Moorhead track and field ready to run for all the marbles at state meet this weekend
The boys team is coming off of a fourth consecutive section championship and is seeking its first state title since 1993
MOORHEAD — It's been a standout season for the Moorhead High School track & field teams to say the least.
The Spud boys are coming off of their fourth consecutive section championship, while the girls have made strides of their own this season, setting several new personal bests and qualifying several athletes for the Minnesota high school state track and field meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School this Thursday through Saturday.
While the girls will be more focused on achieving individual goals at this weekend's meet, the boys have a realistic chance to win their first team state championship since 1993.
"They've definitely done the work and have put themselves in a position that they should be considered one of the top teams," Spuds head coach Ron Davies said of the boys side. "But it all comes down to what happens on the track Thursday and Saturday. We think we are (a contender), and hopefully we can do all of the right things to make that happen."
The Minnesota high school state track and field meet kicks off at 9 a.m. Thursday with Class 3A preliminary events and field finals.
The Spud boys won the Section 8-3A title last week with a team total of 167 points. Going into this weekend's state meet, Moorhead will bring several contenders across multiple events.
"We kind of knew coming in (to the season), especially on the boys side, that we had a special group of kids that could really make some noise at the end of the year," Davies said. "Kind of from the beginning, they kind of beared that out with a really good performance at the Hamline Elite Meet and some really good performances early on, especially given the weather we've been dealing with."
One contender, for example, is Moorhead senior Alonn Salman, who broke the school record in the 100 meters multiple times this season and will enter the state meet with the second-fastest time in the 3A division.
"Alonn broke that a number of times," Davies said. "But right now the record sits at 10.66 (seconds) and we'll see if he can drop that down a little bit more this weekend. He really looks good in practice, so we're kind of excited to see what happens there."
Salman was also part of the Spuds' 400 relay team that broke the school record multiple times this season which currently sits at 42.35, good for the third-fastest time in 3A.
"Alonn is a part of that, along with Michael Haugo, Jamal Dixon and Karson Wendt," Davies said. "And our 4x200 (team) is knocking on the door to break another school record. It hasn't happened yet, but I wouldn't be shocked if we had some news on that (Thursday). That crew is Michael Haugo, Abe Carlson, Karson Wendt and Jamal Dixon, and Alonn is also a player in that, too, so we'll kind of see how that goes."
The Spuds can also make some noise in the field events this weekend with junior Ellineus Davis, who broke school records this season in both the shot put and discus.
In the shot put, Davis' mark of 58 feet, 10 inches is good enough for the second-best mark in the state and he'll enter as the top seed in 3A. He ranks third-best in the discus event with a throw of 171-5 and will be the third seed in that, as well.
"Boy, I'll tell you it's been fun to watch this kid," Davies said. "He took down both our shot and our discus records, and those were really old records. He didn't just take it down in the shot put, he crushed it. He had already taken it down and then in our section tournament this last weekend, he broke his own record by more than 2 feet in the shot put."
Other qualifiers on the boys side include Dixon in the 100 and high jump, Haugo in the 200 and long jump, Carlson in the 400, Isaac Martel in the 3,200 and Carlson, Wendt, Ben Colborn and John Jenkins in the 1,600 relay.
"There's a lot of goodness all over the board," Davies said. "We've had some kids kind of really coming out of nowhere, to be honest. Abe Carlson, who runs the 400 for us, ran a 49.60 at our section meet and goes into the state meet as the fourth seed, so there's one that at the beginning of the year, we had no idea and then in the middle of the year, tries it and he's just eaten up everything we've thrown at him."
On the girls side, Katryna Hansen and Alexis Olderbak both qualified for the long jump, while the 400 relay team of Audrey Janich, Summer Lindquist, Olderbak and Halle Gregoire hold the fourth-fastest seed time of 49.35.
Davies said the girls are in a position to steal some points, as well.
"Our girls team, unless something was really weird, they're not in a position ... we don't have enough kids there to win a state team title," he said. "But they could definitely make some noise in the relay and heck — if somebody pops a jump, then we could be sitting on top of the podium there too."
Shifting back to the boys side, Davies said whatever happens, happens — but he and his assistant coaches are confident that they have what it takes to get the job done both individually and as a team.
"There's really a chance to do both," Davies said. "And honestly from a coaching standpoint, I think if you talk to any of our coaches — from our 3,200-meter runner (Martel) who's going to be down there, we want to see them perform absolutely to the top of their ability. A lot of our guys, if that happens, that's going to put them right at the top of the podium. At the same time — I think they're all aware although we keep it on the low key to not overshoot it — is that the team title aspect is definitely there. But we have to put two days together and track can be kind of a tricky sport.
"One of the unique things about our team is I think if you looked at a lot of the other teams, is we have a few guys that are doing quite a few events. Michael Haugo is there for four events. Jamal Dixon is there for four events. Karson Wendt is there for three events. We have some guys who are going to have a lot of running to do in two days. So you just really hope we can put those two days together. I'm really excited about it. I think if you ask any of our coaches, they'd all agree that these guys are definitely in position to make a really strong run and we're really excited to see where we're sitting come Saturday afternoon."