Woodbury track & field: Royals boys take eighth in state
For the Woodbury boys track team it wasn't as much about the start of Saturday at the Class AA state meet as it was about the finish.
The Royals crowned a state champion in the long jump with senior Johnathan Osifuye taking the top spot with a jump of 22 feet, 3 inches, finished second in the 1600-meter relay with a school-record time of 3 minutes, 17.88 seconds and placed fifth in the 400-meter relay, improving on its sixth seeding.
Woodbury battled with Wayzata in the 1600-meter relay final in an entertaining end to this year's state meet. The Royals gained a slight lead after senior Abiola Abodunde's third leg and maintained it after Abodunde handed the baton to senior Matthew Waterhouse for the final leg. Waterhouse, who teammates dubbed "Psycho" for his mentality on the anchor leg, had to fight off Wayzata's Michael Smith, who earlier finished second in the 400-meter dash as an individual. Smith took the lead on the back stretch and pulled away to give the Trojans the title with a time of 3:17.06. Woodbury finished in 3:17.88, nearly two seconds ahead of third-place finisher East Ridge.
"My whole relay team said, 'Just go out there and don't let anyone pass you,'" Waterhouse said. "Of course, me being 'Psycho,' ... I just went crazy and kept it going."
Waterhouse, Abodunde, senior KeyShawn Lee and junior Oladipupo Lawal earned all-state honors - awarded to the top nine finishers in each event at the state meet - and set a new school record in the event by eight-tenths of a second.
"My goal was to put Matt in the lead so we could try and take it," Abodunde said. "I had to give him the biggest lead because we were going against (East Ridge's Nate) Roese and (Wayzata's Michael) Smith. Those two are tough so we had to give him the lead. Even though we didn't win, it was fun."
Roese won the 400 for the second consecutive year with a state-record breaking time of 47.56 seconds so there was plenty of competition for Waterhouse, who earned the nickname "Psycho" last season after passing another runner during the last leg of a 1600-meter relay and looking back at him.
In addition to the strong showing in the 1600 relay, Woodbury's 400-meter relay team of senior Quaran Al-Hameed, Abodunde, Waterhouse and Osifuye finished fifth, nabbing All-State, with a time of 43.29 seconds, .01 seconds behind fourth-place finisher Irondale. The relay came into the finals with the sixth-best qualifying time from Friday's preliminaries.
The two performances came following a disaster in the 800-meter relay, which started the day's events for the Royals. Woodbury did not complete the event after a botched exchanged resulted in a dropped baton. The Royals' relay team of Osifuye, Waterhouse, Abodunde and Lee entered the event with the best qualifying time of 1:28.56 after Friday's preliminaries, which established a new school record.
"It was disappointing because we came this far and everything was good and we just messed up," Waterhouse said. "That was our goal to beat Wayzata and it was just shocking that we dropped it."
Wayzata won the 800 relay in 1:26.92 to set a new Minnesota all-time mark. North St. Paul set the previous mark in 2012 with a time of 1:27.23. Woodbury's preliminary time still bested second-place finisher Osseo, which finished in 1:28.67, but no one knows how the Royals could have finished Saturday after dropping the baton.
At the state meet, teams are awarded points for finishing in the top nine places in each event. A first place finish garners 12 points, second place gets 10 points, third place earns eight points, and so on. The ninth place finisher earns one point.
The Royals finished eighth overall as a team with 27 points. Stillwater Area won the team title with 65 points and Forest Lake took second with 59.5 points. Wayzata finished third with 57 points.
In the girls state meet, the The Royals' 400-meter relay team advanced to state, but didn't reach the finals, taking sixth in their heat with a time of 50.11 seconds. That quartet comprised seniors Wakpor Ighovojah and Lisa Huska, junior Aleah West and sophomore Taylor Lundin.
Individually, Woodbury freshman Taylor Raines took 13th place in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 11 inches.
As a team, the Minnetonka girls won the state championship with 94.5 points.