01 June 2014

Boys Track: Having their cake and eating it, too

Tanner Grubb (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Justin Hyytinen (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Most coaches have one of two goals in mind when it comes to the section track: 1) advancing as many athletes as possible to the state meet or 2) winning the team title.

After the conclusion of Saturday's Section 1AA Championships at Lakeville South, Tiger coach Brian Helmstetter found his deep and talented squad had accomplished both.

Farmington qualified for next weekend's state finals at Hamline University in St. Paul in a school-record tying nine events and in doing so came away with its third-ever section title with 135.5 team points.

"The goal was to qualify as many athletes for state as we could..." Helmstetter said, "but with that being said, we knew if the boys took care of business, a top three placement was well within reach also."

Turns out the Tigers took home the championship hardware with relative ease with runner-up Hastings well back with 99 points. Owatonna ranked third with 84 followed by Lakeville North 78, Rochester Century 55.5, Rochester John Marshall 50, Austin 43, Red Wing 41, Lakeville South 39, Faribault 26.5, Winona 17.5, Albert Lea 12, Rochester Mayo 12, Kasson-Mantorville 7 and Northfield 2.

As has been the case all season, the Tiger effort was led by senior Tanner Grubb and junior Justin Hyytinen. Each qualified for state in two individual events and a relay.

Grubb won the 200-meter (22.32) and 400-meter (49.47) dashes and anchored the winning 4x200 relay team of Mason Auge, Jack Erickson and Ryan Parco (1:29.83). Grubb's winning time in the 400 shaved .17 seconds off his school record time set earlier this year.

Hyytinen out-kicked Hastings' Zack Benning down the stretch to win the 1600-meter run in 4:13.83 to break his old school mark. He also took second in the 3200-meter run and showed his versatility in joining Nehemiah Rockett, Parco and Devon Webb on the second place 4x400 relay team.

CJ Wynings (center) won the discus with a throw of 158-2
Farmington's third individual to qualify for state was CJ Wynings who eclipsed his old personal mark by eight feet in the discus with a winning throw of 158-2.

The 4x800 relay foursome of Alex Hart, Sean Dougherty, Jared Wolt and Webb started the meet out on a high note by posting a winning time of 8:12.70.

The 4x100 relay quartet of Caleb Bray, Jack Erickson, Sean McHenry and Auge punched its ticket to the state meet with a second place finish.

"Our 4x100 and 4x800 were up in the air as to how they would compete with the other teams," Helmstetter said. "Those were huge positives as both move on."

Helmstetter said if there were any disappointments to take away from the productive day it was the three third place finishers who fell one spot short of making the trip to Hamline.

"The toughest part about this meet is we left three athletes at the altar," he said. "Mason Gaylord (triple jump), Wyatt Ferm (high jump) and Nehemiah Rockett (300 hurdles) were one place away."

Helmstetter, who was named the Section 1AA Coach of the Year following the meet, downplayed his recognition and gave the credit to his athletes and assistant coaches.

"It was the boys who went out and ran and jumped and threw," he said. "And I wish the award had all of our coaches names on it. It's an incredible compliment from the other section coaches as they felt our program, both boys and girls, made a statement at this meet."

The 13-member contingent heading to state now has less than a week to prepare for its biggest test of the season.

"Our goal is to get as many individuals and relay teams into the finals as possible," Helmstetter said. "The team points will come if the boys perform as they are capable."

Other Farmington point scorers at the section meet:
100-meter dash: 5. Auge; 6. Erickson
200-meter dash: 6. Bray
400-meter dash: 4. Parco
800-meter run:4. Webb
1600-meter run: 7. Hart
110-meter hurdles: 5. Rockett
300-meter hurdles: 3. Rockett
Long jump: 5. McHenry
Triple jump: 6. Rockett
Discus: 8. Brendan King

All in all, 13 different Tigers qualified for the state meet