Area athletes grab glory on Day 1 of state track

ST. PAUL – After Day 1 of the Minnesota Class A State Track and Field Championships at Hamline University, the Marshall area already boasts two individual champions and both in different styles.

Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central’s Jeff DeCock waited until the very end of the boys’ triple jump to secure his championship on Friday. On his final attempt at the event, DeCock soared 45 feet, 9 inches, topping his qualifying mark by two full feet.

As soon as he hit the sand, DeCock knew he had the gold medal secured. And so to did the crowd, which celebrated with the senior immediately.

“It was awesome, getting the whole crowd into it,” DeCock said. “They knew and I knew it right when it happened that it was a great jump right when I got it. I knew it right away. I was hoping for 46, but I’ll take 45-9 any day.”

DeCock also qualified for the boys’ high jump and long jump, both of which will be contested today. With a state championship already to his credit, DeCock said the pressure is off and he will be able to just enjoy his remaining events.

“To be a state champion, it’s a dream that I’ve always had,” DeCock said. “For it to finally come true, it definitely takes the pressure off of tomorrow.”

Tanner Nepp, of Murray County Central, rode his first hurl in the shot put to a gold medal in the event. With a mark of 52 feet, 3.75 inches, Nepp was unable to outdistance his first toss; but neither were any of his competitors, to the surprise of Nepp.

“During warm-ups I was throwing 50s like normal, but there were a couple other guys throwing 53 to 55,” he said. “I was kind of getting a little worried. It must have just been an off day for them.”

An off day for the rest of the field perhaps, but certainly an on day for Nepp, who improved on a sixth-place finish in the shot put in 2012. Nepp also competed in the discus at the state meet last year and said that the ability to focus on just one event at the state meet helped him on Friday.

“Focusing on one thing and not taking it away to focus on another event really helped a lot,” Nepp said.

The Marshall area nearly had a third individual champion on Friday.

Russell-Tyler-Ruthton junior Jada Carr came up an inch short in the girls’ long jump. Her leap of 17-2 was bested by Warroad’s Deidre Hahn, who won the event with a distance of 17-3. Despite falling an inch shy of a state championship, Carr said she was pleased with her performance on Day 1 of the meet.

“A 17-2 jump, it’s a good jump and I’ll take it. I was just glad that I hit a 17,” Carr said. “You always want to do your best, and that’s my best today and it got me second place. It feels phenomenal.”

Carr will have another shot at a gold medal today as she competes in the girls’ triple jump. She is seeded third in the event, but says that her second-place finish in the long jump has not eased the stress of competing in another event at state.

“Probably it should (relieve the stress), but I’m going to go in just as nervous as I always do,” Carr said. “I’m just going to take it one step at a time and focus tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll come back with another medal.”

Also with a chance to medal today is MCC senior sprinter Jack Thony, who advanced to the finals in all three of his events on Friday. Thony had the seventh-fastest time in the 100-meter dash (11.12 seconds) and the fourth-fastest time in both the 200 (22.42) and 400 (49.90).

Jacob Pederson from Yellow Medicine East also qualified in the 400 (50.46), while Thony’s teammate of Tyler Scotting moved on to the finals of the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 41.15 seconds.

Jacinta Roggenbuck, of Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd, advanced to the finals in one of her two events on Friday. Her time of 1:00.53 in the 400 qualified her for the 400 finals today, though she was unable to advance in the 200.

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton eighth-grader Kendra Ludeman placed 13th in the girls’ high jump, clearing 4-10. The event was won by Deidre Hahn of Warroad with a mark of 5-6.

Nick Stoks, representing Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI, finished 12th in the boys’ 3,200 with a time of 10:01.28. Stoks will make his final run for the Lancers today in the 1,600.

Fellow Lancer Morgan Merritt failed to advance to the finals in the 100-meter hurdles, posting a time of 16.63.