Last year, the 2018 Bluejacket boys and girls track and field teams enjoyed unprecedented successes. The boys team won both the section “True Team” and “traditional” section championships. Both the boys and girls teams also achieved a school-record 10 state meet berths. To that, the 2019 Jacket teams simply responded with, to age-appropriately paraphrase a popular saying, “hold my Gatorade.”
During the Section 7AA track and field championships, held on May 29 and June 1 at Chisago Lakes, the Cambridge-Isanti girls team achieved their first section team championship in a long time, while the boys team, who again competed in the state “True Team” meet, along with winning the Mississippi 8 Conference championship earlier this season, came away with the section runner-up trophy. Along the way, the two teams combined for an incredible 15 individual and relay team state meet berths.
It was a virtual photo finish for the team title between C-I and perennial section power Forest Lake, with the deciding points coming in the last two events of the meet.
“Throughout the prelims and finals, we traded the lead with them back and forth,” C-I girls head coach Mike Galligan said. “Going into the meet, we had hopes of being a contender but knew that Forest Lake would be a very tough opponent to beat. The girls never backed down performing with all their heart to achieve their fastest, furthest and highest results of the season.”
Although having four individuals and two relays qualify for state – the first- and second-place finishers advance to state – certainly helped their cause, it was a pair of non-state-qualifying results that sealed the deal for the Jackets.
The 4x400 relay team “ran absolutely out of their minds” Galligan said, in dropping six seconds off their season-best time and beat Forest Lake for third place by eight hundredths of a second. At the exact same time, Char Morke and Ashley Lawrence’s first- and fourth-place finishes added valuable team points compared to Forest Lake’s Sophia Dodge’s third-place finish in the pole vault.
Besides those obvious results, Galligan was quick to point out a few other key finishes that contributed to the team win.
“Jess Illg had a great 400-meter race, breaking her own school record and placing fifth,” Galligan said while rattling off a long list of accomplishments. “Emily Jones gave it quite a run in the triple jump by going well over a foot beyond her personal record and coming in just a 3/4-inch behind (teammate) AnnaGrace (Nelson).
“Words cannot express how excited we are and how happy the coaching staff is for these athletes,” he continued. “They’ve worked incredibly hard all season. They are a group of dedicated teammates, and they lift everyone up with their determination and enthusiasm.”
Advancing to the state meet for the girls team will be Kaylee Clement (first, 100), AnnaGrace Nelson (second, high jump and triple jump), Char Morke (first in pole vault for the third year in a row and new section record-holder at 12’3”), along with the 4x100 (second place) and 4x200 (first place) relay teams.
The script was flipped on the boys side of the meet. Forest Lake managed to hold off the Jackets to claim the section team title, with C-I still taking home some team hardware for the second year in a row.
“It’s pretty rare to score that many points in a section meet with 16 teams and not win it,” C-I boys head coach Kent Viesselman said. “It is a real testament to how tough the section was on the boys side. Forest Lake’s athletes and coaches did a fantastic job and deserve a lot of credit for their performance.
“Section runner-up caps off a great year of conference championship and state True Team berth,” he continued. “The boys have performed at a high level consistently the whole year, and I have been extremely proud of them.”
The large team points Viesselman mentioned came mostly courtesy of a total of seven individual state meet berths, along with two relay teams.
The highlight of these easily came in the pole vault, where not only did senior Joseph Stauffer take first and sophomore Ethan Hintermeister take second, but junior Amadeus Mcelrath placed third and also qualified for state based on clearing a height of 13’8”.
Besides those three, Blaze Krueger will again compete at state in both the shot put and discus courtesy of his first- and second-place finishes in those two events. Sophomore Gaven Ziebarth captured first place in the 100 and senior Dylan Jones took second in the 200 to enable both of them to compete at state.
Finally, the boys relay teams copied the girls in qualifying for state in both the 4x100 and 4x200 after finishing in second place in both events.
“The assistant coaches have done an amazing job again this year, which is evident in the sheer number of events that will be represented at the state meet,” said Viesselman. “We are now looking to perform our best there and see what happens.”
The state meet for both the boys and girls will be held at Hamline University on June 7-8. Start time both days is 9 a.m.
It wasn’t just the athletes who captured awards during the section meet, but also the coaches, as both Viesselman and Galligan were named Section 7AA head coaches of the year. This was the first time Galligan received the honor and the sixth time for Viesselman.