PREP TRACK AND FIELD: Area athletes on right track (and field) to state meetPIPESTONE — On a nearly perfect day for high school track and field competition, athletes from across Section 3A sought to perform their best Thursday at Paulsen Field in hopes of qualifying for next week’s Minnesota State Meet at Hamline University, June 8-9.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
PIPESTONE — On a nearly perfect day for high school track and field competition, athletes from across Section 3A sought to perform their best Thursday at Paulsen Field in hopes of qualifying for next week’s Minnesota State Meet at Hamline University, June 8-9.
Leading the list of area girls who earned qualification was Fulda senior Sylvia Zanini, who won three events with impressive performances in each.
“It was an amazing day,” summed up Zanini, who won the shot put, 100-meter high hurdles and discus throw in a remarkable all-around performance. “The wind was just right and I was pretty relaxed in each of my events.”
Also winning section gold medals and advancing to Hamline were Hills-Beaver Creek senior Siera Wilgenburg, Adrian senior Austyn Thier and Luverne’s 4x200-meter relay team.
Murray County Central’s junior tandem of Tanner Nepp and Jack Thony each won two events to lead the list of area boy’s individual champions.
Jackson County Central junior Jason Vongsavanh was impressive in the winning the 400-meter dash, Pipestone Area senior veteran Aaron Kozlowski won the 110-meter high hurdles and Luverne’s 4x100-meter relay finished first to complete the list of boys’ sectional winners in the high-powered meet, which had numerous top performances turned in by athletes from the section’s northern schools.
Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd dominated the girls’ team standings, claiming the section championship 104 points, while Redwood Valley and Benson/Kerkhoven-Murduck-Sunberg tied for second with 55 points each.
Fulda, paced by Zanini’s 32 points, finished fourth with 44 points as the team leader among schools from the southern half (Sub-Sections 9 and 10) of the section.
Luverne (39.5), MCC (37.5), Windom (35), Montevideo (33), Adrian (32) and BOLD/Buffalo-Lake-Hector (30.5) completed the top 10 in the girls’ standings, which had a total of 25 teams score points.
Montevideo racked up 97 points to win the boys’ team trophy, while Redwood Valley claimed the runner-up trophy with 90 points.
Luverne finished a solid third in the boys’ standings with 80.5 points and MCC — paced by Nepp’s 20 points and 34 from Thony — was fourth with 64.
JCC placed fifth with 46 points, followed in the top 10 by LQPV/D-B and Yellow Medicine East (each with 39), Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central (31), Pipestone Area (26) and Central Minnesota Christian (23).
Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin (21) and Fulda (20) led the list of the remaining 16 teams which scored points Thursday.
In addition to the section champs, four area girls’ relay teams earned trips to Hamline by claiming second-place finishes, and four other individuals also qualified by placing second in their respective events.
In the boys’ meet, Luverne’s 4x200 relay finished second and will run at the state meet, while Cardinal throwers Alex Weis (shot put) and Cody Rofshus (discus) will also represent LHS.
Southwest Christian/Edgerton hurdler Austin LaFollette, ML/B-O sprinter Jose Gonzales and W-WG/RRC jumper Jeff DeCock each placed second in events Thursday and qualified to compete at Hamline.
Luverne’s Makayla Hohn (3,200-meter run), SWC/E’s Hannah Van Dyke (300-meter low hurdles), W-WG/RRC’s Chloe Arfsten (pole vault) and Windom’s Hannah Steele (shot put and discus) were the area’s other girls to advance in individual events.
Zanini uncorks best-ever distance of 42-2 to win girls’ shot put
While the discus is Zanini’s favorite event, the multi-talented Italian foreign-exchange student, unleashed her best-ever performance in the shot put, getting her day off on the right foot.
Zanini surpassed the 42-foot mark on both of her first two throws — something she had never done before.
“I was surprised how far my first two throws went,” she exclaimed later after finishing her fourth event — the 300-meter low hurdles. “I just felt so loose and relaxed and was able to put a lot into those first two, which were by far my best ever.”
Zanini’s best mark was 42 feet, 2.25inches, clinching the first of her three gold medals.
Next, she won a close race in the high hurdles, clocking a time of 16.37.
“I was in lane three, which I like — right next to Tia (Muller from Pipestone Area) and it was close,” recalled Zanini about the race. “We had a little wind at our backs which made the three steps between hurdles much easier than when we have run into the wind in other meets.”
LQPV/D-B’s Morgan Munsterman finished second (16.40) with Muller clocked at 16.44 in third, as the race was indeed very close between those top three.
Zanini whirled the discus (132-11) to win that event by more than 12 feet.
“All my throws were consistent,” she said. “I didn’t get that one big one, like I had last week (139-7.5 in the Sub-Section 10 meet at Luverne May 24). But each of throws were pretty good.”
To complete her day, Zanini placed seventh in the lows with a time of 50.28, racking up 32 points between her four events.
Wilgenburg, Thier cruise to impressive wins
Wilgenburg qualified for her first-ever state track meet with an impressive win the 400-meter dash, clocking a time of 1:00.74 — winning by more than two seconds and almost breaking the 60-second barrier.
“I felt pretty good,” she said about her race. “My legs were getting heavy, but I just kept pushing and I never looked back.”
Wilgenburg credited her coach (Rex Metzger) and a weight training regime with giving her added strength to maintan her speed through the grueling home stretch of the quarter mile.
A bit late, Thier — who is a veteran of several state meets, both as an individual and member of AHS relay teams — put the hammer down early and literally ran by herself throughout the two-lap 800-meter run.
Thier won by more than six seconds, recording a time of 2:19.59, which is close to her all-time best.
“Coach (Doug Petersen) just told me to go out fast and run a 67 (second) opening lap and see if I could get a big lead,” she explained about her fast start. “It worked pretty well, as I never heard anyone behind the whole race.”
Thier actually completed the first lap in 66 seconds and maintained a smooth and strong stride all the way to the finish.
“This is the first time that I have ever won the section in the open 800,” she summed up. “So, I am pretty happy about that and am looking forward to running the race again next week.”
Thier had earlier run the anchor leg on Adrian’s second-place 4x800-meter relay team (10:00.65), which also qualified for Hamline.
Running the 800s prior to Thier taking the baton were Jordin Kopplow, Megan Sauer and Nicole Slater.
Motivational recordings, weight training helps Vongsavanh reach peak
Vongsavanh, who finished second at last week’s Sub-Section 9 meet in Windom, put it all together Thursday.
Running in lane two, the hard-working JCC junior had a good view of the people in front and went out fast, making up the stagger on several runners coming out of the first turn.
Then, utilizing a strong finishing kick, Vongsavanh pulled away and crossed the finish line first with a personal best time of 51.28.
“I was determined and just kept pumping harder and driving my legs,” he summed about the race’s last 100 meters. “Winning that race was a really good feeling.”
JCC cross country coach Brad Strom was in the stands on the backstretch and had a birds-eye view of Vongsavanh’ race and was cheering him on.
“Jason has really done things right,” Strom exclaimed. “He runs cross country in the fall and spends the winter lifting weights, building his strength for spring track.
“He also listens to lots of motivational recordings and really gets himself ready to compete.”
Vongsavanh later ran a strong leadoff quarter on JCC’s third-place 4x400-meter relay team (3:35.86), which finished third in a very competitive race.
Ben Kocak, Taylor Freeman and John Isaacson ran the other three legs for the Huskies.
Nepp, Thony combine to win four events for MCC
Nepp had an outstanding day for the Rebels, winning both the shot put (49-10) and discus (142-8), sending him to the state meet in both events.
Thony, likewise, won twice, as he finished first in both the 100-meter dash (11.27) and 200 (23.23).
He also advanced in the long jump (placing second, 21-1.5), while narrowly missing in the 400 (third, 51.57).
Kozlowski, who has run with Arrow relay teams in a couple of state meets — including a state champion 4x200 squad in 2010 — earned his way back to Hamline by winning the 110-meter high hurdles, clocked at 15.42.
Luverne’s 4x100 relay team of Jackson Winter, Matt Oehlerts, Weis and Bo Biever passed the baton smoothly and finished first with a time of 45.38.
Earlier, the Cardinals had finished second in the 4x200 (1:34.87) with the foursome of Winter, Daniel Muller, Ethan Rust and Biever.
Weis was second in the shot put (47-4.25), Rofshus placed second in the discus (139-10), LaFollette finished second in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (41.30), Gonzales was second in the 400 (51.41) and DeCock placed second in the triple jump (41-9) to complete the list of area boys’ state qualifiers.
DeCock also placed third in both the high jump (6-3) and long jump (20-9.75) to complete an outstanding all-around day with 20 points in his three jumping events.
Steele returns, Hohn, Van Dyke, Arfsten earn first state-meet trip
Steele, the defending Class A state champion in the girls’ shot put, qualified for a repeat state-meet trip by finishing second in both the shot (39-8.25) and discus (120-8).
Hohn qualified for the first time by finishing second in the 3,200 with her time of 11:39.28, utilizing a strong finish to pull away from teammate Madi Schandelmeier, who finished third (11:43.32).
“This feels great,” beamed Hohn after realizing she was going to run in the state track meet next week. “I’ve never made it in track before (she has run in the state cross country meet). The 3,200 has been so tough in our section, but enough people finally graduated, so this year I was able to do it.”
Van Dyke, who has been strong all spring the 300-meter low hurdles, clocked a time of 47.60 in her favorite event and earned a trip to Hamline with her second-place finish.
Arfsten, who has enjoyed a stellar all-around athletic career for RRC, cleared the pole vault bar at 8-6 and had fewer misses than the Windom tandem of Megan Muller and Kelcey Olson (who also each cleared 8-6) and will represent the section in that event next in St. Paul.
LHS 4x200 victory highlights girls’ relays
Luverne’s winning performance in the 4x200 relay (1:52.16) was the highlight of a good day for southern teams in the four relays.
The Cardinals’ quartet of Erin Sietsema, Kynzie Smedsrud, Naomi Dooyema and Tayla Peterson claimed the gold medals, while T-M-B (1:52.65) was a close second and also qualified.
Running for the Panthers were Sammie Gervais, Lauren Schaar, Kendra Nelson and Kelli Soupir.
MCC’s 4x100 team (Dunnevan Muldoon, Lydia Homandberg, Kara Homandberg and Hannah Schmidt) made good exchanges and sprinted to a second-place finish with a time of 52.21, just edging a fast-closing JCC team (52.24).
Julia Schumann, Jessica Voehl, Riley Schneekloth and Sydnee Donnelli ran for the third-place Huskies.
H-BC’s 4x400 team ran an impressive race from start to finish and qualified for the state meet with a second-place time of 4:14.11.
Running for the Patriots were Jenna Wilgenburg, Kayla Thone, Haley Van Wyhe and Siera Wilgenburg.
Complete results of Thursday’s Section 3A meet are available on the athletic.net website.
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