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State track and field: Area's best begin Hamline quest

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Worthington Trojan Will Dudley works on the mechanics of his vault in preparation for the state Class AA track and field meet.

Les Knutson

Daily Globe

SAINT PAUL — Five area qualifying athletes are ranked among the leading contenders in their respective events as the 2014 Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) annual season-ending state track and field meet takes place today (June 6) and Saturday at Klas Field on the campus of Hamline University, near the state fairgrounds in St. Paul.

Windom Area senior Victor Ogeka enters today’s Class A boys triple jump competition with the second-best qualifying leap among the 16 participants, having hopped-skipped-and-jumped a distance of 43-11¾ to win the Section 3 gold medal at Redwood Falls May 29. Tony Ukkelberg, a sophomore from Ottertail Central, has the best qualifying distance at 44-1.

Luverne senior Cody Rofshus and Jackson County Central senior Nolan Hohenstein are ranked second and third, respectively, in the Class A boys shot put with distances of 54-1 and 53-3¼ recorded in the Section 3A Meet. Jayme LaPlante, a senior from Chatfield, tops the list with a mark of 54-10½.

Rofshus (153-9) is ranked fifth in the discus, while Hohenstein (143-8) is 10th. Tyler Kolander, a junior from Waseca, uncorked a throw of 177-0 in sectional competition, while LaPlante had a distance of 171-8.

The shot put finals are at 3:30 p.m. today, while the discus takes place at 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

Worthington senior Will Dudley cleared 14-0 in the Section 2AA Meet at St. Peter May 28 and enters today’s Class AA pole vault competition (9:30 a.m.) tied with Eden Prairie sophomore Benjamin Ose as the third seed. Hastings senior Wes Evansen (15-1) and Mankato East senior Calvin Deike (14-6) are the only two vaulters with higher sectional performances than Dudley and Ose.

Adrian senior Nicole Slater, a veteran of many state meets — in both track and cross country, is ranked third in tightly-bunched field of competitors in the Class A girls 1,600-meter run with six times under 5:15.

Slater ran a time of 5:14.08 at Redwood, which bettered the state-meet-qualifying standard of 5:14.47 and advanced her to compete at Hamline, despite finishing third in the section race behind Redwood Valley junior Kayla Huhnerkoch (5:09.35) and Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd senior Alaysia Freetly (5:12.90) who enter Saturday’s finals (5:09 p.m.) with the two best sectional times. Three others have qualifying times of 5:14.30, 5:14.41 and 5:14.68, respectively.

While those five performances rank the highest among individual area competitors, two Luverne relay teams are entering with seed times near the top, including both the girls 4x800 and boys 4x200.

Additionally, there are several other relay teams and individuals who will be seeking to earn medals and stand on the awards podium at Hamline as competition gets underway this morning.

Ochothow runs 110-meter

high hurdle prelims today

Among them are Worthington sophomore Gbrown Ochothow, who be running in lane 9 of the first preliminary heat of the Class AA boys 110-meter high hurdles, scheduled for 9:52 a.m. today.

Ochothow qualified by finishing second at the Section 2AA Meet in St. Peter (May 30) with a time of 15.90.

“Gbrown is really excited about getting the chance to compete at the state meet,” declared WHS assistant coach Cory Smidt, who works with the Trojan hurdlers. “He is very athletic and has worked hard at his technique, which — along with his natural ability and speed — has allowed him to become an excellent hurdler.”

Ochothow enters with the 16th-best qualifying time, trailing a pair of 15.73s and a 15.76 by a close margin. There are, however, five hurdlers who ran the event under 15 seconds to advance from sectional competition. Mounds View junior Matt Baker has the fastest-qualifying time with a 14.53.

“The competition will be outstanding, but the experience will be a great thing for Gbrown,” summed up Smidt, a Pipestone native who has coached numerous exceptional hurdlers at WHS — including Justin Miller, Shelby Eykyn and Brandon Berger — who have competed at past state meets.

Luverne will be running in five relays — three girls and two boys — and Mountain Lake Area qualified in both the girls 4x200 and the boys 4x400.

Windom will be running its boys 4x100 in lane 7 of heat 2, right next to Redwood Valley (lane 6) in today’s prelims at 4:50 p.m. with Ogeka running the anchor leg for the Eagles.

Cardinal boys 4x200 tied for

third-best seed time, 1:32.12

Luverne’s 4x200-meter relay team (Jackson Winter, Blake Richters, Trenton Rops and Dirk Thone) ran an impressive 1:32.12 to win the Section 3A Meet, highlighted by a tremendous anchor leg from Thone. The Cardinals will run in lane 5 of heat 2 in the prelims at 4:27 p.m. today.

Luverne is tied (with Waseca) for the third-best seed time, trailing only Rochester Lourdes (1:30.03) and Fairmont (1:31.63). Montevideo and Plainview-Elgin-Millville each ran a 1:32.68 in sectional meets, putting six teams under 1:33. The other 10 teams all have seed times between 1:33.48 and 1:34.70, as all 16 have run faster than 1:35.

“Obviously, both of those 4x200 heats are going to be close,” exclaimed LHS head coach Craig Nelson. “If we run well, we’re going to advance to the finals, if don’t we will be watching the finals on Saturday.”

Luverne’s 4x800 boys team will run in the first heat of Saturday’s finals (3:55 p.m.), entering with the 17th-fastest time (8:27.28) overall time.

MLA’s 4x400 team is ranked 11th in the 4x400 (3:33.13) and runs in lane 7 of the first heat in today’s prelims at 6:58 p.m.

Luverne girls’ 9:49 ranks

second in 4x800-meter relay

Luverne’s girls are ranked second among 11 teams (of 16 entered) who ran the 4x800-meter relay under 10 minutes in sectional-meet competition. The Cardinals foursome of Jadyn Anderson, Gabrielle Ferrell, Madi Schandelmeier and Makayla Hohn ran a time of 9:49.43 at Redwood, winning the race by nearly 14 seconds.

Waseca (9:42.57) enters Saturday’s finals (3:30 p.m.) with the fastest time, while Lake City (9:50.96), Litchfield (9:50.97), Fairmont (9:52.06), Park Rapids Area (9:52.15), Schaeffer Academy (9:52.16) and Holy Family Catholic (9:53.21) are all close to Luverne’s seed time.

“We are expecting a very close and competitive race,” stressed Nelson. “Each one of our four girls is going to need to run their best.”

Luverne is ranked ninth (among 18) teams in the 4x200 with its 1:47.66, while MLA enters with the 16th-best time (1:49.66). Luverne is 13th (out of 16) in the 4x100 with a seed time of 51.74.

Both Slater (11:48.94) and Ferrell (12:00.42) will compete in today’s 3,200-meter run finals (6:20 p.m.), seeded ninth and 10th, respectively among 16 runners. Emi Trost, a senior from Cannon Falls, ran a blistering 11:02.78 to win the Section 1A Meet. Ferrell is the only seventh-grader in the race and has a faster qualifying time than either of the two eighth-graders in the field.

Murray County Central senior Paris Thomas caps an outstanding career with the Rebels by competing in the 100-meter high hurdles prelims today (3:30 p.m.) and Pipestone Area sophomore Maria Spanier will race in the 300-meter low hurdle prelims (5:21 p.m.). Spanier’s qualifying time of 46.73 ranks a close sixth among 17 competitors.

Competing in girls field events are Tracy-Milroy-Balaton high jumpers Kendra Ludeman and Samantha Gervais, Windom pole vaulter Amy Muller, Luverne discus thrower Kami Sawtelle and Luverne shot putter Morgan Edwards.

Section 3A has the top two seeds in the long jump as Central Minnesota Christian senior Danielle Wubben (17-4½) and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton senior Jada Carr (17-1¾) both had exceptional leaps at Redwood Falls.

MLA’s Jose Gonzales

competing in three events

MLA senior Jose Gonzales will compete in three events at Hamline, as he anchors the Wolverines 4x400 and also qualified in both the 800-meter run (prelims at 5:51 p.m. today) and the long jump (finals at 3:30 p.m. Saturday). Gonzales advanced with performances of 2:01.53 and 19-9½, respectively.

Ogeka, the Section 3A long jump champion (20-½) will also compete in that event Saturday and T-M-B senior Matt Lavoy will run the 1,600-meter run finals, qualifying with a 4:40.78.

MLA senior Hunter Quiring participates in the pole vault today (3:30 p.m.) after qualifying with a personal record (by 18 inches) height of 12-7 in the Section 3A Meet, which is a four-way tie for eighth best.

MCC senior Tyler Scotting, who placed fourth in the state meet last year in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, will compete in the 110 highs this year (prelims at 3:42 p.m. today) after qualifying with a second-place time of 15.89 in the section meet.

Thone has the 11th fastest qualifying time, among 17 sprinters, in the 200-meter dash with his 22.95 (clocked at Redwood) and runs in the prelims at 6:08 p.m. today.

Finals in the girls high jump, discus, long jump and 3,200 are today, along with boys finals in the pole vault, shot put, triple jump and 3,200. All other finals will be Saturday, with Class AA starting at 9 a.m. and Class A events at 3:30 p.m.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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