Eight Trojans prepare for state track & field meet
WORTHINGTON -- With both its 4x200 and 4x400 meter relay teams coming off impressive winning performances at the Section 3A track and field meet (Redwood Falls, May 29), the Worthington boys are hoping to make the award's stand Saturday at the Minnesota State High School (MSHSL) meet.
The elite event will be held in St. Paul at Hamline University, beginning at 3:00 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
After setting a new Trojan 4x200 school record in three consecutive meets, the WHS --quartet of Tom Mammen, John Mead, Travis Pedersen and Aduo Omot battled miserable weather conditions -- windy and rainy -- in the section meet and their school mark of 1:31.70, set in the Sub-Section 9 meet (Windom, May 22) still stands.
"The weather at Redwood was not the best," WHS co-head coach Mike Traphagen said in an understatement. "But the boys won the race and are advancing to the state meet -- in both events."
The Trojans clocked a winning time of 1:31.81 -- nearly breaking the record again and finished well ahead of second-place Yellow Medicine East (1:33.04).
In the 4x400, Worthington switches Omot to the third leg and has Pedersen run the anchor, but the results are the same -- Trojan victories.
Three times this season, WHS has clocked times under 3:30 in the mile relay, including a season-best 3:27 -- ran on a rare (this spring) perfect weather day at St. James in late April.
Worthington won the section with a time of 3:30.73, while a hard-charging Tracy-Milroy-Balaton team ran the event in 3:31.45 -- just missing the qualifying standard of 3:30.44.
"I felt bad for the second-place teams in both events because had the weather been better, those two (YME, 4x200 and T-M-B, 4x400) could have advanced by standard," Traphagen said. "We feel fortunate to have come through the section and are anxious to see what we can do at the state meet."
For the record, the Trojan 4x200 team did run under the state standard (1:32.43) in the section meet and the team is positioned well for Friday's preliminaries (3:47 p.m.) with the fourth fastest qualifying time.
Twelve teams will compete in the prelims with the nine fastest making Saturday's (4:10 p.m.) finals.
Five teams are coming in with qualifying times under 1:32, including the fastest clocking of 1:30.75, which was run by Glencoe-Silver Lake.
"Our handoffs have been good," says Traphagen, who points out that his co-head coaching partner Ken Henkels makes the relay changes. "Ken has made the needed adjustments to make this relay as smooth and efficient as it has become."
Mammen, Mead and Pedersen are all seniors. Omot, who is a junior, will also be competing in the 800 meter run -- after clocking an impressive 1:59.63 to win the section gold medal.
"We believe that Aduo has a good chance to run near the front," Traphagen said. "He runs to win and has great recovery between races, so the multiple runs should not affect him."
Omot will run in the 800 prelims Friday at 5:17 p.m. and will come back at 6::25 to run in the 4x400 prelims.
The 800 finals are scheduled for a 5:53 start time Saturday and the 4x400 concludes the meet at 6:32 p.m.
"If it goes well, Aduo will race six times those two days," noted Traphagen. "We hope that's what happens."
While Omot may run a pair of 200's, a couple of 400's and two 800's in the two days, seventh-grade teammate Ethan Spittle will compete just once -- at 6:05 p.m. Friday in the finals of the eight-lap 3,200 meter run.
A surprise state meet qualifier after running his first two-mile at the Trojan Relays (May 8), Spittle ran several impressive late-season races in that event, including his 10:31.08 second-place finish in the section meet.
Cham, Gerber, Mammen will compete individually
While much of the Trojan boys' focus will be on the relays, three WHS girls will concentrate on their respective individual events.
Senior Jenny Mammen -- Tom's twin sister -- will sprint in the 100 meter dash prelims at 3:20 p.m. Friday. If she qualifies for the finals, Mammen will run again Saturday at 3:50.
"Jenny is a strong finisher," praised Traphagen. "We are hoping that she can get a good start and maybe run under 13 seconds, which would give her a chance to make the finals."
Freshman Sarah Cham has won several meet titles in the triple jump this spring and has twice leaped over 36 feet.
Cham, like Mammen, was a second-place finisher at the section meet. Her qualifying distance of 35-4 is the fifth-ranked mark entering the meet.
"Sarah's been consistent," Traphagen remarked. "She could do quite well in the state meet."
Cham competes at 3:00 p.m. Saturday.
Sophomore Kaitlin Gerber won the section title in the 3,200 meter run (12: 07.6) and has state meet experience -- having competed in last fall's state cross country meet.
Gerber will run Friday at 5:50 p.m. in the two-mile finals.
"Kaitlin always competes well and we are looking for a season-best time from her," Traphagen said. "Her experience and her competitive nature will help Kailtin perform well."
A fourth Trojan girl --junior Anneli Dudley -- qualified by placing second in the pole vault at the section meet, clearing nine feet.
Dudley, however, is on a family trip to Germany and will not be able to compete at the state meet.