2012 Spring Preview: Park boys track team expected to make a run at state chamionshipThe 2011 season was a banner year for the Park boys track and field team. But, the Wolfpack is hoping 2012 is even better.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The 2011 season was a banner year for the Park boys track and field team. But, the Wolfpack is hoping 2012 is even better.
Last year Park nearly shocked the world of Minnesota high school track and field as four members of the Wolfpack came five points away from winning the Class AA state championship. All for athletes return to the Wolfpack this spring.
Led by Park R.J. Alowonle’s two state championship titles in the hurdles, the Wolfpack finished tied for third as a team in the state meet with 42 points. Eden Prairie also scored 42 points to tie Park for third. With 47 points, Stillwater won the state championship, followed by runner-up Wayzata with 43 points.
According to Park head coach Mike Moran, now in his 20th year at the helm of the team, third place was the best finish by a Park boys track team in school history.
“There are people who are going to be looking at us as the favorites next year,” Moran said after last year’s state meet. “There’s no reason to think we can’t try to do it again. We won’t get ahead of ourselves. We want to try to keep everyone healthy No. 1. Maybe we can get some more guys out next year, though. It’d be nice to have more than four guys here. Stillwater and Eden Prairie had 10-12 guys here.”
Park’s athletes — Alowonle, D’Monte Farley, Irving Gutierrez and Dylan Smallidge — finished in the top five in five of the seven of the events they qualified to state in to help Park earn third place.
Alowonle and Farley, now both seniors, each qualified for the state meet in the maximum four events — something that no other male athlete had done in Park history.
At the meet, Alowonle – a University of North Carolina recruit – won the 110-meter hurdle and the 300-meter hurdle state titles and took fourth place in the triple jump, Farley, who will run track for the University of North Dakota next fall, took sixth place in the 100-meter dash, and the foursome took third place in the 400-meter relay. Additionally, Farley finished 12th in the triple jump and 20th in the long jump.
In addition to the jumps, Alowonle’s hurdles and Farley’s sprints, the 400-meter relay will be an event to watch this spring. In the preliminary round of the state meet, Alowonle, Farley, Gutierrez and Smallidge (who are now juniors) combined to break Park’s 400-meter relay record with a time of 42.60 — the fastest time in the prelims. Before last year, Park’s all-time record was from 1981. In the 400-meter relay finals, however, Park ran a 42.79 and took third place.
Park held an invitational on Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to print. The Wolfpack’s next meet will be on Thursday at Hastings. However, Park is mostly concerned about its meets at the end of the year. The Suburban East Conference Championships will be held May 22 and 24 at East Ridge and the Section 3AA Championships will be May 29 and May 31 at St. Thomas University.