The East Ridge boys' track and field team did not qualify for the Class 3A True Team state meet or win a section title this season.
However, none of that mattered when the Raptors won the Class 2A boys' state track and field team title after a strong day for the relays on June 10 at Hamline University.
East Ridge won championships in the boys' 4x400 and 4x200 relays to bolster its team score. Marcus Haskins had a busy day as he was the anchor of the 4x400 and also won an individual state title in the 800.
Head coach Shannon Rainey said the Raptors are a team that is top-heavy with talent but not quite as deep as some other Class 2A teams. The talent paid off with a state championship.
"Everything came together today," Rainey said. "The goal was to win the 4x2 and the 4x4 because we knew we could do it."
The Raptors could smell state championships in the relays before the start of the Class 2A finals.
"I came in here with the guys on my team and said, 'We're not going in here to get second, we're not going for a PR, we're going to win," Haskins said in the middle of the state meet.
The 4x400 team of Jordan Headley, Collin Sieffert, Thibault Ceulemans and Haskins held off Mankato East to win with a time of 3:20.59.
The Raptors 4x200 team of Maxwell Ntege, Ceulemans, Sieffert, and Headley crossed the finish line in 1:27.17 to hold off second-place Hopkins by more than a half-second.
"One of the things that was driving me is I really wanted to do this for the team," said Ntege, who was the first leg of the relay. "We got into state, we got one of the top times, and all I wanted to do was keep driving."
Haskins credited coach Lloyd Ness for helping him develop a plan on how to run his 800. The East Ridge senior, who is going to Concordia-St. Paul next year for football and track, started in the middle of the pack for the first 600 meters but kicked it home over the final 200 to finish first.
"I stuck with the strategy and hung in there for the first 600 meters, and the last 200 I gave it my all," Haskins said.
The senior ran the 400 last year, finishing seventh at state, but switched to the 800 after seeing he would have a better opportunity to compete for a state title. In just his fourth 800 of the year, Haskins won the state title.
Sieffert made a move past two opponents to finish second in the 300 hurdles. East Ridge's Sieffert, who plans to join the track and field team at the University of Minnesota next season, was happy with the effort to finish second.
"I knew I was going to have to kick it in because they were ahead of me from the start," Sieffert said. "So I just kind of dug deep to see how far I could push it."
Weiss repeats as triple jump champion
Allyson Weiss has been shooting for a triple jump mark of more than 40 feet her entire season.
She finally reached her goal on June 10, and her reward was a second consecutive state title.
Due to some miscommunication by officials, Weiss ended up having two re-jumps in the preliminary round of the triple jump. It was on her second chance at a re-jump when she landed a jump of 40-feet, 1.25 inches.
After she had reached the mark, she celebrated with her family and head coach Kelsey Joson.
"I was so excited," Weiss said. "I ran over to my family and my coach. My coach was crying. We were both crying."
Winning an individual state title helped Weiss forget about a disappointing miss in the 4x200 relay.
Miscommunication kept the Raptors relay team from hearing instructions in the relay tent before the preliminaries due to not receiving a relay card. Then the Raptors were in the wrong exchange zone, leading to disqualification.
"It's okay, we were all disappointed, but we were going through it together," Weiss said. "So it was okay."
Ansley Schug made it to the podium in two events after she placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 14.50 and eighth in the 300 hurdles in 46.55.
A top-three finish was a pleasant surprise for the East Ridge senior who was making her first appearance at the state tournament.
"Third is completely beyond my expectation," Schug said. "It was fun. I had some awesome competition, and it pushed me really hard."
Alex Doty finished fourth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.09. The East Ridge senior was seeded eighth but ended up taking fourth in the finals. After reaching her first career state tournament, Doty credited offseason work for helping her advance.
"I've never been to state before, especially individually," Doty said. "So I'm excited."
On June 9, Alec Wittman also finished on the podium for East Ridge, finishing fifth in the pole vault after clearing the bar at 13 feet, 9 inches.
Woodbury had two relay teams finish on the podium June 10.
The 4x100 girls' relay team of Anna Muellner, Katie Henschell, Julia Pereira and Kaellyanna Mixson finished seventh with a time of 49.77.
The Woodbury relay team missed the state tournament last year, but this year they made it happen.
"We tried to make it our goal this year to run a little harder and hopefully make it," Mixson said. "We ended up making it, so we were proud of ourselves."
The boys' 4x800 team of Connor McMannes, Grant Wittman, Benjamin Reuter and Joseph Romain finished sixth in 8:03.73.