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Mustangs cruise to section track titles
Two weeks ago, the track and field teams from Mounds View High School swept the team titles at the Suburban East Conference championships. A week later they did the same at the Section 5AA state qualifier.
The Mustangs' boys squad claimed the section crown by 47 points over runner-up Blaine. The girls did even better, outscoring Blaine by 83 for the team title.
Both teams also fared well in terms of advancing athletes to the state meet. They combined for 17 entries, with 11 going to the girls' team.
Five of the girls' entrants got to state by winning individual events at the section meet. Two of them came as the Mustangs swept the throwing events with junior Veronica Rasmussen winning the discus by two inches with a throw of 128 feet, 11 inches and junior Cassidy Smestad taking top honors in the shot put by 11-3/4 inches with a toss of 40 feet, 9-1/4 inches.
Mounds View took first in a third field event when junior Kayla Day won the pole vault by clearing the bar at 10 feet, seven inches. Sophomore Natalie Louderback's vault of 10 feet, one inch was good enough for second place and another spot in the state meet.
The other two section titles came in relays. Junior Mikayla Toninato, senior Nicole Geist and sophomores Annalee Blake and Rachel Boyer teamed up to win the 4x200-meter relay by more than a minute and a half with a time of 1:43.21.
Mounds View also won the 4x800-meter relay as juniors Christine Hessini, Nicole Wahlin and Anna Solfest and freshman Natalie Nowatzke clocked in at 9:30.59. Second-place Anoka wound up 0.63 seconds behind.
In addition to the two relay wins, Mounds View also put up a pair of second-place relay efforts to also qualify for state. Toninato, Blake, Geist and Boyer finished second in the 4x100-meter relay to Champlin by a mere 0.02 seconds.
In the 4x400-meter relay, Blake, Geist, senior Olivia Fixsen and sophomore Mara Balzer took second, finishing behind only Coon Rapids, which won the event by more than two seconds.
Fixsen and Toninato will also run in individual track events at state. Toninato made state in the 100-meter dash with a runner-up section finish. Her time of 12.66 seconds left her behind only Centennial's Jedah Caldwell, who won the finals by 0.21 seconds.
Fixsen made state in both hurdle races via her second-place performances. She was second to Alexandra Williams of Blaine in the 100-meter hurdles. In the 300-meter hurdles, she was second to Irondale's Julia Hayes, but was one of three runners who eclipsed the previous section record.
Like their female counterparts, the Mounds View boys team had a good day in the hurdle events at the section meet. Junior Matt Baker won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.53 seconds. Senior Jalen Hallman took third but his time of 15.03 seconds was faster than the qualifying standard so he will join Baker at state.
Hallman is also set to compete in the 300-meter hurdles at state after taking second in the event at sections. He edged Baker by one-thousandth of a second for second place.
Joining Baker as a section champion was junior Andre Hessini, who won the 1,600 meters by nearly three seconds with a time of 4:21.77.
Two other second-place performances gave Mounds View's boys team six state entrants. Senior Michael Hoff ran a sub-two-minute 800 meters, and his time of 1:58.81 was good enough to get him to state.
Mounds View also got a relay to state. The 4x400-meter foursome of seniors Ola Mustapha, Will Eggers and Tony Moga and junior Grant Herbert took second with a time of 3:23.43 to make state.
Hallman made a run at being a four-event state entrant but came up shy in two jumps. In the long jump, he missed the state-qualifying mark by 1-1/2 inches and in the triple jump he missed it by 4-1/2 inches.
The Knights didn't figure too heavily into the chase for the team section title, but they did get a state qualifier for each gender.
Eighth-grader Julia Hayes wasted little time announcing her presence as a serious contender. Hayes not only won the 300-meter hurdles but set a new section record with her time of 44.05 seconds. She beat the old record, set in 2010 by Mounds View's Kayla Sawtell, by 0.69 seconds.
The other Knight headed to the state meet is senior Joe Kelner, who is headed to state for the second consecutive year. He secured his spot this year by taking second in the pole vault with a top height of 13 feet, three inches. Only Spring Lake Park senior Grant Walter did better with a height of 13 feet, nine inches.
The Class AA state meet takes place Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Brian Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.