PREP TRACK: Trojan boys run away from field to claim conference titleWORTHINGTON — Placing 30 athletes among the top eight finishers in the 14 individual events Thursday afternoon, the Worthington Trojans racked up 207.5 points and won the Southwest Conference boys’ track and field team championship at Trojan Field.
WORTHINGTON — Placing 30 athletes among the top eight finishers in the 14 individual events Thursday afternoon, the Worthington Trojans racked up 207.5 points and won the Southwest Conference boys’ track and field team championship at Trojan Field.
Worthington has now won four conference meet titles in the last five years, including one in each of the last three years. The Trojans won the annual seven-team meet in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
“That was a lot of fun, as our guys performed well and accomplished a great team goal together,” Worthington co-head coach Ken Henkels said after watching the Trojans take a victory lap. “We have so many talented athletes who enjoy competing in track and field, and to win the Southwest Conference meet four times in the last five years is really something special for our boys’ team.”
Worthington, which won seven individual events and the meet-ending 4x400-meter relay, claimed the first-place trophy by a commanding 62.5-point margin. Marshall was second with 145 points, while Pipestone Area placed third with 126.
Redwood Valley (77), Jackson County Central (61.5), Luverne (41) and Windom (36) completed the team standings.
Leading the Trojans to their third straight conference meet victory were Mubarik Musa and Brandon Berger with a pair of first-place finishes individually.
Worthington’s O.J. Ojullu, Naakoo Omot and Junior Nguyen each won an event, as well.
Musa was a double-winner in the distance races, as he used a strong final lap and paced a 1-2 Trojans’ finish in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:28.34. Ojullu, who led for most of the initial three laps, placed second with a time of 4:35.76.
Musa later posted a convincing victory in the 3,200-meter run, finishing with a time of 10:08.81 — nearly 30 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
“I had a good finish and closed hard in the 1,600,” Musa said. “I need to improve in the 3,200 the next time out, but it was a good day overall. I felt pretty good, and it’s nice to help the team out.”
Ojullu, who anchored the Trojans’ 4x400 (3:30.89 — joined by Will Collin, Jeremy Clark and Berger), picked up a gold medal in the 800-meter run. His time of 2:01.29 was more than five seconds better than the rest of the field.
“I was able to run a couple of good races,” Ojullu said. “It’s all about helping the team do well and contributing any way that I can. We have so many good athletes on our team, and it is great to win the conference.”
Berger won both the 110-meter hurdles (15.18) and the triple jump (42-7) while finishing second in the 300-meter hurdles (41.21). Omot was the winner in the 300 hurdles (40.34) and added a third-place finish in the long jump (19-8) and a sixth-place effort in the 110 hurdles (16.89).
Junior Nguyen captured first place in the pole vault (11-9), while Will Dudley (fourth, 11-0) and Marcus Potter (tied for sixth, 9-6) also scored key points for the Trojans.
Worthington’s Jalen Voss secured two solid fourth-place finishes, one in the shot put (43-0) and one in the discus (130-7). Jordon Bents placed second in the shot put (51-9½), while Sam Landberg was eighth in the discus (115-7).
Collin and Clark ran well in both the 100-meter and 400-meter dashes for Worthington. Collin was second (51.12) in the 400 and fourth (11.57) in the 100, while Clark was third (52.44) in the 400 and fifth (11.67) in the 100.
Nathan Mejia (39-5) and Mitch Weg (38-1) gave the Trojans a 1-3-4 finish in the triple jump (along with Berger). Weg added a sixth-place result in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5-2.
Ethan Spittle’s time of 10:39.73 was good enough for third in the 3,200, while the Trojans had Michael Patten (fourth, 2:10.04) and Omot Othowo (fifth, 2:11.03) place well in the 800. Derik Verdoorn was fourth in the 200 (23.86).
Rudy Ramirez (200, 24.72) and Omot Okello (300 hurdles, 44.08) each claimed an eighth-place finish for the Trojans, who displayed their depth in a variety of ways both on the track and in the field events.
“We are able to score a lot of points in all of the events, which makes it fun for the entire team,” Henkels said. “We have good depth, as many of our second and third guys in certain events had some great performances. It is just a joy to coach these kids and watch their hard work pay off with the type of success they achieve.”
Worthington’s 4x800-meter relay team finished second with a time of 8:41.62, while the Trojans’ 4x200 team was fourth (1:36.79) and the 4x100 team was fifth (47.27).
PA won both the 4x200 (1:32.84) and the 4x100 (44.85), while JCC was the winner in the 4x800 (8:18.16).
The Arrows’ Eric Stark enjoyed another banner day in the throwing events, capturing gold medals in the shot put (54-3½) and the discus (163-9½).
“Both the shot put and the discus require good technique, and I have been working hard on my form lately,” Stark said. “I also worked hard in the weight room since last year to get stronger, and I have been able to have a good senior season.”
PA’s Shandon Jones took top honors in the long jump (20-8¾) and was third in the 110 hurdles (15.70). Gathin Veldhuizen, who was third in the 300 hurdles (41.88) and fourth in the long jump (19-3¼), placed second in the 110 hurdles (15.43) — one of four seconds on the day for the Arrows.
Colin Cooper (100, 11.48, tied), Casey Kooiker (200, 23.12) and Michael Merrill (high jump, 5-10) each earned a silver medal for PA.
JCC’s Nathan Schulz placed second in the long jump (20-0) and third in the high jump (5-8). Ike Pohlman (300 hurdles, 42.94) and Matt Kocak (400, 52.87) each had a fifth-place finish for the Huskies.
Shane Kramer had Luverne’s best individual finish, taking second in the triple jump (41-2). Jon Ehde tied with Cooper for second in the 100 (11.48).
Bryce Quiring (discus, 135-2; high jump, 5-4) and John Curley (800, 2:08.85; 1,600, 4:46.54) each earned a third- and a fifth-place finish, respectively, to lead Windom.
Marshall’s Beau Bofferding had a big day, winning all three dashes. Bofferding’s times of 11.21 (100), 22.77 (200) and 50.69 (400) gave the Tigers a boost with 30 points.
RV’s Randy Juell won the high jump (5-10) and was second in the pole vault (11-9).
Worthington, which has now won eight meets this year, will compete in the Class AA State True Team meet Saturday afternoon (3 p.m.) in Stillwater. The Trojans earned advancement to the state meet by virtue of winning the ‘Wild Card’ meet held last week.
“We are going to go up there, have some fun and see what happens,” Henkels said. “There are nine teams there, and we think that we can make a good showing. We want to follow this conference title up by competing well with some of the best teams in the state.”