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Willmar sweeps at True Team track sectionals

GLENCOE -- While some coaches don't particularly care for True Team track and field, Willmar coach Jerry Popp is a firm believer in the event.

"This is our favorite meet of the year and probably the one we focus on the most," he said, a day after both his boys and girls teams won Section 4A True Team titles at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School. "If we could only win one meet of the year, this would be it."

Willmar has one of the deepest track teams around with over 120 athletes, and that depth stands out in a True Team format.

"This is a time when every single kid's efforts count at a meet," Popp said. "It is not your first-place kids who win. It is those other kids who make up the bulk of the team that will determine where you finish. You have to have quality athletes in the majority of the 18 events."

Willmar finished with 384.5 points to win the boys half of the eight-team meet. Glencoe-Silver Lake finished second with 351.5 points. On the girls' side, Willmar prevailed with 390 points to 358.5 for runner-up Hutchinson. Willmar advances to the Class A State True Team meet May 21 in Stillwater.

Popp was especially pleased with his team's performance despite the temperature in the upper 80's with high humidity and a stiff wind.

"I would guess that at least one-third of our team recorded season-best efforts yesterday," he remarked. "They were jacked for this meet and it showed. At least six of our eight throwers recorded season or lifetime bests. The same with our jumpers."

One top individual performance came from Rose Jackson, a sophomore who won the girls' 100, 200, long jump and was part of a relay team that finished second.

While the state meet in June awards individuals and a team championship in each class, a team can win a title with one or two athletes finishing high in more than one event because of the number of schools represented.

"Having one or two 'studs' does not have anything to with a team," Popp insisted. "Obviously, I believe in the team concept being more important than individuals. Our kids have bought into this. They compete unbelievably hard for a spot in this meet and would probably rather (compete) there than anywhere else."