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Southwest Christian boys triumph at Section 3 meet

REDWOOD FALLS -- Racking up 54 points in the three dashes, and tacking on 36.5 points elsewhere, Southwest Christians edged Montevideo, 90.5 to 88, to win the Section 3A boys' track and field team championship Thursday.

Eagle sprinters Nicholas Pfeifle and Jordan Spronk will get to race against each again next week, as both qualified for the state meet, which will be run June 6-7 at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Spronk, who missed several weeks in mid-season with a pulled muscle, has recovered well from his injury, as the the senior speedster won the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.58, just edging his junior teammate, who was clocked at 11.61.

Later, after getting second in the 400 meter dash (52.24), Pfeifle surged late in the race to win a very competitive 200 meter dash event in 23.43, while Spronk gave the Eagles another 1-2 finish, taking second with his time of 23.53.

"I am lucky to have some guys with some phenominal speed," SW Christian head coach Randy Pfeifle said near the end of the meet. "Nicholas and Jordan scored a lot of points for us -- but that was far from enough to win the championship. We needed lots of other good performances today too and we got them."

Eagle senior hurdler Brooks Knutson was also big, scoring 11 points for the Eagles with a pair of fourth-place finish in the 110 meter highs (17.39) and a fifth in the 300 meter intermediates (43.49).

Teammate Tyler Mouw contributed 10 points and qualified for the state meet by placing second in the shot put (46-8) and distance runner Ethan Spronk (fifth, 1,600, 4:54.09 and eighth, 3,200, 11:01.52) added seven points. A fifth-place finish by the Eagle 4x200 meter relay (1:38.61) gave the team another five points.

While the Eagle and the Thunderhawks were challenging for team honors, several other area teams had fine showings, including Worthington was was a close fourth in the team standings. MACCRAY edged the Trojans, 76.5 to 75 for third, while Tracy-Milroy-Balaton was a solid fifth with 68 points.

Rounding the top 10 (of 27 scoring teams) were Buffalo Lake-Hector/BOLD (55), Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd (54), Redwood Valley (44), Jackson County Central (43.5) and Yellow Medicine East (36).

While nothing will change at the top, some team scores will be adjusted as the pole vault was suspended due to the nasty weather conditions. The event will continue -- with 11 of the 16 vaulters remaining -- at 10 a.m. today in the indoor field house facility at Redwood Falls. None of the top four teams have a vaulter left in the competition.

Worthington received a pair of state-qualifying performances from its two winning relay teams. The quartet of Tom Mammen, John Mead, Adou Omot and Travis Pedersen scorched a time of 1:31.81 to win the 4x200 meter event by more than a second. Later, the same foursome held off strong challenges by T-M-B and YME to claim gold medals, clocked at 3:30.73.

"I knew he was coming (T-M-B anchor runner Drew Nelson), so I just put my head down, lifted my knees more and pumped my arms," described Pedersen after anchoring the mile relay to victory. I thought that John (Mead) really ran a nice second leg for us, putting us right up near the front and then Adou got us the lead."

Omot had earlier impressively won the 800 meter run, holding off a stiff challenge from LQPV's Ryan Swenson in what turned out to a two-man race at the front.

Utlizing long, smooth strides, Omot pulled away over the last 200 meters and won with a personal record time of 1:59.63 -- breaking the two-minute mark for the first time.

"Adou continues to get better," Trojan co-head coach Mike Traphagen said. "That was an impressive race that he won today."

While Omot qualified with a victory, seventh-grade teammate Ethan Spittle had a grand performance of his own, finishing second in the 3,200 with a time a personal best time of 10:31.08.

Spittle ran right with Redwood Valley junior Nate Thoeft (10:27.13) at the front pack for seven laps, before Thoeft pulled away on the last lap. Spittle, however, had a good kick left and nearly caught the Cardinal down the home stretch, while finishing a surprising 10 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher -- Adrian sophomore Jordan Pater.

"Ethan combines good speed with great endurance," praised Traphagen. "It's not often that a seventh-grade boy makes it to the state in track. He has done remarkably well for us in that event."

While Omot and Spittle will advance individually for the Trojans, Pedersen -- who has had a tremendous track career for WHS -- just missed twice. He finished third in the triple jump (41-10) and fourth in the 400 (53.09).

Other area individuals that qualified to compete at Hamline include T-M-B's Ryan Tholen (first, 1,600, 4:34.30), MCC's Tyler Wasberg (second, high hurdles, 16.36), JCC's Jason Cook (second, 300 hurdles, 42.13) and the one-two punch of Terence Reid (Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton) and Dalton Wall (Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin) in the long jump with respective distances of 20-9 and 20.7.5.