Track and field: East Ridge impresses at Hamline in hectic weekIt was a busy week for the East Ridge, Park, and Woodbury track and field teams as the weather finally allowed for the boys and girls teams to compete in multiple events: the Hamline Elite event, the Spartan Invitational and the Wolfpack True Team Invitational.
By: Dan Mullen, South Washington County Bulletin
It was a busy week for the East Ridge, Park, and Woodbury track and field teams as the weather finally allowed for the boys and girls teams to compete in multiple events: the Hamline Elite event, the Spartan Invitational and the Wolfpack True Team Invitational.
The big show was April 29 at the Hamline Elite event, where athletes came from all over the state — including distant lands like Alexandria and Grand Rapids, and local ones like Eagan and Bloomington. It was a showcase, and in East Ridge’s case, an eye-opening one.
In the boys 800-meter relay, the East Ridge boys team — composed of Dayo Ogundepo, Val Huerta, Ezekiel Okeleye and Connor Lyons — won the event, beating out Brainerd with a time of one minute, 30.43 seconds. The team also placed second in the 400-meter relay, timing in at 43.36, just falling short to Edina and Gopher-recruit Devin Crawford-Tufts.
Huerta, a junior, said it was a demanding race that required teamwork and strategy.
“I ran the third leg and Connor (Lyons) gave me the baton,” said Huerta. “I saw two guys in front of me – a guy on the left and a guy on the right – and I hit the straightaway and my legs were burning, I started yelling, and just took off.”
It was a grueling day for East Ridge, who had earlier competed in a meet at St. Thomas, then drove down the street to Hamline, barely making the starting time.
“We got here like 20 seconds ago and we said we wanted to come out and win and that’s what we did,” said senior Okeleye, who ran the first leg.
After placing second in the 400-meter relay, Ogundepo, a junior who ran the last leg, said fatigue was a factor in the team not winning the event.
“I am extremely tired right now – this is my fourth race of the day,” said Ogundepo. “My legs are beat but we’ll get them next time.”
East Ridge head coach Shannon Rainey said he was proud of his relay team’s performance and thinks it can compete later in the season.
“At this point in the season I think we are looking pretty sharp,” said Rainey. “The fact that we can win the 4 x 200 boys relay in the middle of the season, and I don’t think we have peaked yet, so, we feel good. I said at the beginning of the season that we could take top three in the state.”
The East Ridge girls relay team placed eighth at the meet in the 800-meter relay, but Hannah Pignato said her team is improving.
“This meet was really hard and there are a lot of great teams here,” said Pignato. “But we ran our best and I feel like we improved and will improve more as runners in time.”
Neither Park nor Woodbury competed in the Hamline Elite Event.
Raptors' Ethier, Brown and Park's Alowonle and Sikich shine at Wolfpack Invitational
At the Spartan Invitational, held at Richfield High School Thursday, April 28, the treading was tough for Park High School as the girls finished sixth and the boys seventh. But all was not lost as Park freshman Sarah LaBrosse placed third in the triple jump with a jump of 33 feet, seven inches.
LaBrosse said her triple jump was great despite a stumble.
“I did really good in triple jump today,” said LaBrosse. “But I wasn’t really concentrated on my last jump and my leg gave out.”
Park coach Matt Maher said he was glad his team was able to get back outdoors and compete against similar competition.
“After a long, dismal week of rain and being back indoors, we’re just trying to get outside more consistently,” said “Maher. Today is one of those meets where you have to get as many athletes doing as much as they can.”
East Ridge also competed in the Spartan Invitational. The girls placed second and the boys, who were without its top sprinters, finished fifth overall.
East Ridge junior Nicole Ethier, who won the 400-meter dash, timing in at 1:00.17, got the Raptors off to a good start. Ethier also won the triple jump with a jump of 34-1.
At the Spartan invite, the East Ridge girls also swept both the 800-meter run and the 200-meter dash, while junior Nicolette Brown won the girls shot put with a throw of 33-7. Additionally, Raptors’ senior Kelsey Schnabel won the high jump with a jump of 4-10.
At the Wolfpack True Team Invitational, the Park boys placed third, sneaking past Forest Lake by 32 overall points while the Wolfpack girls placed fourth, just 28 points ahead of Woodbury, which finished fifth.
Pacing the Wolfpack was junior standout R.J. Alowonle, who won the boy’s 100-meter hurdles, timing in at 15.24 seconds; Alowonle also won the 300-meter hurdles, timing in at 40.42. Additionally, Alowonle placed second in the triple jump with a jump of 44-0.
Park junior D’Monte Farley won the boy’s 100-meter dash, timing in at 11.54 while also winning the boys long jump with a jump of 21-9. Dylan Smallidge, a sophomore, took second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.23.
On the girl’s side, Park senior Tessa Sikich won the discuss throw with a toss of 112 feet and 3 inches. Jerrilynn Koltveit wasn’t too far behind, throwing 107-11 to place second.
For the Woodbury girls, the Wolfpack Invitational provided a chance to see great improvement. Grace Rogers placed first in the triple jump with a jump of 35-7 and Emily Twohig won the 1600-meter run.
Woodbury girls coach Kaycee Moore said her team is showing great improvement.
“Our triple jumpers experienced great progress at this meet,” Moore said. “You could sense their competitive spirit, yet they still wanted each other to improve.”