Tiger track and field blanked in section finals

Marshall track and field athletes ran in snow this spring. The Tigers ran in cold. They ran in sun and wind. The Marshall boys’ team ran its way to a Southwest Conference championship, while the resurgent girls’ program fell just shy taking second place in the conference to Luverne. Despite all their triumphs this season, the Marshall track and field teams could not progress any athletes through the gauntlet of Section 2AA.

The Tigers were shut out of state tournament qualifiers at the Section 2AA finals at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter on Friday.

“With the type of season we’ve had, I’m really excited with the way our kids shook out today,” Marshall girls’ head coach Marie Sample said. “With a few more meets under our belts, a few more competitive meets, I think the outcome would’ve been a little different.

“We’ve got a really young group and most of our kids are coming back next year,” Sample added. “There’s a lot to be excited about.”

Four individuals and one relay team placed for the Marshall girls’ on Friday, with the Tigers placing 11th of 14 teams.

Sophomore sprinter Sarah Buysse just missed out on a spot at the state meet, taking third in the 400-meter run. Buysse completed a lap of the track in 1 minutes, 1.21 seconds.

Sarah Andersen, a senior, placed fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 33 feet, 11.75 inches.

The Tigers also had two individuals place in the 1,600. Eighth-grader Claire Boersma crossed the finish line sixth after 5:21.13, while seventh-grader Nicole Sample took eighth with a time of 5:26.93.

Boersma and Sample were also members of Marshall’s 4×800 relay team, which fell just shy of a state berth. Madi Verschaetse, a senior, and Jenna Christianson, a junior, also ran legs of the relay.

Their team completed the two-mile relay in 10:02.02, while Chanhassen won the event in 9:50 with Mankato West placing second with a time of 9:53.

Verschaetse and Christianson qualified for the state meet in 2012 as members of the 4×800 team, but the Tigers knew that it would be a tough road to a return trip.

“We put a lot of work into that 4×800, and last year it was really exciting when we got it to go,” Marie Sample said. “Two of the kids that were on it last year were on it again this year. It’s hard, we knew coming into this section that there were a lot of stacked distance teams in this section. We knew it would be hard to get out, we were just hoping that we wouldn’t be on the short end of the stick.”

In the boys’ meet Buffalo dominated, scoring 54 more points than second-place Chanhassen, 147.5 to 93. Marshall placed ninth in the 16-team field with 29 points.

Sam Marshall and Andrew Bell had the top finishes for the Marshall boys’ team on Friday, each placing fourth in their respective events.

Bell took fourth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4 minutes, 45 seconds. The junior had entered the finals of the mile seeded 12th, improving vastly on his qualifying time.

Marshall, a sophomore, also improved on his qualifying time. After entering the final heat of the 400, Marshall finished fourth with a time of 52.26.

Along with having no runners place first or second in their events, no Tigers managed to meet the state qualification standards for Class AA. Runners faced heavy head winds for an entire length of the track and Marshall head boys’ coach Mike Jacobs said that he was not surprised that the standard was not reached by his athletes.

“Sam Marshall, he improved on his time in the finals,” Jacobs said. “On one side of the track there was a 30-mile-per-hour wind so any time you could equal or better your time today was a good performance.”

Danny West had the next-best finish for the Tigers, crossing the finish line fifth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.25 seconds.

“Danny West had a nice day for us in the high hurdles,” Jacobs said. “He benefitted from being in Lane 1…he only had one side to worry about. You can run smoother, cleaner.

“Danny entered the race with a little injury,” Jacobs added. “He hurt just above the arch of his foot on Wednesday and wasn’t sure if he was going to run today. He set a (personal record) for the season so that was a nice way to end it.”

Promise Nkwocha, a senior and newcomer to the Marshall track team this season, placed sixth in both the 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. Nkwocha ran the intermediate hurdles in a time of 43.42 and leapt 20 feet, 4 inches in the long jump.

Rhett Struve, another senior for the Tigers, placed eighth in the long jump with a distance of 20-01.

Struve, Nkwocha, Bell and Marshall were members of the Tigers’ only boys’ relay team to pick up points on the day. The 4×400-meter relay took seventh place with a time of 3:38.

Marshall’s final point at the Section 3AA meet came from senior Brock Baumgarn, whose toss of 123-00 in the discus was strong enough for eighth.

Despite not sending anyone to state, Jacobs said that his team had some major accomplishments this season, notably winning the Southwest Conference. He also said that the Tigers should be strong again next season, seeing as they graduate just eight seniors from their squad.