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Track and Field: Connelly, Armstrong 14th at state meet

Armstrong: Red Wing's Jasmyn Armstrong (middle) runs with the pack midway through the Class 2A girls 3,200-meter run at the state track and field championship meet Friday at Hamline University. Armstrong set a new school record with a time of 11:01.95. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

ST. PAUL – Nick Connelly had the kind of ability to medal at the state track and field championship. With a state-qualifying throw of 54 feet, 9 ¼ inches, Connelly was seeded seventh in Friday’s Class 2A shot put competition, and two feet separated Connelly from the event’s No. 3 seed.

But in hoping to get into the shot put finals, Connelly got too worked up trying to stay in the thrower’s circle, and that proved to be problematic.

“I’ve been scratching a lot; that’s been my biggest problem,” Connelly said. “I was so jacked and I wanted to throw far and place in this. I was thinking about those two things, and in throwing, you have to be relaxed and I was too hyped up and worried about scratching and I fell apart.”

Connelly got only one of his three throws to count, his first throw of 48-2, which put the Wingers junior in 14th place. Rosemount’s Payton Otterdahl won the shot with a throw of 61-1/2.

“When you start focusing on the scratches, that’s when you start getting yourself psyched out a little bit,” said Red Wing head boys track coach Tony Casci. “His plan was to go in and get a mark that would hopefully get him into finals and then gear back and go for a PR after that. His first one was a mark, so he had to push it a little bit and unfortunately he fouled out.”

The Wingers had another 14th-place finisher in girls distance runner Jasmyn Armstrong. Running in the first race of the day, the 3,200-meter run, Armstrong set a new school record with a time of 11:01.95. That time shattered the seventh-grader’s state qualifying time of 11:18.31. The winner of the 3,200 was Chanhassen’s Emily Castanias at 10:28.58.

“She was 18th out of 19 coming in, and she ends up 14th out of 19,” said Wingers head girls track coach Jesse Nelson. “We knew it was going to go out pretty fast, so our goal was to hang on and see how long she could hang on and pick off some girls in the later laps, and she did that. All in all, it was a great first state track and field experience for Jasmyn.”

In their final high-school track event, Darrick Jackson placed 15th in the 400 (50.77), and Aiden Winn was 16th in the 800 (2:03.13).

“All these guys, they tried their hardest. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort,” Casci said. “We usually have our peak day between that conference and section meet and we weren’t able to hold onto that peak as long as we wanted to.”

Casci continued, “Our goal this year was to get as many guys back to state as possible and we made the decisions to do that. (Aiden and Darrick) worked hard, especially this week with graduation and a lot of distractions.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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