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Track and field: Worthington boys, Luverne girls win team titles in Luverne

LUVERNE -- Worthington High School co-head track coach Doug Brands wanted to tamp down expectations for the Trojans for Thursday's Cardinal Relays. "I told the kids yesterday at practice, it's a glorified practice," Brands said as he watched his ...

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Pipestone Area's Michelle Neece (middle) takes the final hurdle to win the 100-meter hurdles Thursday in Luverne. Others pictured (from left) are Hailey Handevidt of JCC, Anna Meyer of Worthington, Sommer Schaap of Southwest Christian/Edgerton and Camryn Bunting of Westbrook-Walnut Grove. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

LUVERNE -- Worthington High School co-head track coach Doug Brands wanted to tamp down expectations for the Trojans for Thursday’s Cardinal Relays.

“I told the kids yesterday at practice, it’s a glorified practice,” Brands said as he watched his team compete in Luverne in the squad’s first real meet of the season. “We’ve only been on our track this spring for four actual practices.”

A late winter has played havoc with every team’s spring schedule. But despite the fact that there were all sorts of kinks to work out on a cold, overcast Thursday, the Trojans did quite well for themselves.

Worthington placed first in the team standings of the 10- team boys meet, scoring 158 points compared to second-place Jackson County Central (109) and third-place Southwest Christian (103). Firsts were turned in by Trojans Adam Koller in the 3,200-meter run (10:46.72), Obang Ojulu in the 110-meter hurdles (15.94), Emmett Bicket in the triple jump (39-02), and Bryce Olsen in the shot put (42-05.5) and discus (118-08). The WHS boys 4x800-meter relay team of Koller, Christian Lietz, Jordan Melendez and Andrew Huber won that event in 9:07.74.

On the girls’ side, Luverne demonstrated its early-season dominance with a 174-point first-place total. Pipestone Area was second with 101 points, Southwest Christian had 92 points and Worthington scored 89.5. There were nine girls teams.

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Luverne swept all four of the girls relay races, coming in at 54.05 in the 4x100, 1.55.49 in the 4x200, 4.24.30 in the 4x400 and 10:27.86 in the 4x800.

In the very first running event of the day, the girls 4x800, Cardinals Brooklyn VerSteeg, Regan Feit, Gabrielle Ferrell and Tenley Nelson lapped the field. Missing from the event was junior Jadyn Anderson, who was nursing a minor injury. Anderson helped LHS to sixth place in the state 4x800 and ninth place in the 4x400.

“We’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have great depth and quality. The 3,200 is our go-to. The girls love to compete in it,” said Luverne head coach Pete Janiszeski. “We prepare ourselves for the 3,200 meter, and then we go from there.”

Shaking off the rust on Thursday was Pipestone Area boys’ standout Tyl Woelber, who won a state Class A high jump championship last summer as a junior. In his first meet of 2018, Woelber set a new meet record with a 22-00.5 result in the long jump. He later won the high jump competition by going 6-0. He was part of the boys’ first-place 4x200-meter (1:35.00) and 4x400-meter (3:39.67) relay teams.

“I feel good right now,” Woelber said after finishing his attempts in the long jump. “Doing a lot of hard work in practice. Haven’t been running much indoors. It’s hard on the shins.”

Woelber said he wasn’t completely satisfied with his long jumping.

“Not where I wanted it to be. But good. First time jumping into the pit -- get the kinks out,” he said.

Meanwhile, Worthington’s Ojulu looked pretty smooth -- considering the circumstances -- in winning the 110-meter hurdles (he placed second later in the 300-meter hurdles). Brands, watching from the infield, said his fine hurdler looked like he won it on experience.

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Ojulu, however, was not particularly impressed.

“Only getting two days practicing hurdles outside. I’m not pleased. Definitely room for improvement. But I’m definitely happy to be out there running,” he said while wrapping himself tightly in a pink blanket at the team’s camp-out area.

The Jackson County Central boys achieved firsts with Matt Stubbe in the 200 meters (24.00), Damien Van Westen in the 400 meters (52.47) and Isaac Johnson in the 300-meter hurdles (42.02).

Outside of Woelber’s accomplishments, Pipestone Area got firsts from Carter Nesvold in the 100 meters (11.41), Devin Tinklenberg in the 800 meters (2:09.40) and those two relay teams.

Nathan Runck of Westbrook-Walnut Grove won the 1,600-meter run in 4:57.51. Jedidiah Dooyema of Luverne won the pole vault (12-0). The Hills-Beaver Creek 4x100-meter relay team was a  winner in 47.64.

Luverne’s VerSteeg won the girls’ 400 meters in 1:03.15 and the high jump at 4-10, and teammate Nelson won the 1,600-meter run in 5:42.00.

Pipestone Area’s Michelle Neese was a double-winner, winning the 100 meters in 12.81 and the 100-meter hurdles in 15.37. Arrow teammate Angel Martens won the 3,200-meter run in 13:14.28, and another Arrow, Zoe Velde, went 33-01 to win the triple jump.

Worthington got a first-place finish from Taylor Eggers in the event she competed at state in last year, the 200 meters (27.15). Trojan Emma Thuringer won the long jump by going 15-05.

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Kourtney Rozeboom of Hills-Beaver Creek won the shot put with a 39-04.50 throw, and the discus with an 89-02.50 toss. Southwest Christian’s Kaitlyn Schuur captured the pole vault by going 8-06.

The complete Cardinal Relays results are online at www.athletic.net .

Related Topics: TRACK AND FIELD
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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