple crying sessions. She has always been there for me, whether I've been up or down."

Lund has been grateful to be a part of this program, period.

In her grade school days, volleyball — where Lund is a standout setter — had always been her favorite sport. But once she started doing track and field at Century as a freshman, her No. 1 began to shift.

Lund had a strong hunch she was going to succeed as a high school track and field athlete. Growing up in Rochester, she'd always been the speediest girl in the neighborhood, and outraced most of the boys, too.

When she arrived at Century, Allen put Lund's talents immediately to work, installing her as the anchor in both the 4x100 and 4x200 relays. It was those relays, as well as the long jump, that stayed Lund's focus forever more.

And they have remained her focus. Lund knows it won't be easy to get back to state in either the 4x100 or 4x200 relay, with just she and Clara Gerhard the only holdovers from last year's relays collections.

Lund's has a problematic knee too that is nagging her enough that she's mostly stayed away from the long jump this year.

But she's not about to sell anything short. A girl who'll run next year at Division III track-and-field power University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Lund believes she can get back to state one final time and hopes it's in her favorite — a relay.

As usual, she'll get the baton last in order to try to make that happen.

That's just the way she likes it, with the final outcome resting on her.

"I like the bright lights," Lund said. "I know then that it is time to show out."