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Boys track and field: Irish dominate Section 3AA

The Rosemount boys track team stands atop the podium at the University of St. Thomas Thursday after winning the Section 3AA championship.

As always, the Rosemount boys track team went into the Section 3AA meet with the goal of advancing as many events as possible to the state meet.

For the sixth time in nine years, that approached resulted in a section championship. The Irish qualified 13 individuals in 10 events while putting up 129 1/3 points last Tuesday and Thursday at the University of St. Thomas. South Suburban Conference runner-up Apple Valley also had to settle for being section runner-up as the Eagles finished 18 points off Rosemount’s pace.

The Irish qualified for state in three of the four relays — the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 — and crowned four section champions who will go up against the state’s best beginning tomorrow at the Class 2A state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul.

“We had some tremendous individual and relay performances. We had about all we could ask for heading into the state meet,” Rosemount coach Jay Hatleli said. “Wayzata is the favorite on paper, but we should be in contention if we have a good two-day meet.”

All four of Rosemount’s section titles came in the field events. Senior Payton Otterdahl, an all-state finisher last spring, will be among the favorites for a state title after sweeping the section with a discus spin of 177 feet, 7 inches, and a shot put toss of 59-8.

Gavin Rudoll came through with a big leap late in the long jump to win the event by nearly a foot with a leap of 22-0 ¾ and Zach Zweber continued his string of triple jump victories with a jump of 44-7 ¼.

“We had a good showing in the field. Payton Otterdahl had his back to the wall, but came through to qualify on his fifth throw, then launched one on his sixth throw. That is what athletes do, compete and keep battling when the going gets tough,” Hatleli said. “Gavin Rudoll did a similar thing in the long jump. He was third and out of state through five jumps. Gavin dug down and let it go and won the competition. Zach Zweber didn’t have the same drama. He took control from the start and was the class of the triple jump.”

On the track, Grant Jackson will represent the Irish in a pair of individual events. He placed second in the 100, breaking his own school record with a sharp 10.89, and came back for another runner-up run in the 200 where he clocked in at 22.05. Rudoll was sixth in both races and will join Jackson at state in the Irish’s 4x100 relay, which placed third in 43.11. Jordon Herbranson and Demitri Williams each contributed legs to the 4x1 at the section meet.

All-state cross country runner Alex Berhe will go after more state honors on the track after qualifying with a second-place finish at St. Thomas. Berhe’s eighth lap was his fastest as he gutted out a 10-second personal-best time of 9:36.35 in the 3,200.

“Alex Berhe had an inspiring performance in the 3,200. He had a back-and-forth duel for second behind the defending state champion, Obsa Ali (of Richfield),” Hatleli said. “Alex looked like he wanted more and willed himself to second.”

Some of Berhe’s cross country teammates will join him at state as part of the Irish’s other two qualifying relays. Sam Ivanecky and Aaron Elizondo were joined by Josiah Mann and Treigh French in the second-place 4x400 and Luke Anderson and Sam Karlson in the runner-up 4x800. All four 4x4 runners ran personal-best splits at St. Thomas and the 4x8 combined for a season-best 8:07.

Ivanecky also turned in a season-best time of 2:00.15 to finish third in the open 800. The Irish’s other third-place finish went to Berhe in the 1,600, where he combined with Cody Sedbrook and Zaffer Hussein for a 3-5-7 Rosemount showing.

Elizondo placed fifth in the 400 final in 50.61 and Sedbrook and Ryan Condon came in 6-7 in the 3,200. Dan Monson placed sixth in the triple jump, Zweber was seventh in the 300 hurdles and Jaym Ogren cleared 11-6 for seventh in the pole vault.