STATE TRACK AND FIELD: WHS boys take early control after first day

ST. PAUL -- A trio of top three performances Friday afternoon by Worthington boys have propelled the Trojans to a commanding early lead in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) state track and field meet at Hamline University.

ST. PAUL -- A trio of top three performances Friday afternoon by Worthington boys have propelled the Trojans to a commanding early lead in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) state track and field meet at Hamline University.

Sophomore Mubarik Musa raced to a strong second-place finish in the 3,200-meter run, junior Jordon Bents powered his way to a third-place medal in the shot put and junior Brandon Berger leaped his way to the third best distance in the triple jump.

Meanwhile, Southwestern United junior Katey Granstra was impressive -- showing remarkable consistency -- as she claimed a second-place silver medal in the girls' discus.

Luverne senior Callen Sawtelle rallied with a big throw in the finals to place third in the same event and Pipestone Area junior Bree Woelber gave the area a total of six top three individual performances -- so far -- by capturing the bronze medal in the girls' long jump.

Competing under cool and overcast conditions at Klas Field, 20 athletes from the Daily Globe coverage area qualified for today's finals by performing well in Friday's preliminaries.


Just four events in both the girls' and boys' meet had finals Friday, with the remaining 14 events scheduled for a 3 p.m. start time today.

On a 12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system based on the top nine places in each event, Worthington racked up 26 points Friday -- 10 from Musa and eight each from Berger and Bents -- which is 14 more than four teams (Eveleth-Gilbert, Concordia Academy of Roseville, Mayer Lutheran and Mounds Park Academy) who all have 12 points.

LeSueur-Henderson, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd and Milaca each scored 10 points on opening day.

"We scored well (Friday) in events that we had guys competing in," summed up WHS co-head coach Ken Henkels about the big Trojan lead. "We have three more chances to score points (Saturday) and if we can get at least a couple high placings, we could end up with over 40 more points, which is sometimes enough to win the meet."

The Trojans will get two early chances to add to their lead, as Berger qualified for the 110-meter high hurdle finals and Musa will be competing in the 1,600-meter run.

Worthington's third chance to score will come at the end of the meet when the all-junior quartet of Jeremy Clark, Naakoo Omot, O.J. Ojullu and Will Collin will line up for the finals of the 4x400-meter relay.

Berger advanced by winning his heat with a time of 15.25 seconds -- the fifth-fastest qualifying time -- and will be joined by area hurdlers Shandon Jones (senior, Pipestone Area) and Dalton Kirk (senior, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton).

Jones won his heat with a 15.11, which was the second-best qualifying time, while Kirk finished fourth in the same heat and tied for seventh overall with a time of 15.30.


"That speaks high for the quality of hurdlers from our section," Henkels said. "The girls' race was even more dominant by our area."

In the day's first race on the track, Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin junior Jennie Romsdahl won the 100-meter high hurdles by a large margin, clocking an impressive 15.12, which ended up being the fastest time run in the three heats.

"That felt good," Romsdahl said of her race. "I was relaxed and was able to run a clean race with good rhythm over the hurdles."

In the next heat, Woelber (15.13) and Luverne junior Katlyn Sawtelle (15.23) finished one-two and recorded the second and fourth fastest prelim times, respectively. Mayer Lutheran senior Cally Strobel won the third heat, clocked at 15.16.

Bents, who had a throw of 51-6 ¼ on this second toss, later reached a distance of 53-¼, which moved him from fifth to third and gave WHS its first medalist performance of the day.

"I'm really happy," exclaimed a pumped up Bents as he came off the awards stand Friday. "That (53 feet) was the best that I've had for awhile. I got one good one in and then I was able to just let it all out after that -- kind of one last big hurrah, here at state. I am already looking forward to working my way back here next year. I will keep lifting weights and continue to work on my technique."

After qualifying for the high hurdle finals, Berger went to the triple jump pit and was able to hop-skip-and-jump a distance of 43-5, which earned him the third-place medal.

Fulda senior Devin Kuehne also made the awards stand in the same event, leaping 42-4 and scoring six points for the Raiders with a fifth-place performance.


Woelber, meanwhile, soared a distance of 17-8 ¾ to earn third place in the long jump, giving the Arrows eight points. She later advanced -- as did three other girls from Section 3 -- in the 300-meter low hurdles.

Southwest Christian senior Kayla Broekhuis won the first heat (45.83) and ML/B-O junior Kaitlin Feil (who tumbled over the final hurdle in the highs) also qualified for today's finals, placing fourth in the same heat with a time of 46.50.

Woelber (45.56) and Katlyn Sawtelle (45.96) finished two-three in the second heat, behind Strobel (44.17), as the four Section 3 hurdlers are ranked two, three, five and eight, respectively, for the finals.

Earlier, PA's 4x200 relay team -- Colin Cooper, Aaron Kozlowski, Jones and Casey Kooiker -- qualified for the finals after finishing second in the second heat, clocked at 1:30.99, which was the second fastest overall time.

Luverne sophomore Paige Nath utilized a strong finish to advance in the 400-meter dash, placing third in the first heat with a time of 1:00.15, which was seventh best overall.

Granstra, Callan Sawtelle place 2-3 in discus

Meanwhile, Granstra and Callan Sawtelle were earning state medals in the discus.

Granstra, who entered with the fifth-best section meet seed distance (118-10), uncorked a throw of 119-6 on her first effort in the circle.


Her next throw sailed well past the 120-foot mark, measuring 123-9. Granstra also bettered the mark on her third effort, reaching 120-5.

While she was not able to duplicate those distances in the finals, her 123-9 stood up, giving her second-place and 10 points -- which has SWU currently in a four-way tie for fourth in the team standings.

"It's pretty exciting," declared a jubilant Granstra about her performance. "The experience of throwing here last year helped. It didn't seem as intimidating this time."

Granstra's performance put the capper on an outstanding all-around spring for the talented athlete, who also scored lots of points for the Wildcats in the shot put. She placed fifth in the discus at last year's state meet.

While Callan Sawtelle was not as consistent as Granstra was on Friday, the hard-working Cardinal came through with clutch performances -- twice. Struggling on her first two throws, she managed a whirl of 111-3 to make the finals. Given another chance, the multi-sport athlete -- who has overcame a pair of prior season-ending injuries -- sailed the platter 121-11, which was good for third place.

"That's typical of the type of athlete and kind of kid that Callan is," praised LHS head coach Craig Nelson about Sawtelle's effort. "She almost didn't make the finals, but then she ends up getting third. That's a pretty remarkable comeback."

Sawtelle, along with Windom sophomore Hannah Steele, are among the favorites in today's shot put.

Perham senior Elisa Moenkedick had a best throw of 140-6 to claim the discus gold medal.


Cook, Kemper, Thier all advance in 800

Back on the track, the 800-meter prelims were being run and Section 3 athletes performed well.

Worthington freshman Lydia Kemper utilized a blazing finishing kick to place third in the girls' first heat with a time of 2:19.73.

"It was a tough race," Kemper said. "I almost got boxed in, but I found a gap at the end and just used everything I had to pass that last girl."

Adrian's Austyn Thier also qualified for the finals, finishing fourth in the second heat with a 2:19.24.

A few minutes later, Justin Cook took the lead on the second lap and finished a strong second (to LQPV/D-B's Ryan Swenson) in the first heat of the boys' race. The JCC junior was timed at 1:58.13 -- more than four seconds faster than the winning time in the second heat.

While the area qualified a trio of runners in the 800, none of the five sprinters in the 200 advanced.

Windom senior Abby Luitjens ran a personal record time of 26.33, but missed the finals, as did Romsdahl (26.88).


In the boys' 200, Luverne senior Greg Muller (23.06), Cooper (23.23) and Kooiker (disqualified) were all unable to advance.

Earlier, Luitjens just missed the finals in the 100, after running a PR time of 12.75, which was the 10th best performance, only missing ninth by .03.

Luverne eighth-grader Jon Ehde improved his section time of 11.58, running an 11.46, but finishing seventh in the first heat of the boys' 100.

Collin was sixth in the first heat of the boys' 400, clocked at 52.02, but finished 15th overall among 18 state qualifiers.

JCC junior Marc Strom finished 16th in the 3,200, running a time of 10:19.87, nearly four seconds better than his sectional second-place effort.

Worthington freshman Tara Svalland cleared the high jump bar at 5-0 and finished in a four-way tie for 10th, as each of the nine medalists made 5-2 or higher

Windom senior Lindsay Elston (14-11 ½) competed in the girls' long jump and Murray County Central senior Alex Peterson did not clear a height in the pole vault.

Musa nearly wins; Trojan 4x400 advances

After Whitney Wilgenburg, a sophomore running for the combination of Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton, utilized a strong kick to claim an eighth-place medal in the girls' 3,200-meter run (11:37.96), Musa took the track for the boys' event.

Keeping pace with the pack, Musa made a move and took the lead on the third lap. He then settled in behind Mounds Park Academy junior Mason Ferlic and Minnehaha Academy senior Jake Brown.

By the middle of the sixth lap that trio had pulled away from the pack. Musa moved into second (behind Ferlic) at the end of the sixth lap, hitting the mark at 7:13.

As the seventh lap unfolded, Brown was unable to keep the pace and the event became a two-way race with Ferlic leading and Musa chasing.

That's the way it stayed, until Musa made a hard charge at the finish, nearly catching his much-taller opponent -- but not quite.

Ferlic was clocked at 9:27.62 and Musa was timed at 9:27.65. Brown held on to third with a time of 9:35.15.

"That's my fastest time ever," said a disappointed Musa after the race. "My strategy was to be right there with the leader with a half-mile to go and then give it everything I had, which I did. But, I just couldn't catch him."

"Mubarik ran a great race," praised Henkels. "He nearly caught a great runner -- with very long legs -- with a tremendous effort."

As far as today's 1,600?

"I am excited for it," Musa declared. "I am pumped up and ready to run again. I need to get some more points for my team."

After Musa's exciting race, the Trojan 4x400 team qualified for the finals by finishing second in the second heat, clocked at 3:28.23, which was the fifth-fastest of the nine advancing times.

"That was a nice run by all four guys," declared Henkels. "Jeremy got us off to a good start, Naakoo went out fast and really brought us along, O.J. had a great finish and Will always gives us a solid quarter and brought us from fourth to second with his closing effort."

The fastest 4x400 time was turned in by Section 3 champion LQPV/D-B with a sizzling 3:23.94, while running away with the first heat.

Morris Area won the second heat (3:26.02), while the other qualifying times range from 3:27.29 to 3:29.14. Section 3 runner-up MACCRAY/ Renville County West failed to make the finals, running a 3:30.22 and finishing sixth in Worthington's heat.

"It's going to be a close and competitive 4x400," Henkels concluded. "We are happy that we have the chance to run in that race."

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