WORTHINGTON -- It’s probably best not to mention it at all, actually. The weather, that is.
Tradition dies hard at the Trojan Relays. Over the years, the annual high school track and field event in Worthington has had its share -- well, more than its share -- of yucky, rainy, cold weather. But for the past two years, the weather has been warm and sunny for the Relays. In 2018, in fact, competitors had to be reminded by their coaches to be sure to take water breaks.
We run the risk of jinxing Tuesday’s 2019 Trojan Relays if we ask for that same kind of weather, but the forecast is for mostly sunny skies. Let’s just leave it at that.
The 67th running of the Relays is set to begin at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and like every year there will be a bunch of regional prep teams lining up for the activity. Besides Worthington, Adrian is scheduled to attend along with Fulda, Hills-Beaver Creek, Jackson County Central, Luverne, Marshall, Murray County Central, New Ulm, Pipestone Area, Southwest Christian/Edgerton, St. Peter, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Windom Area.
Each year, the Trojan Relays are taken extra seriously by the competing teams, for various reasons. History, for one. But also timing. The event, set for the second week of May, is just the time of year when track and field athletes feel a sense of urgency. The Minnesota state tournament is scheduled this year for June 7-8 at Hamline University in St. Paul, so now’s the time to round into form.
For host Worthington, it is the third of three early-May meets coaches circle on their calendars. The Trojans took part in the Section 2AA True Team competition last Tuesday in Marshall, where the boys finished solidly in fourth place. Today (Saturday), the Big South Conference meet is in Waseca. And then, of course, the Relays counts as the third “big meet” for the local thinclads.
In 2018, the Worthington boys and Luverne girls captured Class AA Trojan Relays team titles. The Southwest Christian/Edgerton boys and girls prevailed in Class A.
With so many teams converging upon Worthington on Tuesday, so will many outstanding athletes. The Luverne girls, who’ve been dominant again this spring, will be bringing more than their fair share. Tenley Nelson is coming off of a pair of first-place finishes in the 2AA True Team meet, winning the 1,600-meter run in 5:12.14 and the 3,200-meter run in 11:26.33. The Cardinals’ 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams also earned firsts, in 52.27 and 4:08.99, respectively.
Fans won’t want to miss Luverne’s turn in the girls 4x800-meter relay. In 2018, the Cards won a state Class A championship in the event, and in the Howard Wood Relays last weekend, the same foursome that won state (Regan Feit, Jadyn Anderson, Nelson and Brooklynn VerSteeg) established a new meet record of 9:35.24.
Pipestone Area’s outstanding sprinter, hurdler and jumper, Michelle Neece, has been fighting through an early-season quad injury. The Arrow senior is the defending Class A 100-meter hurdles champion.
The Worthington boys got a strong second-place finish by Adam Koller in the boys 3,200-meter run at True Team (9:46.93), and the Trojans’ boys 4x800-meter relay squad got a first (8:22.76) in the same meet.