WHS TRACK AND FIELD: WHS's Svalland headed to state
ST. PETER -- By virtue of a second-place performance at the Section 2AA high school track and field championships at Gustavus Adolphus College on Wednesday, Worthington's Tara Svalland has qualified for the 2012 Class AA state track and field meet and will compete in the girls' high jump at Hamline University in St. Paul June 8.
Svalland, a junior, will be the only athlete representing the Trojans this year, as the high-caliber competition in the two-day, 16-school meet was extremely challenging.
"Gustavus has a super facility and it was a great meet," summed up WHS co-head coach Ken Henkels. "But, the competition level was just so tough. All 16 of the teams were good, so getting high places was very difficult."
Competing on both Wednesday and Friday, the Trojans ran several season-best times, but were able to come home with just six top-eight placings in the boys' competition and had only a trio of scoring performances in the girls' meet.
Svalland, an all-around athlete who also competes in volleyball and gymnastics, was one of six jumpers (among a field of 39 competitors) to clear the high jump at even five feet Wednesday.
But only her and Mankato West sophomore Hannah Fox had made every height without a miss.
In the jump-off to break the tie, Fox was able to clear 5-1 and claimed first place, giving Svalland the second-place silver medal and eight points for the Trojans.
"Tara really jumped well on a cold and damp day," praised Henkels. "She never had a miss until 5-2 and then wasn't able to make 5-1 in the jump-off either, as she kept hooking the bar with her legs on the way over. But what a season she has had for us."
Svalland has cleared 5-4 this spring and has made 5-2 several times, while winning nearly every meet that she competed in.
State competition is no stranger to Svalland, as she qualified two years ago as a freshman in the Class A high jump and has also competed in the state gymnastics meet.
Dudley clears 12-11, places fourth in boys' pole vault
Worthington had four other athletes place on Wednesday, including a fourth-place performance by sophomore Will Dudley in the boys' pole vault.
Dudley nearly matched his season-best (13-0) by clearing 12-11 at Gustavus and claiming fourth (over Hutchinson's Grant Bordson) on the basis of fewer misses.
"Will certainly competed well in less than ideal weather," declared Henkels. "The competition was exceptional with two vaulters making 13-5 and the winner clearing 15-4."
Dudley's performance put the Worthington boys on the scoreboard with five points.
Senior Mubarik Musa contributed three more points with a sixth-place finish in the 3,200-meter run, covering the eight laps in 9:37.07.
"Mubarik was right with the leaders until the last lap," Henkels said. "There were 45 runners in the race and nine of them ran under 10 minutes."
Thirty-six of the runners broke 11 minutes, including Worthington eighth-grader Ammanuel Fissiha (10:30.49) and Trojan freshman Matt Jirele (10:58.07).
Chaska freshman Joey Duerr won the 3,200 with a sizzling time of 9:20.15.
The WHS boys finished the first day of competition with nine points, as senior Mitch Weg scored an eighth in the triple jump with a best leap of 40-9.25.
Senior Danny Rodriguez qualified for the finals in both the 100-meter dash (11.77) and 200-meter dash (23.18) and junior Ethan Spittle advanced in the 400-meter dash, clocked at 52.53 in the prelims.
Megan Juber runs two strong races, places high twice
Trojan senior Megan Juber capped her stellar all-around WHS athletic career with a pair of impressive distance runs at the section meet.
Competing in the 3,200-meter run on Wednesday, Juber clocked a personal-best time of 11:51.11 and finished sixth, among 36 runners, scoring three points for the Trojans.
Then on Friday, under much better weather conditions, Juber placed fourth in the 1,600-meter run, covering the four laps in 5:27 flat, just missing third-place (5:26.19) by .81 of a second.
"The first two (runners) were well out in front," Henkels said. "But, what a race Megan ran to get fourth in that quality of a field. She ran with the competition, which made her better."
Juber's five points in the 1,600 gave her eight for the meet and the WHS girls a total of 16 (Svalland scored eight on Wednesday).
"Megan had super efforts on both days, finishing her season and career with two terrific races," declared Henkels. "We couldn't have asked for or expected any more from her."
Whitney Coriolan just missed placing, finishing ninth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 49.82. She had run the seventh-best preliminary time on Wednesday, clocked at 49.20.
"Whitney had a fine season and was in there battling again Friday," praised Henkels. "She was running up in about fourth place until she hit a hurdle, which broke her rhythm."
Boys 4x200 relay runs 1:32.65, just misses state berth
Just prior to Juber's outstanding performance in the 1,600, the WHS boys' 4x200-meter relay blazed a season-best time of 1:32.65 and nearly earned state-meet advancement.
The Trojans' foursome of Rodriguez, sophomore Jesse Guerra, Dudley and Spittle all ran fast and exchanged the batons smoothly, racing to an impressive third-place finish.
"They all ran well," declared Henkels. "It was a great race, with an exciting finish. Ethan was closing in on second, but ran out of space."
Buffalo's second-place time was 1:32.09, while New Ulm (1:32.71) and Chaska (1:32.88) finished just behind the Trojans in fourth and fifth, respectively. Hutchinson clocked a winning time of 1:30.87.
"We came close, no doubt about it," concluded Henkels. "Finishing third in that event was one of our highlights."
Musa closed out his brilliant high school distance-running career with a seventh-place finish in the boys' 1,600-meter run, clocked at 4:30.23.
"He again was right with the leaders until some of them broke away on the last lap," noted Henkels. "The competition was outstanding with the top four guys all running under 4:25."
Spittle completed Worthington's scoring with an eighth-place finish in the 400-meter dash finals, timed at 52.38.
Rodriguez just missed placing, finishing ninth in both the 100 (11.63) and 200 (23.37) finals.
"What a great career, Danny had for us," declared Henkels. "He gave us a lot of thrills over the years with his speed in the dashes and on our relays."
The Trojans also ran very well in the meet-ending 4x400-meter relay, just missing a place, by finishing ninth overall (second in the slower heat) with a season-best time of 3:34.26.
Running for WHS were juniors Jon Vorwald and Nathan Landwehr, along with Musa and Spittle.
"That shows you how tough this meet was," summed up Henkels. "We run a 3:34 mile relay and don't even place."
The 18 points scored by the Trojan boys placed them 11th in the final team standings.
Marshall finished ninth with 29 points, led by the dual first-place finishes of senior Beau Bofferding who won the 100 (11.01) and ran a sizzling time of 48.23 to win the 400 in impressive fashion.
Buffalo won the boys' team title with 124 points, while Chanhassen claimed the girls' team championship with 105 points.
Shakopee, Mankato West, Mankato East, New Prague, Holy Family Catholic, Dassel-Cokato, Waconia, Hutchinson, Delano, Chaska, New Ulm and Mound-Westonka were the other schools competing in the Section 2AA meet.