Track: Jackson, boys' 4x800 headed to state
LAKEVILLE, Minn. - It took an entire season, but the Red Wing boys' 4x800-meter relay team found its right mix.
Sitting as the No. 2 seed in the Section 1AA championship meet Saturday at Lakeville South High School, the Wingers added distance runner Aiden Winn to lead the 4x800, along with Joppa Olone, Tanner Alms and Darrick Jackson in hopes of trying to send a relay to state.
The result was a near-record showing for the 4x800 foursome.
The Red Wing relay took second in the 4x800 to qualify for the state championship meet, running a time of 8 minutes, 6.70 seconds. The finish was .15 seconds off the Red Wing school record.
"They were very pumped up for the meet and they came out and performed much better than expected," said Wingers boys' track coach Adam Nelson. "We wanted to get the most kids to state as possible and it worked out great. Adding in Aiden, we dropped a lot of time, and the other guys dropped two seconds here and there.
"I would expect that they'll perform at a high level this next weekend and look forward to see if they break the school record this year."
Starting with Winn, Red Wing bolted out to a strong lead as he ran a split of 1:59.9, putting the Wingers out in the lead at the first exchange.
"What really helped is this year we focused on sprints at the end of races ... I knew that if I stuck within sprinting distance with those guys that I could outkick them in the last 200," Winn said. "I stuck with them and it felt good being in first place and getting us a good start."
Olone and Alms ran near-identical splits of 2:03.1 and 2:03.3, respectively, from the No. 2 and 3 spots, setting up Jackson with a strong push from the anchor spot. Jackson ran a split of 2:00.7, sealing the Wingers' spot at the state meet. Taking first in the 4x800 was Farmington with a time of 8:03.80.
"We come here and everyone drops time again ... it keeps getting better and better," Jackson said.
Jackson clinched a spot at state as an individual with a second-place showing in the 400 dash. But over the last 200 meters, Jackson looked in trouble as he was sitting in fourth place.
"I was supposed to start picking it up at the 200 mark, but I didn't until the 150, which is where everyone was getting concerned," Jackson said.
But the Wingers junior was able to pick up the pace down the final stretch, clocking in at 51.62 seconds, .19 seconds faster than the third-place runner, Tyler Lerbakken of Farmington.
"I'm excited to see how much I can improve," Jackson said. "I know for state I need to be breaking 50s. So far, my only goal has been to break the school record, which right now I'm tenths of a second away from."
Winn looked to get into state as an individual in the 800. But after a blazing time in his split in the 4x800, an exhausted Winn could only get seventh with a time of 2:01.25.
"After I ran that hard in the 4x8 and set a new PR (personal record), running that fast, I could really feel it in the 800 and the 4x4," Winn said. "My legs were tight, there's just no fuel in the tank for those two races. But I was just happy to get the team to state in the 4x8."
The Red Wing boys had another athlete on the podium as Nick Connelly finished seventh in the discus with a throw of 140 feet, 5 inches.
For the Red Wing girls, the top finish on Saturday came from the 4x100 relay team. The foursome of Shayna Ramstad, Meta Buck, first-timer Ashley Elford and Emily Stegora ran a time of 51.27. The No. 9 seed in the finals, the Wingers relay exceeded expectations, at least to the spectators in the stands.
"We're not surprised; we thought that if the girls put it together and ran a good race, that's what they could run," said Red Wing girls' track coach Jesse Nelson. "I'm very happy with how they all ran."
The 4x200 relay of Buck, Elford, Annie Turcotte and Stegora put in another strong showing with a fifth-place finish of 1:48.40.
Junior thrower Jennifer Salter went home with a medal, placing sixth in the shot put with a toss of 34-9 ¼. The shot put field included four throwers that qualified for the state championship.
"Jennifer placing sixth, that was another place-better-than-seeded type of thing," Jesse Nelson said.
Stegora capped off her day with a sixth-place running in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.55, a new personal record. Eighth-grader Elise Leise secured a spot on the podium with a time of 2:26.61 in the 800, good for eighth place.
The Minnesota State Track and Field Championship takes place at Hamline University in St. Paul with prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday.