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State track meet to start on Friday

ST. PAUL -- The Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 4x800 relay team returns intact to defend its title in Class A girls track and field this Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Senior Kendra Mooberry leads the quartet. Emma Peterson is now an eighth-grader, Sam Goff a freshman and Catheryn Rosemeier a junior.

The unit comes in the second seed, nearly six seconds back of Adrian's blazing 9:35.46 in the Section 3A race. BKMS qualified by state standard.

Also defending will be Linda Keller of Paynesville, both the 1,600 and 3,200 runs, Melisssa Varpness of Montevideo in the 800 run, Liberty Slinden of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in discus and Briana Wubben of Central Minnesota Christian School, Prinsburg, in the long jump.

Mooberry finished second in the 300 hurdles last year at Hamline to freshman Bree Woelber of Pipestone. This year she beat Woelber at Luverne on May 28 by under a second, 44.23 to 44.99. Those were the only two times under 45.0 registered in the eight Class A sections.

Woelber is the one to beat in the long jump after soaring 18-9 at section. Wubben went 18-3.

Like last year, Keller comes in seeded back in the weeds. But she's like a jaguar, more accurately a Bulldog, and will pounce at the right time, if history is an indicator.

As a junior, Varpness dropped five seconds from her seed time to win the 800 in 2:14.42, by several strides over Sauk Centre's Savanna Weller, who also returns. At 2:17.64, Varpness, a Minnesota recruit, has the fastest time with Peterson of Benson/KMS in the top five.

Slinden threw 41-11 to win last year. She goes in at 39-4¾ just behind Litchfield junior Abby Goraczkowski's 39-5. The top section throw was 39-10.

Slinden, who will enroll at Purdue, has been ill and undergoing medical tests the past week. She did get her doctor's clearance to compete, however, according to her mother, Jennifer Slinden.

Sinus and a possible thyroid problem did prevent her best effort in the discus. After finishing second at state last year, she failed to qualify in sections. Still, ACGC will be represented in the discus by junior Lauren Kinzler.

Briana Wubben will also compete in three other events: high jump (5-4), 100 dash (12.69) and the 4x100 relay. Fourteen teams qualified; nine will advance to Saturday's final.

Other high seeds are Sarah Sannerud of Yellow Medicine East, No. 2 in the 100 hurdles at 15.60; Benson/KMS No. 2 in the 4x400 relay (4:03.80).

Jimenez, Swenson among leaders

Travis Jimenez has the chance to three-peat -- that is, win three medals a second year in a row. The Paynesville senior can again post podium finishes in the 300 hurdles, 110 hurdles and long jump.

Ryan Swenson, Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd sophomore, finished fifth in the 1,600 and ninth in the 800 run a year ago. This time he's the No. 2 seed in the mile (4:22.41). He's four seconds off the pace at 2:00.96 in the 800 and will need a good heat race to qualify for Saturday's final.

Justin Hanson of ACGC has been one of the state's best Class A hurdlers this year. He beat Jimenez in the section final but Jimenez nipped him for first place in the 300. Hanson's 14.98 in the 110s is the second lowest time out of sections. Dan Knapper of Renville County West is in medal contention in both hurdles.

Kruiz Lindblad, LQPV/DB junior, posted the top leap in the long jump (21-6) and is tied for No. 2 in the high jump at 6-3 with CMCS freshman Aaron Wubben. Austin Dennis of Walker leads at 6-8.

Jay Hilbrands of MACCRAY will run in both the 100 and 200 dashes. Everyone will be chasing Frazee senior Skyler Jackson, defending champion in the 100 and bronze-medal winner in the 200 last year.

Lincoln Arnold of Morris has one of the two best section qualifying times in the 200 dash at 22.44, a lineup that also includes 2008 champion Cameron Boy of Jordan (22.61). Arnold will also run in two Morris relays that are in medal contention. Teammate Taylor Nohl also is in three events.

Joel Bauman of Benson/KMS is top three in the 400 dash in 49.57.

Ryan Ackman of Litchfield is No. 2 in the discus at 167-7. Nate Walters of Litchfield has the No. 5 throw in shot put (50-6).

Mike Felt of Redwood Valley qualified in both the 800 and 4x800 relay. The Cardinal foursome ranks No. 3 (8:12.97) going in.