Jayhawks take home first place
By Dan Timm
Journal Sports Writer
SAINT PAUL – The Madelia/Truman boys’ team had another impressive showing at the Class A State Track and Field Meet. After winning the 4×800-meter relay last year, their best chance this year was in the 4×400 meter relay. The relay team came in with a drive to win and got the job done.
A second place finish in the prelims may have been a blessing in disguise for the Jayhawks. It gave the top seeded team coming in a bit of a wakeup call and a chance to scout their competition.
“It was definitely a punch in the mouth,” anchor Adam Cooling said. “We just wanted to come and respond to that, because we knew we were better than that. That really showed us we needed to tune it up and not sit on that time that we had before, not think we were the best. We went out there and we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder to prove we were the best.”
They knew that getting a lead early was important, and leadoff runner DaMarko Thomas provided that. He gave the Jayhawks a slight lead, and Jon Whitney and Cade Eckstrom took it from there. The second and third runners opened up about a 25 meter lead over the second place team.
“Our coach really stressed the fact that getting out and getting a lead because they knew the other teams had a bunch of anchors that were just horses. That is what we were trying to do is get me a lead and those other guys provided that,” Cooling said. “I knew those guys gave me everything they had so I was gonna give them everything I had.”
Cooling was able to use that lead to hold off some very strong finishers from several other teams, solidifying the gold for M/T with a time of 3:23.30.
Redwood Valley’s team took seventh in the event.
The biggest surprise of the day also came from the Jayhawk team. Josh Johanson came into the high jump against some very strong competition. Even with a jump of 6-feet, 2-inches at his section meet, there were eight jumpers who had cleared higher at their previous meets. Johanson did not let the competition take his concentration away from his jump.
“Our coach said ‘Don’t worry about anybody else, just worry about you and the bar, and that’s what I did,'” Johanson said.
Despite never having cleared more than 6-feet, 3 inches in his career, Johanson cleared a jump of 6-feet, 5 inches to finish second in the meet, breaking his school’s record along the way.
He made a bold move and changed up his approach to try and gain a little bit of height.
“We did a different approach. We did a 10-step instead of an eight-step,” Johanson said. “It gets more speed on the curve.”
The competition lived up to expectations, with four other jumpers also reaching the mark of 6-feet, 5 inches. Johanson held the tiebreaker over all of them with the fewest misses at the previous heights.
Randy Juell of Redwood Valley took third in the event holding the next fewest misses. Lucas Hesser of Lake Crystal/Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet also participated, finishing fifteenth.
M/T’s 4×800-meter relay team of Cooling, Jacob Wolter, Whitney, and Eckstrom also placed, finishing in sixth. St. James Area placed ninth in the event, and Redwood Valley finished 15th.
Megan Eckberg from Sibley East had a strong showing in the girls’ 100-meter hurdles. She placed fourth with a time of 15.91 seconds running into a slight breeze.
“It feels really good [to finish fourth],” Eckberg said. “I didn’t expect that I’d get this far this year so its great.”
The junior worked hard to get better throughout the year and should be a contender again next year with continued improvement.
“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t really work on real specific stuff,” Eckberg said. “But towards the end, we worked on getting my lead leg down quicker and bringing my trail leg around faster.”
The Minnesota Valley Lutheran/New Ulm Cathedral boys’ 4×100-meter relay team also competed in the finals. Adam Schnobrich, Lukas Borgwardt, Seth Kroells, and Matt Tessmer took home a seventh-place finish after a long and challenging state competition.
“We did our best. That’s all we could do,” Tessmer said. “The competition is really tight, really fast. Everybody’s good so just to be here competing is an accomplishment in itself.”
Springfield/Cedar Mountain/Comfrey’s 4×200-meter relay team of Chaz Kleinschmidt, Alex Larson, Kleinschmidt, and Zach Wells came into the day with the sixth fastest time in prelims and fittingly finished sixth in the finals.
LCWM/N’s Evan Guffey entered the high jump with the seventh best jump at sections. His jump of 20 feet, 11 inches improved him two spots and got him a fifth place medal. Redwood Valley’s Randy Juell also improved two places from his seeding, finishing third with a jump of 21 feet, 3.25 inches.
Ryan Phillips of Redwood Valley finished fourth in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.83.
St. James Area’s Aryn Eckstrom finished 13th in the 1600-meter run.