Boys track and field: Stillwater repeats as section champs

By STUART GROSKREUTZ
stuart.groskreutz@ecm-inc.com

OAK PARK HEIGHTS – Defending its state championship has become more difficult, but the Stillwater boys’ track and field team was able to savor another Section 4AA championship on Thursday at Pony Stadium.

The Ponies racked up 137 points to hold off second-place North St. Paul (119.5) and third-place White Bear Lake (114.5) and provide the 22nd section championship in 31 seasons for Stillwater head coach Scott Christensen, who was named Section 4AA Coach of the Year. It also marked the 42nd section title overall – including True Team – for the coach when combined with his 20 section crowns in cross country.

"We’re happy we won the meet, it’s something we shoot for," Christensen said. "It’s probably the third most important meet on our schedule between True Team state and True Team section."

Stillwater also qualified eight athletes for a total of seven entries in the Class AA state meet on June 8-9 at Hamline University. An injury to junior Nate Ricci, who was a key contributor for last year’s state championship team, provided an unexpected blow to the team’s hopes next week.

Ricci tweaked a leg injury in the 4×200 relay and failed to earn a repeat trip to state in the long jump and was unavailable for the 4×400 relay as well – events the Ponies were hoping to gather points in at state.

"I didn’t expect Nate Ricci to get hurt," Christensen said. "That could have killed us (as far as the section) and it is for state."

The Ponies qualified two runners each in the longest distance races, with Eric Colvin providing the lone section title with a win in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:23.49. Wayde Hall finished second in the event (9:23.87) to join him at state.

Hall (4:16.92) was also Stillwater’s top finisher in an exciting 1,600-meter race that produced four state qualifiers after Stillwater’s Tom Linner (4:17.86) and Cretin-Derham Hall’s Kevin Docherty (4:17.95) qualified on standard. White Bear Lake’s Joel Reichow held off Hall at the tape with a winning time of 4:16.47. Sean Bjork narrowly missed out on a state entry while placing fifth in a time of 4:21.91.

"(Hall and Linner) improved their personal bests at Stillwater and moved further up the food chain with the good milers we’ve had here," Christensen said. "It’s just a case of Joel Reichow found the sweet spot where he could control the tempo and hold them off. It doesn’t matter if you’re a horse, a car or a person, he slipped right into that sweet spot and was in perfect position."

Linner had a busy night for the Ponies as he also placed second in the 800 meters – and event he placed fourth in at state a year ago – with a time of 1:58.02 and also ran on Stillwater’s 4×400 relay team.

"I told his mom to let him sleep in (Friday)," Christensen said. "He’s a tough nut. He doesn’t look like a tough kid when you talk to him or spend time with him, but when you get him on the track he is tough."

Stillwater qualified for state in the 4×800 relay with Josh Choe, Evan Johnson, Eric Corcoran and Eric Colvin placing second in a time of 8:10.64.

Connor O’Neill won the pole vault on Tuesday with a height of 13-5 and Nate Bird qualified for state in the discus with a second-place effort of 149-9.

The Ponies nearly had a surprise entry in the 300 hurdles after Kevin Meads improved several spots from prelims to place third with a time of 40.08 – just .12 seconds out of second place.

"I’ve said in the past it’s pretty hard to surprise me and pretty hard for me to say wow, but the closest to that I think came from Kevin Meads," Christensen said. "Kevin ran great and was a great surprise. He far exceeded my expectations."

Makao Day also finished third in the 400 meters with a time of 50.49 to narrowly earn a state bid in that event.

Team standings

1. Stillwater 137; 2. North St. Paul 119.5; 3. White Bear Lake 114.5; 4. Roseville 105; 5. Woodbury 96; 6. St. Paul Central 69; 7. Mahtomedi 60; 8. East Ridge 54; 9. Cretin-Derham Hall 51.5; 10. Tartan 36; 11. St. Paul Highland Park 31; 12. St. Paul Como Park 15; 13. Hill-Murray 14; 14. St. Paul Harding 7.5; 15. Minneapolis Roosevelt 4; 16. St. Paul Johnson 3.

Individual results

State qualifiers, Stillwater finishers

100 – *1. Travis Griffin (NSP) 10.84; *2. Tristen Lawrence (Tar) 10.91; *3. Elijah Campbell (SPC) 10.92; *4. Elvis Barclay (Ros) 10.94; *5. Paul Akintade (SPHP) 11.11. Prelims: 23. Erroll Williams (St) 11.97; 35. Caleb Fick (St) 12.34; 36. Jackson Thiets (St) 12.40.

200 – *1. Keelon Brookins (Tar) 21.94; *2. Elvis Barclay (Ros) 22.21; *3. Nathan Roese (ER) 22.24; *4. Quentin Mann (NSP) 22.45. Prelims: 11. Mitchell Schertz (St) 23.85; 16. Zack Smith (St) 24.01; 26. Jordan Phelps (St) 24.77.

400 – *1. Nathan Roese (ER) 48.68; *2. Matthew Waterhouse (Wo) 50.06; 3. Makao Day (St) 50.49; Nate Ricci (St) scratch. Prelims: 14. Larry Lorbiecki (St) 54.62.

800 – *1. Eric Gebeke (WBL) 1:52.23; *2. Tom Linner (St) 1:58.02; 8. Zach Bigaouette (St) 2:02.90. Prelims: 16. Ethan Anderson (St) 2:09.60.

1,600 – *1. Joel Reichow (WBL) 4:16.47; *2. Wayde Hall (St) 4:16.92; *3. Tom Linner (St) 4:17.86; *4. Kevin Docherty (C-DH) 4:17.95; 5. Sean Bjork (St) 4:21.91.

3,200 – *1. Eric Colvin (St) 9:23.49; *2. Wayde Hall (St) 9:23.87; 10. Eric Corcoran (St) 10:17.75.

110 hurdles – *1. Emeche Wells (Ros) 14.80; *2. Otto Sanchez (NSP) 15.00; *3. Wyatt Lemon (WBL) 15.13; 8. Kevin Meads (St) 15.63. Prelims: 11. Geoff Berg (St) 16.37; 25. Alex Klein (St) 20.32.

300 hurdles – *1. Davis Johnson (Wo) 38.87; *2. Otto Sanchez (NSP) 39.96; 3. Kevin Meads (St) 40.08. Prelims: 19. Alex Klein (St) 45.17.

4×100 relay – *1. North St. Paul, 42.83; *2. Roseville, 42.96; *3. Woodbury, 43.18; 9. Stillwater (Jackson Thiets, Jordan Phelps, Erroll Williams and Michael Liddell) 46.58.

4×200 relay – *1. North St. Paul, 1:28.11; *2. White Bear Lake, 1:29.00; 4. Stillwater (Makao Day, Jordan Phelps, Zack Smith and Nate Ricci) 1:31.31.

4×400 relay – *1. Woodbury, 3:21.79; *2. Roseville, 3:23.95; 4. Stillwater (Makao Day, Mitchell Schertz, Tom Linner and Zack Smith) 3:27.20.

4×800 relay – *1. Mahtomedi, 8:03.16; *2. Stillwater (Josh Choe, Evan Johnson, Eric Corcoran and Eric Colvin) 8:10.64.

Long jump – *1. DeAntre Smith (Ros) 22-3 1/2; *2. Paul Akintade (SPHP) 22- 3/4; *3. Elijah Campbell (SPC) 21-9 3/4; 4. Nate Ricci (St) 21-7. Prelims: 14. Jordan Phelps (St) 19-8 3/4; 23. Zack Smith (St) 19-2 3/4.

Triple jump – *1. Elijah Campbell (SPC) 45- 3/4; *2. Abiola Abodunde (Wo) 44-10 1/2. Prelims: 11. Connor O’Neill (St) 40-10 1/2; 21. Nicolas Wanovich (St) 37-5 1/2; 25. Michael Liddell (St) 36-6 3/4.

Shot put – *1. Hunter Books (NSP) 50-11 1/2; *2. Brian King (WBL) 50-8 1/2; 7. Alex Burbach (St) 45-5 1/2; 10. Ricky Pearson (St) 42-4 1/4. Prelims: 15. Austin Conery (St) 40-5.

Discus – *1. Jason Kuennen (Mah) 154-10; *2. Nate Bird (St) 149-9; 7. David Peterson (St) 131-11. Prelims: 22. Kyle Kazmierczak (St) 110-9.

High jump – *1. DeAntre Smith (Ros) 6-6; *2. Jack McMahon (C-DH) 6-5; 9. Josh Johnson (St) 5-11; 10. Isaac Hale (St) 5-9; 10. Mark Portz (St) 5-9.

Pole vault – *1. Connor O’Neill (St) 13-5; *2. Allen Swenson (ER) 12-11; 6. Sean Tompkins (St) 11-11; 11. Tony Giebel (St) 10-5.

* state qualifier

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