Park track & field: Alowonle nearly breaks 25-year state record in 300 hurdlesWhile it was Park’s track stars that may have shined brightest, the Section 2AA True Team Championships proved to be a true team affair for the Wolfpack.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
While it was Park’s track stars that may have shined brightest, the Section 2AA True Team Championships proved to be a true team affair for the Wolfpack.
The True Team meet, originated by the Minnesota State Track and Field Coaches Association, is meant to be exactly that — a team meet. True Team meets take into account results from the whole team, awarding points based on performance to all participants in a given event, so a team’s depth plays a big role in its finish.
At last week’s Section 2AA True Team Championships, held at Stillwater Area High School, the Park boys and girls teams each finished in fourth place. The Park boys scored 632.5 points to finish in a virtual tie with third-place St. Thomas Academy (635.5 points). Stillwater won the meet with 851.5 points, ahead of second-place Woodbury (699 points).
“I think we had a pretty good meet,” Park head coach Mike Moran said. “That three points is such an insignificant difference. We had a few guys filling in for guys that were sore. You can’t really argue with what happened.”
Stillwater also won the girls meet, with 717.5, topping second place East Ridge (669.5 points) and third-place Woodbury (569.5 points). Park scored 510 points to take fourth.
With a number of his top athletes on the sidelines for various reasons, Park head coach Matt Maher was left wondering what could have been.
“It’s been a frustrating year so far,” Maher said. “We don’t have a lot of athletes that wants to duel it out, want to get better and love a challenge. We have very few girls on the team that are like that this year. A lot of them have missed practices and meets. That kind of came to a head again at true team. For the girls that were there, they did great. We scored more points than we have in a long time. But, we’ve never gotten a third-place ribbon there and I think that would’ve been nice.”
Park seniors R.J. Alowonle and D’Monte Farley each earned four first-place finishes at the section True Team meet.
Alowonle had the most outstanding performance of anyone in the section competition with his finish in the 300-meter hurdles. Alowonle nearly broke a 25-year-old state record in the event, finishing in first place with a time of 37.03 seconds — a new Park record and personal-best for Alowonle, who is a three-time state hurdles champion. The previous Minnesota record in the event is held by Minneapolis North’s Dan Bannister with a time of 36.97 from 1987.
“He’s half a step away from that state record,” Moran said. “It is amazing. He’s not that far off in the 110s either. If you’re going to set the record in the 110s your race pretty much has to be perfect, but the 300s does not. If we have a nice day R.J. may have a shot at it. It’d be fun.”
Moran said he feels Alowonle is the best hurdler in state history.
“I have no doubt,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find any people in the top five in state history in both events. He’s very good.”
Alowonle, who will attend the University of North Carolina on a track scholarship in the fall, also won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.82, won the triple jump with a leap of 46 feet, 1 inch, and helped Park’s 400-meter relay team earn first place with a time of 43.11.
Farley was also a member of the winning 400-meter relay team, along with junior sprinters Irving Gutierrez and Dylan Smallidge. In individual events, the University of North Dakota recruit won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.27, the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.54 and the long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 11.25 inches.
Alowonle and Farley helped account for 176 of Park’s total points at the meet.
Individually, Gutierrez finished third in the 100 with a time of 11.83, besting both of East Ridge’s top sprinters, Moran noted, and also took sixth place in the long jump with a mark of 20 feet, 1.50 inches. Smallidge also finished strong in the long jump with a distance of 20-00.50 for eight place, giving the Wolfpack a total of 60 points in the event. In addition, Smallidge also finished in sixth place in the triple jump with a leap of 42 feet, 7.50 inches.
Other top finishes for the Wolfpack came from: Park senior Gabe Simoson, who took third place in the high jump, clearing 6 feet for 22 points. Evan Bonneson, who took fifth place in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4 minutes, 42.40 seconds and was seventh in the 3200-meter run in a 10:27.86 time, earning 38 points by himself for Park.
“He had his best time in the mile for this year and his second-best time in the two mile,” Moran said. “When we get to sections he’ll be able to run those races on two different days, which will help him a lot. He reminds me a little bit of (Park graduate) Dave Borner.”
Park’s Cole Rhien, who earned sixth place in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:09.04 and finished in eighth place in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:48.88 for 36 of Park’s points. Park’s Louis Arrigoni and Ian Hildreth, who took sixth place and eighth place, respectively, in the pole vault with marks of 12 feet and 11 feet. Park’s Kahlen Boich, who took seventh place in the discus throw with a heave of 119 feet, 2 inches. Park’s Steven Cordes, who took 10th place in the shot put with a toss of 41 feet, 8.50 inches and Ryan Olson, who took 10th in the 200 with a time of 23.96.
For the Park girls, eighth-grader Allison Gorres and sophomore Temi Ogunrinde put up the Wolfpack’s top finishes at the section meet. Ogunrinde won the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.94, finished in second place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.02, second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.24 and placed sixth in the shot put with a heave of 32 feet, 5.50 inches. Gorres won the 100 with a time of 12.97 and finished seventh in the 200 with a time of 27.30.
The 200 was the Wolfpack girls best event as, in addition to Ogunrinde and Gorres, Sharmaine Turner finished in eighth place with a time of 27.93 garnering Park 50 total points. Gorres also took eighth place in the long jump with a distance of 15 feet, 8.25 inches and helped the Wolfpack’s 400-meter relay team take second place with a time of 51.26.
“Allie and Temi are just solid,” Maher said. “They’re two of the hardest working kids I’ve worked with. They’re there every single day, they work hard, they love to compete. They’re visably upset when they get beat. They’re just competitors.”
In addition, McKenzie Greeder and Nicole Laabs earned ninth and 10th places, respectively, in the high jump, clearing heights of 4 feet, 8 inches and 4-6. Greeder and Bresnahan also tied for eighth place in the pole vault by going over 8 feet, 6 inches, while Bresnahan also earned eighth place in the triple jump with a leap of 31-00.5.
In the throws, Hannah Schwartz took eighth place in the discus throw with a mark of 88 feet, 3 inches and finished in ninth place in the shot put with a heave of 30-11.25. Also: Cameron Anderson finished in ninth place in the 3200-meter run with a time of 12:20.26. Lindsay Kothe earned ninth place in the 400 with a time of 1:03.70. Brooke Anderson took 10th place in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:58.58. Katelyn Floysand and Karen Banks took eighth place and 10th place, respectively, in the 100-meter hurdles. Floysand had the Wolfpack’s best finish with a 17.73 time and also earned seventh place in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 50.88 seconds.
“We’re very young and have a lot of potential,” Maher said. “Now, for this season the stress is off. It’s just the fun part. Now, it’s all about individual stuff and see what these girls can do.”
Next, Park holds its final regular-season meet of the year — an invitational meet on Thursday as they gear up for the Suburban East Conference Championships, which will be held on Tuesday, May 22, and Thursday, May 24, at East Ridge High School. Then it’s the section championships on May 29 and 31 at St. Thomas University and the state meet on June 8 and 9 at Hamline University.
But, Moran isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“We have some things to get through first,” Moran said.