Section team titles mean plenty in track and field

Season concludes with this weekend’s state meet

Farmington’s Emma Record won the girls 100-meter dash at the Section 1AA meet and helped the Tigers win the team championship. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com

The main purpose of section track and field meets is for teams to get as many people to the state meet as possible, in as many events as possible. But there still are team trophies awarded, and that meant something to local teams that won them last week.

“We have some girls who are going on to the state meet this weekend, but for a lot of them the section meet was their last meet of the season,” said Rosemount girls coach Sara Hateli, whose team won the Section 3AA championship at Concordia University in St. Paul. “It was a great way for them to end their season, and as a coach it was good to see them get rewarded for the work they put in.”

The Irish repeated as Section 3AA champions in a season in which they qualified for the state True Team finals for the first time in 30 years and finished third in the South Suburban Conference. They have five individual qualifiers for the state meet in seven events, including standouts such as Alexys Berger and Shae Buchman, who could contend for first-place medals this weekend at Hamline University.

Lakeville South’s boys and Farmington’s girls won Section 1AA team championships Saturday at Lakeville South High School.

For the South boys, who successfully defended their team title, “it means a lot,” coach Jon Gilmer said. “We’ve had a good season, taking second in the conference and fourth at True Team state. But it’s great to win a meet like that, and we got a lot of kids into the state meet, so we accomplished a lot of what we set out to do.”

Lakeville South came in about 35 points ahead of second-place Lakeville North at the Section 1AA boys meet. In the girls competition, Farmington edged South Suburban Conference champion Lakeville South by two points. The Tiger girls won five events, including a sweep of the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races by Anna Fenske, the reigning state Class AA cross country champion.

The challenge now is getting the state qualifiers to peak at the state meet. That’s no easy task under ordinary circumstances, but this week the circumstances are anything but ordinary as most schools have their graduation ceremonies.

Lakeville South seniors will attend their graduation ceremony at 8 p.m. Thursday in downtown Minneapolis. That means the seniors that have qualified for the track meet won’t get home until after midnight – factoring in a stop at the all-night senior party – and have to be at Hamline University on Friday morning for the Class AA preliminaries, which start at 9 a.m.

“I’ve been coaching for 32 years and I think every year graduation has been the night before the state prelims or the night before the state finals,” Gilmer said. “These kids worked hard to graduate and they worked hard to get into the state meet. Our kids have told me they’re not going to stay out all night at the party. You have to trust them to make good decisions, and ultimately it is their decision.”

Rosemount’s Buchman is the top seed at state in the girls 100 hurdles, where South Suburban Conference athletes Natalie Windels (Eagan), Myiah Scott (Farmington) and Jenny Mosser (Lakeville South) are among the contenders. Windels is the top seed in the 300 hurdles.

Fenske is the No. 2 seed in the girls 3,200, which will be run at 9 a.m. Friday. Teammate Lauren Peterson is seeded fifth in the event. The two Farmington runners also are among the contenders in the 1,600 finals Saturday, an event where both medaled last year.

Lakeville South senior Madeline Moorhouse is the No. 2 seed in the girls shot put, and Rosemount’s Berger is the third seed in the girls high jump.

Not many Section 1AA athletes will have high seeds at the state meet because the section finalists dealt with hot, windy weather Saturday. Teams in Section 3AA, by contrast, finished their meet May 31 and had almost perfect conditions.

That helps explain why eight qualifiers in the boys 300 hurdles have faster seed times than Lakeville North’s Evan El-Halawani, the defending Class AA champion in the event.

In boys track events at the Section 1AA finals, “there was one kid who beat the state qualifying standard (Lakeville South’s Jeremiah Jacobson in the 200),” Gilmer said. “We haven’t looked at seed times all year. It’s a matter of being ready to compete on that day.”

Jacobson (100), Eric Rousemiller (shot put) and Noah Shafer (pole vault) are returning state meet medalists for a South team that could push for a top-three finish at state.

Eagan’s Ryan Steger is the top seed in the boys 800 and will anchor two Wildcat relay teams. Rosemount’s Trevor Otterdahl is a returning state medalist in the shot put and discus.

Finals in the 3,200-meter races and several field events will take place during Friday morning’s Class AA preliminaries. Finals will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, also at Hamline University.