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Track & Field: Cards seek more True Team success

Briana Sanchez / Tribune Ty Christianson runs in the 100 meter dash during the Section 6AA True Team Section Meet Tuesday, May 9, at Hodapp Field in Willmar.1 / 3
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Kyle Knofczynski takes the baton from Aden Aden during the Section 6AA True Team Section Meet Tuesday, May 9, at Hodapp Field in Willmar.2 / 3
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Willmar's Kacey Knofcynski clears 4 - feet 8 - inches on the high jump during the Section 6AA True Team Section Meet Tuesday, May 9, at Hodapp Field in Willmar.3 / 3

Willmar's track and field team has become something of a dynasty in recent years, running rampant through Section 6AA in large part due to the team's depth. That depth will be on display Tuesday afternoon at Hodapp Field in Willmar as the Cardinals look to grab yet another pair of Section 6AA True Team titles.

The girls took home the title for the eighth-consecutive year in 2017 and the boys finished in first place for the sixth time in eight years. The true team dominance has transcended section titles, too. The boys are the two-time defending true team champions at the Class AA state meet and the girls have finished as runners-up two years in a row. Their quest to make it back to the state meet in Stillwater begins Tuesday at the Section 6AA meet.

"If we only could win one meet a year, this would be the one we would pick," Willmar head coach Jerry Popp said following last year's meet. "It shows the true depth of your entire program as every competitor is scored in all events."

It is the depth that has allowed the Cardinals to replenish their top runners, throwers and leapers each year. Despite graduating a number of talented athletes, Willmar returns Heidi Schmitz, now a junior, who won the 3,200 meter run at the True Team state meet last year, as well as discus champion and shot put runner-up Cayle Hovland. On the boys side, Alec Nibaur will threaten at 110 meter hurdles yet again after winning the title last year.

Litchfield will also compete at the Section 6AA meet, having finished in fifth place for the girls division and sixth place in the boys division. Steven Orzolek won the shot put by more than three feet last year and will look to be near the top of the rankings yet again.

Orono finished in second place to the Cardinal girls last season, 91.5 points behind Willmar's mark of 629.5. On the boys side, Willmar won by more than 100 points over Hutchinson at second place in the 11-team meet.

Jake Schultz

Jake Schultz is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune, working his first job out of college. He graduated from St. John's University (CSB/SJU) in 2016 and is a baseball fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @StJake29. 

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