State meet roundup: track and field

All three Bulletin-area high schools sent participants to the state track and field meet on June 7-8 at Hamline University in St. Paul. Those competing finished with varying degrees of success.

Irondale High School senior Ben Ojika turned in the highest finish of any area athlete when he took second place in the 110-meter high hurdles.

Ojika started strong and held the lead about halfway through the race but a familiar foe closed the gap and eventually passed Ojika. Spring Lake Park High School senior CJ Janu, who Ojika has dueled with numerous times over the years in the North Suburban Conference and Section 5AA, won the event with a time of 14.37 seconds while Ojika clocked in at 14.49.

Irondale earned all-state (top-nine finish) honors in one other event. The 4x100-meter relay team of seniors Louis Johnson, Justus Canfield and James Kruse and sophomore Victor James captured fourth place.

Other state entrants for Irondale included junior pole vaulter Joe Kelner, who finished 12th, and Ojika, who took 17th in the high jump. Kruse also qualified for state in the 200 meters but did not advance to the finals.

Mounds View

With 11 entries, Mounds View High School’s girls team had the largest state contingent among the area schools. Of those, senior Paige Clement ascended the highest on the medal stand by placing fourth in the pole vault.

Sophomore Veronica Rasmussen also earned all-state honors for her fifth-place performance in the discus. Cassidy Smestad, also a 10th grader, joined Rasmussen as an all-state thrower with her ninth-place finish in the shot put.

Mounds View also had three relay teams finish high enough for all-state honors. The 4x400-meter relay team of senior Nicole Balzer, junior Nicole Geist, sophomore Elizabeth Menne and Annalee Blake finished seventh.

The 4x800-meter relay quartet of Balzer, sophomores Jordan Nustad and Christine Hessini and eighth-grader Natalie Nowatzke placed eighth.

Ninth place went to the 4x100-meter relay foursome of Geist, Menne, sophomore Mikayla Toninato and freshman Rachel Boyer. They qualified for the finals with the second-fastest preliminary time on Friday but an issue with the second handoff caused them to fall behind.

Seniors Kristine Dahl and Kat Tillman also competed at state. Dahl finished 16th in the pole vault while Tillman was 12th in the discus.

Three of Mounds View’s state entries did not advance past the preliminaries. Toninato, Menne, Geist and Boyer, running in the 4x200-meter relay, were disqualified in heat one of the prelims. Blake and Balzer made state in the 400 and 800 meters, respectively, but did not place high enough on day one to advance.

As a team, the Mounds View girls earned 18 points and finished tied for 17th with Osseo.

On the boys’ side for Mounds View, senior high jumper Chris Johnston qualified for state, as did senior Joey Kaiser, juniors Andre Hessini and Michael Hoff and sophomore Grant Herbert in the 4x800-meter relay. Both entries ended up placing eighth.

St. Anthony

St. Anthony Village senior Isaac Krause earned a spot in the state meet in the 800 meters but did not qualify for the finals.

Brian Meyers can be reached at


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