State Track and Field: Willmar athlete has some top-notch competition
The Cardinals' Sammy Christoffer has the top seed in the girls' long jump heading into the state Class AA championships Saturday at St. Michael.
WILLMAR — Sammy Christoffer has a busy Saturday ahead of her.
Christoffer competes in four events at the Class AA state track and field championship meet Saturday at St. Michael-Albertville High School. Willmar has 10 athletes that’ll try to win the school’s first state championship since Sophie Schmitz won the girls’ 800-meter run in 2017.
Christoffer is the top seed in the girls long jump with a distance of 18 feet, 4 inches. She’s also sixth in the 100-meter dash (12.23 seconds) and eighth in the 200 (25.46) while also anchoring the Cardinals’ 4x400 with Nina Dawson, Lyndi Koosman and Lauren Eilers.
The stage and the competition will be top-notch, but Christoffer was subdued about her big day.
“I just try to think of it as another meet, another four-event meet,” the Willmar junior said. “Nothing big.”
Said Willmar head track and field coach Mike Bobbe, “She’s the complete package. She has the athletic ability, but more than anything, the mental toughness. … She just wants to perform at the highest level at any event. She doesn’t have a bad practice or a down day. She works and works, and that’s something to be said combined with her athletic ability.”
And she’s peaking at the right time. Through the regular season, competition was limited to duals against Central Lakes Conference teams. But with all the CLC teams at the conference championship on June 3 in Sauk Rapids, Christoffer’s efforts took a leap. Hovering at 17-5 for much of the season, Christoffer hit the 18-foot mark in the long jump to win the CLC title. She also won the 200 that day at 27.04.
“My jaw just dropped,” Christoffer said after the 18-0 leap. “I was in complete shock. Coach K (jumps coach David Knutson) told us that it was going to be a good meet and the boards are totally different than ours. They have a spongy pad kind of over it in Sauk Rapids and he said all my jumpers get a good jump here. I thought OK, I’m feeling pretty good about this, and I go and jump 18.
“I didn’t see it coming, honestly.”
The coaches, they knew it was coming.
“For her jumps coach and I, it was like, finally,” Bobbe said. “Any time you hit an increment like that, it erases a mental barrier. I think she thought she could do it, but now it opens possibilities, like I hit 18, now I can go 19.”
Christoffer followed that by winning the long jump, the 100 and the 200 at the Section 8AA championship on June 12 in Fergus Falls. All three events resulted in personal bests.
“I would definitely say that,” Christoffer said when asked if she’s at her peak. “I was running mid-12s and higher 12s (in the 100) but at sections, I hit a PR with a 12.2. All season, I was in the 26s for the 200 and I finally broke 25 at sections. I feel like this is my point where I’m going down and getting better scores, and the state meet will have more competition.”
Christoffer and Maple Grove’s Delanie Siewert (18-1) are the only competitors seeded longer than 18 feet.
As for a fourth event, it was either the 400 as an individual or be part of the 4x400. She chose the relay and helped win a CLC title with a time of 4:09.21. In sections, the 4x400 relay placed second at 4:10.93.
“She really gave us a boost there and showed her versatility,” Bobbe said. “I think in college, the 400 would be a highlight for her because she has the speed and the stamina. She’s relentless and she has the capacity to go at that 400 combined with her speed in the 100.”
Bobbe added, “She’s a heck of an athlete and she’s really dialed in right now. … I expect her to exceed everything with the great competition at the state meet this year.”
The state track and field championship began Thursday with the 3,200. On Friday, Class A will compete, with Class AA going on Saturday. On both days, the boys competition will get underway at 10 a.m., followed by the girls at 3:30 p.m.
Along with Christoffer’s three solo events, the Willmar girls are seeded in the top five in two other events. In the first race of the day, the 4x800 relay, the quartet of Erin Eilers, Lauren Eilers, Dawson and Hannah Quinn has the fourth best seed time at 9:35.47. Wayzata is the top seed at 9:23.30.
In the high jump, Ava Brogren, along with Farmington’s Sophie Hart, have the fourth-best seed with a height of 5-4. Three girls — Cloquet’s Olivia Jameson, Eden Prairie’s Niamya Holloway and Minnetonka’s Winona Stone — are tied for the top seed at 5-5.
Dawson also competes in the 800.
“It’s going to be a fun day to watch all the events and see how they play out,” Bobbe said. “We’re not going to finish last in anything.”
For the Willmar boys, senior Sam May is a top-eight seed in all three of his events. He’s third in the 110 hurdles (14.90) with the top seed being George Jackson of Hopkins (14.21). May is the fourth seed in the 300 hurdles (40.40), with Lakeville North’s Jack Kocher as the top seed (39.02). And in the high jump, May is the eighth seed (6-3), with Cambridge-Isanti’s Jacob Ziebarth as the top seed (6-8).
“Sam has great potential in both of the hurdle races,” Bobbe said. “His 300, he won that by over a second (at sections). It’ll be interesting to see when he’s in a heat with other really talented kids.”
Also in the mix for the Willmar boys are Colin O’Farrell (800) and Aaron Watland (long jump).
In Class A boys Friday, Minnewaska’s Peyton and Connor Johnsrud are returning medalists from 2019. Peyton will try to take the high jump title after finishing second (6-7) behind Mounds Park Academy’s Yahya Madar (6-10). This spring, Peyton is the second seed (6-3) behind Rock Ridge’s Josh Creer-Oberstar (6-4).
Connor finished sixth in the triple jump (42-10.75), with Annandale’s Alan Luna winning (41-6.5) in 2019. This time around, Connor is the fourth seed (42-10) with Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton’s Joshua Finset as the top seed (45-3).
Other area top five seeds in Class A boys: Morris/Chokio-Alberta’s Kenny Soderberg in the 300 hurdles (1st, 40.40) and 110 hurdles (2nd, 15.45); MACCRAY/Renville County West’s Riley Ashburn in the high jump (t-4th, 6-1); and Litchfield’s Landon Wagner in the shot put (5th, 50-11.25).
The highest seeded area girls are the Minnewaska 4x800 relay team of Makena Thoen, McKenzie Luetmer, Kristen Glover and Olivia Danielson. The four Lakers are the second seed (9:46.66), with Albany being the top seed (9:44.06). In 2019, the Minnewaska 4x800 took second at 9:27.33, with Luverne winning at 9:22.92.
Other area top five seeds in Class A girls: Paynesville’s Rebekah Walz in the pole vault (t-2nd, 10-2); and Montevideo’s Avery Koenen in the triple jump (5th, 36-9.5).
Connor Johnsrud, Peyton Johnsrud and Kenny Soderberg were selected as nominees for the 2021 Mr. Minnesota Track and Field award, the Minnesota Track and Field Coaches Association announced on Thursday. The winners will be announced on Saturday at the Class AA state meet.
Other Mr. Track and Field nominees include: Zack McGlynn, West Marshall Fusion; Carson Kiehne, L/FC/MC; Jack Maxwell, International Falls; Austin Hunter, Minnetonka; Kobe Swanson, Mora; Marcus Hansen, Waseca; Jack McNamee, Nevis; Cole Berends, St. Charles; Luke Berends, St. Charles; Andrew Johnson, Mankato East; Justin Wang, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton; Godsword Simon, St. Paul Highland Park; Bryan Glomstad, Wayzata; and Bennett Tabor, Simley.
Ms. Track and Field nominees are: Mikelle Naatjes, Lakeville North; Toryn Richards, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown; Chloe Hughes, Winona; Gracie Zewiske, Luverne; Brooklyn Brouse, Thief River Falls; Regan Felt, Luverne; Maia Peterson, Stewartville; Lindsey Root, St. Charles; Katie Lambrecht, Byron; Analee Weaver, Stillwater; Katie Carlson, Simley; Abby Hepper, Simley; and Nyalaam Jok, Annandale.
Area state track competitors
(at St. Michael-Albertville High School)
Boys, 10 a.m.
AREA ATHLETES COMPETING:
4x800 Relay: LQPV/D-B (Caleb Johnson, Hunter Martinson, Darius Fenske, Payton Sterud); CMCS; (Jeremy Brown, Abe Larson, Mason Groen, Ben Van Eps)
100 Hurdles: Kenny Soderberg (Morris/CA)
100 Dash: Ethan Lebrija (Morris/CA)
1,600 Run: Darius Fenske (LQPV/D-B)
4x100 Relay: Morris/CA (Kenny Soderberg, Derek Waldbeser, Trey Hunt, Ethan Lebrija)
300 Hurdles: Silas Whitebuffalo (YME); Kenny Soderberg (Morris/CA)
800 Run: Ben Van Eps (CMCS)
200 Dash: Ethan Lebrija (Morris/CA)
High Jump: Riley Ashburn (MACCRAY/RCW); Peyton Johnsrud (Minnewaska)
Pole Vault: Austin Frank (BOLD/BLHS)
Long Jump: Riley Ashburn (MACCRAY/RCW)
Triple Jump: Ben Van Eps (CMCS); Connor Johnsrud (Minnewaska)
Discus: T.J. Christensen (Litchfield); Francis O’Malley (Montevideo)
Shot Put: Francis O’Malley (Montevideo); Landon Wagner (Litchfield)
Girls, 3:30 p.m.
4x800 Relay: Minnewaska (Makena Thoen, McKenzie Luetmer, Kristen Glover, Olivia Danielson)
100 Dash: Lydia Fynboh (Morris/CA); Emily Kaiser (Minnewaska)
4x200 Relay: Litchfield (Lillia Chvatal, Raina Kaping, Lily Osterberg, Vail Kaping)
4x100 Relay: Minnewaska (Masie Jordan, Mya Lindemann, Ava Chevalier, Emily Kaiser); Morris/CA (Olivia Lebrija, Crystal Nohl, Ruby Swenson, Lydia Fynboh)
400 Dash: McKenzie Luetmer (Minnewaska)
300 Hurdles: Emma Kovarik (Minnewaska); Kaylie Raths (Morris/CA); Avery Koenen (Montevideo)
800 Run: Olivia Danielson (Minnewaska)
200 Dash: Emily Kaiser (Minnewaska); Jessica Novotny (BOLD/BLHS)
4x400 Relay: Minnewaska (McKenzie Luetmer, Makena Thoen, Kristen Glover, Olivia Danielson)
High Jump: Avery Koenen (Montevideo)
Pole Vault: Rebekah Walz (Paynesville)
Long Jump: Avery Koenen (Montevideo)
Triple Jump: Avery Koenen (Montevideo)
Discus: Metaya Jergenson (Minnewaska)
(at St. Michael-Albertville High School)
Boys, 10 a.m.
110 Hurdles: Sam May (Willmar)
300 Hurdles: Sam May (Willmar)
800 Run: Colin O’Farrell (Willmar)
High Jump: Sam May (Willmar)
Long Jump: Aaron Watland (Willmar)
Girls, 3:30 p.m.
4x800 Relay: Willmar (Erin Eilers, Lauren Eilers, Nina Dawson, Hannah Quinn)
100 Dash: Sammy Christoffer (Willmar)
800 Run: Nina Dawson (Willmar)
200 Dash: Sammy Christoffer (Willmar)
4x400 Relay: Willmar (Nina Dawson, Lyndi Koosman, Lauren Eilers, Sammy Christoffer)
High Jump: Ava Brogren (Willmar)
Long Jump: Sammy Christoffer (Willmar)
NOTE: There will be no cash purchases onsite. All tickets can be purchased online at www.mshsl.org/state-tournament-tickets.