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BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Anchor Jessie Guerra takes the handoff from Worthington High School teammate Erik Landgaard as he goes on to win the 800-meter relay Thursday afternoon in Worthington.

Prep track: Cardinals, Trojans rule in Worthington

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Prep track: Cardinals, Trojans rule in Worthington
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

Les Knutson

Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON —With nine area teams participating, the annual running of the Worthington Invitational high school track and field meet was a huge success Thursday at Trojan Field, as numerous stellar early-season performances were recorded.


Among the best times on the track were a sizzling 1:50.70 by the Luverne girls’ 4x200-meter relay team and a blistering 11.24 by LHS senior Jon Ehde in the boys’ 100-meter dash.

Worthington senior Will Dudley cleared 13 feet to win the boys’ pole vault by a full two feet and Luverne senior Cody Rofshus, who also won the discus (137-10), notched a winning distance of 51-8 in the shot put, nearly six feet better than the second-place mark, to highlight the day’s best field event performances.

Team-wise, the Luverne girls and the Worthington boys each breezed to meet titles and Achan Alwal (Worthington) Morgan Merritt (Canby), Nicole Slater (Adrian), Chantelle Groen (Southwest Minnesota Christian), Dirk Thone (Luverne) and Nathan Pavek (Canby) joined Rofshus as multiple-event individual winners.

Luverne, which won six of the 18 girls’ events and placed second seven times, racked up a total of 210 points to easily claim first in the girls’ standings. Canby was a solid second with 136 points, followed by Worthington (98), Southwest Minnesota Christian (70), Fulda (54), Windom (41), Adrian (35), Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central (29) and Southwestern United (27).

Worthington won five of the 18 boys’ events and scored seven seconds, as the Trojans tallied 193½ points, winning the meet by 45½ points over second-place Luverne (148). Canby finished third in the boys’ standings with 111½ points, followed by Windom (97), W-WG/RRC (46½), SWC (42½), Fulda (37), Adrian (11) and SWU (six).

Alwal claimed top honors in the discus (104-5) and the high jump (4-8). Merritt impressively won the 100-meter low hurdles (16.63) and the 300-meter lows (47.92) by large margins. Slater finished first in the 400-meter dash (1:02.29) and the 800-meter run (2:22.68), pulling away early in each race. Groen finished first in the long jump (15-10¼) and later utilized a strong finish to win the 200-meter dash (28.10).

Thone looked smooth racing to victory in both the 400 (52.42) and 200 (23.48), giving the Cardinals a clean sweep of the boys’ sprints. Pavek placed first in the long jump (19-½) after winning the high hurdles in a fine time of 15.94.

Luverne’s girls started the day off in fine fashion, winning the 4x800-meter relay, clocked at 10:15.19 with the quartet of Madi Schandelmeier, Jadyn Anderson, Gabrielle Ferrell and Makayla Hohn running for the Cardinals.

After Kynize Smedsrud (17.70), Jaidyn Elbers (18.63) and Samantha Pierce (19.38) combined for 19 points with a 2-3-4 finish in the high hurdles, Luverne racked up 23 more with a 1-2-4 performance in the 100-meter dash, giving veteran Coach Craig Nelson’s squad a total of 52 points with just three events scored.

“Our girls had a great day, no doubt about it,” praised Nelson, who has enjoyed remarkable success in years past and appears to have one of his best all-around squads yet. “We have several good performers in every event, which really helps boost our team score.”

Tayla Peterson (13.48), Sierra Schmuck (13.72) and Tianna Doppenberg (13.98) were the three Cardinal sprinters who churned the 100.

Already holding a huge lead, the Cardinals scored 10 more points with their sparkling victory in the 4x200. Schmuck, Naomi Dooyema, Smedsrud and Peterson were smooth with their exchanges for the Cardinals, outsprinting very good teams from both Worthington (1:53.25) and Southwest Christian (1:53.68).

Schandelmeier (5:35.60) and Ferrell (5:44.30) followed up with a 1-2 finish in the 1,600-meter run and the Cardinals had 80 points after just five running events.

“We got off to a great start, that’s for sure,” summed up Nelson. “It was nice to win the two relays and we scored multiple high places in each of first three individual running events.”

Meanwhile, the Cardinals were getting a field event victory from Morgan Edwards in the shot put (34-1) and later picked up another first place on the track when Hohn won the 3,200 (12:11.12).

Worthington won two relays as the team of Allison Kremer, Emma Thuringer, Katelyn Walters and Anna Kill blazed a 53.62 to win the 4x100 and later Thuringer, Meredith Moore, Olivia Ebbers and Kremer claimed victory in the 4x400, clocked at 4:25.43.

In both races, the Trojans received outstanding anchor runs.

“Anna has a lot of speed and really put the hammer down after she got the baton,” declared WHS co-head coach Doug Brands about Kill’s anchor in the 4x100. “We loaded up the 4x400 and Allison was so determined to not let Luverne catch us down that final stretch.”

Fulda’s Sariah Cheadle (triple jump, 31-5¼) and Windom’s Amy Muller (pole vault, 8-0) were the other two girls’ individual first-place performers.

Trojan boys win 4x200, 4x400

In addition to Dudley’s win in the vault, the Trojans picked up a pair of relay victories and also received back-to-back first-place performances on the track from Gbrown Ochothow (300-meter intermediate hurdles, 41.14) and Anthony Hartman (800-meter run, 2:10.95).

Ochothow, Troy Ektnitphong, Erik Landgaard and Jessie Guerra sprinted to victory in the 4x200 (1:35.53) and the team of Lars Opaczek, Oliver Wolyniec, Hartman and Tony Lopez finished first in the 4x400 (3:46.04).

Hartman had earlier held off a strong challenge by SWC sophomore Dillon Mulske (2:11.26) in an exciting finish in the 800.

Mulske won the sprint in the 1,600, finishing first with a time of 4:54.62, outkicking Worthington’s Amanuel Fissiha (4:56.76).

“Dillon has really come on this spring,” praised SWC head coach Brian Tschetter. “He’s really a fine distance runner who also has good speed.”

Windom won the 4x100 in a time of 46.11 with the team of Alex Leopold, Brian Ogeka, Tyler Morgan and Victor Okega (triple jump winner, 40-¾) exchanging the batons and Luverne was first in the 4x800 (8:43.02) with the foursome of Drew Weis, Cody Hess, Ethan Marshall and Payton Stemper.

Hess later won the 3,200, clocked at 10:39.39 and Adrian’s Taylor Recker cleared 5-8 to win the high jump.