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Mounds View chasing true-team titles on Friday
Both track and field teams from Mounds View High School have a state championship to compete for this week.
The Class AAA state true-team meet takes place Friday starting at 4 p.m. at Stillwater Area High School. Mounds View is no stranger to true-team success, but it has been a few years since either team has brought home the championship.
Mounds View’s boys team has won eight state true-team titles with the most recent one coming in 2007. Since then, the Mustangs have had a runner-up finish, three sixth-place finishes and last year took fourth.
Head coach Ross Fleming feels this year’s team is his best since 2008. The Mustangs took second that year and Fleming feels his team could reach that spot this year.
“It’s basically a battle for second place,” Fleming said. “Wayzata is the prohibitive favorite.”
Wayzata is the defending state champion and returns most of last year’s team members. Fleming said in all seriousness that the Trojans could compete against the teams in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Of the remaining eight teams in the tournament field, Fleming said five should compete for second place. Joining Mounds View in that group are Hopkins, Rosemount, Blaine and Stillwater.
Rosemount, Blaine and Stillwater all earned their state berths by winning their respective section meets. Hopkins finished second to Wayzata in Section 7 but claimed the wildcard state spot, which goes to the best section runner-up team.
Mounds View qualified for state by easily winning the Section 6 meet May 6. The Mustangs rolled up 1,007.5 points to outscore runner-up North St. Paul by more than 150 points.
The Mustangs got a strong showing from its hurdling crew at the section meet. Matt Baker won both hurdle races and Jalen Hallman was second in both. Kevin Duffy finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles and Michael Hoff took seventh in the 300-meter hurdles.
Mounds View also captured victories in a pair of relays. Ola Mustapha, John McMillan, Michael DeGroot and Tony Moga teamed up to win the 4x200-meter relay while Grant Delaune, Erik Sundberg, Devon McDonald and Grant Herbert took first in the 4x800-meter relay.
Hallman and Denis Li finished first and second, respectively, in the triple jump. Li ended up second in the long jump while Hallman was third. Baker added a runner-up finish in the high jump.
Mounds View’s girls team has won five true-team titles, including three in a four-year period ending in 2010. The Mustangs were fourth last year.
Co-head coach Aaron Redman sees a four-team chase for the championship this year. Joining Mounds View in that quartet are Lakeville South, Minnetonka and Prior Lake. Lakeville South is the two-time defending state champion.
“It will certainly require the best of every athlete and will definitely represent the best team in the state,” Redman said. “We’re really excited about the opportunity this Friday night.”
Mounds View secured its berth in this year’s state meet by winning its 10th consecutive section true-team title on May 6. The Mustangs scored 1,009.5 points and beat runner-up Roseville by 62 points.
Among Mounds View’s top performances at the section meet was a triple-winning effort from Olivia Fixsen, who won both hurdle races and the high jump. Other event winners included Paige Woldt (triple jump) and Britta Messerly-Menk (long jump). Natalie Nowatzke, Anna Solfest, Riley McGinnity and Christine Hessini teamed up to win the 4x800-meter relay.
Another strong area for the Mustangs was the throws. Mounds View dominated the shot put by taking the top three spots. Veronica Rasmussen won it and beat out runner-up Cassidy Smestad by six inches while Leah Klein was third.
Smestad picked up a victory in the discus, Klein was fifth and Cristi Oliver took sixth.
Brian Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.