PREP TRACK & FIELD: Worthington boys claim titleWORTHINGTON — With 13 top-three individual performances and four more top-three relay finishes Thursday afternoon, the Worthington Trojans captured the Sub-Section 9 boys’ track and field team championship at Trojan Field, winning by a 52-point margin.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — With 13 top-three individual performances and four more top-three relay finishes Thursday afternoon, the Worthington Trojans captured the Sub-Section 9 boys’ track and field team championship at Trojan Field, winning by a 52-point margin.
Worthington, which has won every outdoor meet it has competed in this season except for the Section 2AA True Team meet (nine of 10), racked up 187.5 points to outdistance second-place Jackson County Central’s total of 135.5 points.
Springfield/Cedar Mountain/Comfrey placed third with 93.5 points, while Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central was fourth with 87.5. Windom (69), Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin (68), Mountain Lake Christian (39) and Southwestern United (16) completed the eight-team standings.
Worthington’s 17 top-three finishes were the most by any team Thursday. The top three in each event automatically qualify for the Section 3A meet, which will be held next Thursday in Luverne.
Thirteen Trojans contributed to those top-three performances, including six who advanced in three events apiece. Brandon Berger won a trio of individual events, while five Trojans each advanced in one individual event and were a part of two advancing relay teams.
“Our guys performed well once again, and we’ve done that all year,” Worthington co-head coach Mike Traphagen said. “We had a lot of good performances, including a big day in the shot put. Overall, it was a nice day for our track and field program.”
JCC had 13 total top-three efforts, while S/CM/C had 10. Both W-WG/RRC and Windom had five top-three performances, ML/B-O had three, and SWU had two.
Worthington’s quartet of Ethan Spittle, Michael Patten, O.J. Ojullu and Aduo Omot won the meet-opening 4x800-meter relay in a time of 8:25.11. JCC (8:35.74) and S/CM/C (9:16.26) took second and third, respectively.
Berger then claimed his first gold medal of the day with a win in the 110-meter high hurdles. His time of 16.31 bettered Windom’s Jesse LaMaack (second, 16.52) and S/CM/C’s Dylan Boettger (third, 16.81).
JCC’s Nathan Brandt, who also qualified in three individual events, ran a time of 11.72 to win the 100-meter dash. Worthington’s Casey Vis (11.83) nipped S/CM/C’s Josh Anderson (11.85) for the silver medal.
Vis teamed with Mike Henrichs, Jeremy Clark and Will Collin to win the meet’s next race (4x200-meter relay) in a time of 1:36.42. W-WG/RRC (1:39.64) and JCC (1:40.24) were second and third, respectively.
Ojullu ran a time of 4:44.08 to win the 1,600-meter run, followed by JCC’s duo of Matt Kocak (second, 4:49.47) and Sam Hendrickson (third, 4:51.63).
“It was a good day to run with not much wind, and I felt good out there,” said Ojullu, who later teamed with Collin, Clark and Omot to win the meet-ending 4x400-meter relay. “I’ve been having fun this season, as we have a lot of good athletes on our team, and we’ve won a lot of meets together.”
W-WG/RRC (46.77) claimed first in the 4x100-meter relay, finishing ahead of second-place Worthington (47.04) and third-place S/CM/C (47.82). Henrichs, Vis, Nathan Mejia and Joe Dickey ran for the Trojans in that race.
Omot (51.13) and Collin (52.07) gave the Trojans a 1-2 finish in the 400-meter dash. Collin had a strong finishing kick to pass Brandt (third, 52.15) at the very end.
It was Berger (first, 42.12), LaMaack (second, 42.22) and Boettger (third, 43.11) once again in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, repeating their finishes in the 110s. Berger’s time was a personal-best.
“Will keeps getting better in the 400, and we sure like his effort and his guts,” Traphagen said. “We were also really pleased with Brandon’s race in the 300 hurdles. That was pretty awesome.”
Windom’s John Curley used a strong final 200 meters to win the 800-meter run in a time of 2:11.99. W-WG/RRC’s Rich Rohlik (second, 2:12.39) and S/CM/C’s Ryan Carlson (third, 2:12.54) were also in a five-man pack — with Curley — that finished strong.
Brandt picked up his second victory of the day in the 200-meter dash, clocking a time of 23.78. Anderson (24.62) and ML/B-O’s Michael Balla (24.82) were the next two finishers.
“I had a pretty good day, and it’s nice to advance to the section meet in three events,” Brandt said. “A lot of my teammates also had good performances, so I’m happy about that, too.”
JCC’s Marc Strom (first) and Justin Cook (second) ran sparkling times of 10:17.11 and 10:18.48, respectively, in the 3,200-meter run. They pulled away from Spittle, who finished third with a time of 10:25.02.
Worthington’s 4x400-meter relay team finished with a first-place time of 3:33.31. W-WG/RRC (second, 3:42.25) and JCC (third, 3:42.68) also earned automatic bids to next week’s section meet.
Max Pierson and Jordon Bentz went 1-2 in the shot put for Worthington, tossing the heavy ball 46-4 and 44-0.5, respectively. JCC’s Matt Buschena (43-4) finished third.
Pierson added a second-place performance in the discus (130-10), finishing between Windom’s Bryce Quiring (first, 135-10) and Robbie Anderson (third, 126-4).
Berger won the triple jump with a leap of 41-10, followed by SWU’s Nick Ober (39-10) in second, and ML/B-O’s Dalton Wall (37-7) in third.
Wall won the long jump by sailing 20-6.25. Ober (19-8.75) was also second in that event, while S/CM/C’s Andy Scholtz placed third with a jump of 19-0.
W-WG/RRC’s Theo Johnson cleared 11 feet to win the pole vault, with Dickey and JCC’s Taylor Menke each going 9-6 and tying for second.
Carlson and teammate Nate Golden both went 5-6 in the high jump, with Carlson winning based on misses. Henrichs (5-4) and JCC’s Nathan Schulz (5-4) tied for third, meaning Sub-Section 9 will send at least four athletes to the section meet in the high jump.
MLC’s Jacan Simon was fourth in three different individual events, including the 400-meter dash (54.79), the long jump (18-9) and the triple jump (37-6).
Among Worthington’s athletes to narrowly miss an automatic bid to the section meet were Aaron Grafing (fourth, 1,600, 4:53.41), Mitch Weg (fifth, high jump, 5-4), Will Dudley (fourth, pole vault, 9-0) and Jalen Voss (fifth, shot put, 41-2).
There is still a chance many of the athletes who did not finish in the top three Thursday can still advance to the section meet. After the 12 automatic bids (top three from Sub-Sections 9, 10, 11 and 12) are factored in, the next four best performances from the entire section will also earn advancement — giving each event a total of 16 participants.
Then, the top two in each individual event and the top finishing relay teams at the section meet will advance to the Class A state meet June 5 and 6 at Hamline University in St. Paul. Advancement can also be earned by matching the state-qualifying standard in each event.