Marshall track team competes in Day 1 of 2AA championships

Marshall Tiger track and field athletes worked to keep their state track hopes alive Wednesday during Day 1 of the Section 2AA championships at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Prelims in most of the running events took place Wednesday, with finals in those events to be held Friday. There were also a few field events that had finals Wednesday. The rest will be Friday, along with all of the relays.

The Marshall boys’ team didn’t advance any athletes to state during Wednesday’s competition, but had a few competitors qualify for Friday’s finals and a few more attain personal-best marks.

The Tigers will have two hurdlers in the finals on Friday, as Danny West and Promise Nkwocha both finished in the top nine of their respective events. Nkwocha took fourth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 41.90, while West was eighth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.65. The top two finishers in Friday’s finals advance to the Class AA state meet.

The finals of the 3,200 run and a couple of the field events were held on Wednesday. Marshall had a couple of close calls, but no state qualifiers.

Nkwocha was hoping for a top-two finish in the triple jump, but he finished fourth with a distance of 42 feet. Marshall head coach Mike Jacobs said Nkwocha had an attempt of 43 feet that would have gotten him to state, but he scratched by about a half of an inch. Marshall’s Zach Drum also competed in the event and had a career-best mark of 42-09 to finish in ninth place.

Sam Marshall took part in the 400 prelims and finished sixth with a 52.25 to qualify for the finals. Also in the sprinting events, Rhett Struve ran a personal best time of 11.62 in the 100 dash but just missed out on the finals by one one-hundredth of a second.

“We don’t have anyone in yet, but we still have a few chances,” Marshall boys’ head coach Mike Jacobs said. “With Promise being fourth and Sam being sixth, they still have their work cut out for them. But I don’t think either of them had their best race today. They can get a little better, but the competition is a little stiffer here at sections.”

State cross country qualifier Andrew Bell was vying for a spot at state in the 3,200 run. He ended up finishing sixth with a time of 10:02. Blaine Moran was also in the field and shaved 18 seconds off his personal best with a time of 10:35.

Jacobs also said that Mike Larson ran a 2:06 in the 800 run, which was third in his head. Jacobs wasn’t sure what place Larson got but felt confident he would get through to the finals.

On the girls’ side, sophomore Sarah Buysse is trying to get back to state and she gave herself a chance by making the finals in two sprinting events. She took third in the 400 prelims (1:00.86) and seventh in the 200 prelims (27.38).

Rachel Miller was the other Marshall girl to make Friday’s finals as she finished ninth in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.78.

“She was by far the biggest surprise for us,” Marshall girls’ coach Marie Sample said. “She ran really well, was really aggressive and attacked the hurdles. That was a personal best for her and she’s really excited for Friday.”

Jackie Turner had the top time for the Tigers in the 3,200 final with an 11:52 to take fifth. Celeste Werner was seventh in the discus (96-04), followed closely by teammate Haley Bennett (94-11), and Sarah Andersen was 13th in the long jump (15-02).

Andersen will try to get to state in the triple jump Friday, and Marshall’s 4×800 relay team will also vie for a shot to get back to Hamline when it starts off the day on the track.

“Sarah Buysse’s excited to try to get back to state and seniors Sarah Andersen and Madi Verschaetse would like to make it, too,” Sample said. “They all have the door open for them, so if they wrap they have the ability to go out and do it.”