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John’s Journal: Jakob And Finn/ Competitors And Future Teammates

Perham And Nova Classical Academy Runners Finish Strong

Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2022 - 5:11 PM

Jakob McCleary knows all about exciting finishes, and a common denominator down the stretch for the senior from Perham is his friend Finn McCormick of Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul. They will be teammates at the University of Minnesota next season, and they will bring outstanding track (and cross-country) pedigrees to their college careers.

It was no surprise that one of the most exciting finishes during this weekend’s MSHSL state track and field state championships at St. Michael-Albertville High School involved Jakob and Finn. In the Class A 1,600 meters, they were stride for stride as they raced to the finish line, with McCleary leaning in to finish first and McCormick giving it everything he had before crashing to the track.

How close was it? Jakob’s time was 4 minutes, 21.12 seconds and Finn clocked in at 4:21.13. They don’t come any closer than that, especially when the distance is four laps around the oval.

“I just love racing Finn, and our little competition will be going on for the next four or five years,” McCleary said. “We'll both be pushing each other for years to come. And I think it's just really exciting. We've been sending (text) chirps back and forth, just teasing each other, having a nice little chat.”

McCleary also won the 800 meters and ran the anchor leg on the Yellowjackets’ fifth-place 4x400 relay team, while McCormick was the state champ in the 3,200 meters.

At last fall’s state cross-country championships, McCormick was in the lead coming down the stretch but collapsed several times, getting up each time. McCleary surged into the lead and won the race, with Finn recovering and placing eighth, which lifted his team to the team title ahead of runner-up Perham.

The standings were similar at state track, with Nova scoring 47.5 points to win the boys team title by half a point over Perham.

Jakob reflected on his high school career after the meet, knowing that he is part of a long and continuing line of running excellence at Perham.

“It's been very surreal just knowing that I've been working my whole life really to get to this point,” he said. “After last year, winning the 800 and getting second in the mile, it's really just kind of set the tone for me as a distance runner and as a mid-distance runner. I've been really focused all year. I had some ups and downs at the beginning of the year with rough weather; we couldn't really get outside much and couldn't get a lot of workouts done and couldn't really race. So it was really tough but we kind of figured it out. Midway through the season I kind of started to get my groove back, get back into the flow of things and so it felt good to finally get out there, run some PRs and then just top it all off with two state titles and then a fifth place in the 4 by 4.”

Concordia Academy’s Zinter Wins Thrice

Shaina Zinter capped a splendid high school career by winning three events and finishing second in a fourth during the Class A girls competition. The senior from Concordia Academy in Roseville won the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash. She finished a close second in the long jump to Brielle Kuechle of Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball.

“It hit me right before my 300 race that this is my last chance to do as well as I can and it's my last time racing in Minnesota high school track,” said Shaina, who also is an all-state volleyball player and will be a track and field athlete at the University of Wisconsin. “It feels really good.”

Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball won the Class A girls team competition with 81 points, getting first-place finishes by Kuechle in the long jump, Ellie Kuechle in the 400 and the 4x100 relay team of Jocelyn Zoller, Hope Kuechle, Brookelyn Kuechle and Ellie Kuechle.

Zinter scored 46 points on her own, and teammate Nora Wilhelm won the discus and was second in the shot put as Concordia Academy finished in second place with 68 points. Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland/Southland tied for third with 48 points.

Jade Rypkema of Nevis was a double winner among Class A girls, winning the 1,600 and 3,200. In the Class A girls wheelchair division, Emily Sullivan of LeSueur-Henderson won gold medals in the 100, 200 and shot put.

In Class A boys competition, joining McCleary as double winners were Owen Petersohn of Triton in the 110 and 300 hurdles, Ashton Sandbulte of Luverne in the 100 and 200, and relay teams from St. Cloud Cathedral in the 4x400 and 4x800 races. Aidan Gravelle of Mankato Loyola/Cleveland was a four-event wheelchair champion, placing first in the 100, 200, 1,600 and discus.

Monticello, St. Peter Win AA Titles

Proving the importance of depth throughout the roster, the Monticello girls track team captured the 2022 Class AA state championship. The Magic were led by the winning 4x200-meter relay team of Sasha Steinbach, Natalie Emmerich, Thalia Mendoza-Brunotte and Emelia Skistad, which was their only championship en route to a team total of 71 points, 11 more than runner-up Providence Academy.

Mendoza-Brunotte (long jump) was Monticello’s lone second-place finisher. She and teammate Kaela Skistaf finished fourth and fifth in the 400 meters, and the 4x100 relay team placed third.

Providence Academy’s Brooke Hohenecker won the 200 and the Lions’ 4x200 relay team also won gold.

Holy Angels, which tied for third with Rockford, got individual championships from Ashley Fisher in the 100 and Olivia Keller in the long jump. Rockford was led by triple jump champion Cassia Cady. Alexandria had two state champs: Aleah Miller in the 1,600 and the 4x800 relay unit.

In the AA girls wheelchair division, Adaylia Borgmeier of Mankato East won the 100, 200 and 800, and Tayla Gassman of Big Lake won the shot put and discus.

In Class AA boys competition, St. Peter was the team champion with Corbin Herron leading the way by finishing first in the 110-meter hurdles. The Saints had 44 points, followed by Spectrum with 40 and Jordan with 39.

Spectrum had a double champion in Max Ries in the 100 and 200. Jordan was led by 800 champion Kaleb Sharp and the winning 4x800 relay team.

Class AAA: A State Record And A Two-Sport Champion

The stars of the Class AAA state track meet included an all-time state record-setter and a two-sport state champion.

Roseville's Ava Fitzgerald set an all-time state record in the girls 100-meter hurdles, winning the title with a time of 13.81 seconds. The previous record was 13.94 by Karina Joiner of East Ridge in the 2016 state prelims.

Forest Lake’s Daniel Vanacker won the Class 3A wrestling championship at 152 pounds last winter, and Saturday he won the 3A state title at 1,600 meters. He will run at the University of Minnesota.

Jordyn Borsch of Maple Grove was a double winner in the girls 100 and 400, Ava Cinnamo of Rosemount won the triple jump and 300 hurdles, Edina’s Maddie Dahlien won the 100 and long jump, and Eagan won the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.

Among boys, Blake Nyenati of Andover won the 110 and 300 hurdles, and Richlu Tudee of Champlin Park won the 100 and 200. Michael Allen of Wayzata won the 100, 200, 1,600 and shot put wheelchair events.

In the team competition, Rosemount won the girls title with 93 points. Minnetonka was second with 81 and Edina third with 63. On the boys side, Andover won the team title with 62.2 points, followed by Rosemount with 58 and Moorhead with 55.

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John

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Track and Field State Tournament 2022; Class AAA Recap