Boys track and field: Trojans, Panthers hit perfect endings

ST. PAUL — There was Pine Island senior Kyle Groven and Mitchel Acker, striking gold on the final two events they'll ever do at the high school level.

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Rushford-Peterson/Houston’s Noah Carlson wins the long jump on Saturday at Hamline.

ST. PAUL — Storybook ending.

That's not how things normally wind up. But for a pair of teams and a handful of individuals from the Rochster-area, storybook was the only way to describe how things concluded for them at Saturday's state Class A boys track and field meet at Hamline University.

There was Pine Island senior Kyle Groven and Mitchel Acker, striking gold on the final two events they'll ever do at the high school level.

There was Rushford-Peterson/Houston do-everything guy Noah Carlson, jumping and running to more state championship medals, giving him three total for the meet.

And, finally, there was Rushford-Peterson/Houston attaining its ultimate goal of winning the state Class A team championship. They did it by the slimmest of margins against that very team that includes stars Groven and Acker, Pine Island.


R-P/H finished first with 57 points, Pine Island second with 55.

When the results sifted in, R-P/H's big man and big point getter Matt Culhane was spotted — all 6-foot-9, 300-pounds of him — jumping for joy, pumping his right arm in celebration and yelling "Let's go!!!!"

The Trojans had done it. And Culhane, with his second-place finish in the discus (161-4) Saturday and second place in the shot put (56-6 1/2) Friday, had been a large part of it.

"To finish my career with two second-place state finishes, two school records (178-feet-1 in the discus this season and 56-6 1/2 in the shot put), and now a state team championship, it's incredible," Culhane said. "Not a bad way to go out."

Carlson isn't ready to go out, yet. He's got another year to perform before he graduates, which isn't good news for anyone in Class A hoping to win the long jump or triple jump state titles next year, or the 200, for that matter.

But this team championship, it was his No. 1 goal.

He went the furthest toward bringing it to the Trojans. He sailed a personal-best 23-1/4 to win Saturday's long jump title, and won the 200 in 22.38 (he'd gone a personal-best 22.04 in Friday's preliminaries). Friday, he cleared 48-2 to win the triple jump.

"I am happiest to win the championship as a team," Carlson said. "That's the biggest thing for me."


Next year he'll be happy if he can take his awesome abilities up another notch, when he tries to make it three straight years of sweeping the state triple jump and long jump.

Carlson is eyeing a 49-foot triple jump, which would be a Class A state record. And he wants the Rushford-Peterson long jump school record of 24-1/2, set by Robby Bunke in 1992. If he can do that in the state meet, it would easily be a Class A record.

As for Groven and Acker, Saturday was pure bliss. Groven was entered at state in three events, the 100, 400 and 1,600 relay. He started with a respectable third-place finish in the 100, then won titles in the latter two. That included a 1,600 relay that was literally the last event of the meet.

Groven ran an 11.29 100 in an event that was stacked with talented Section 1A runners (Dover-Eyota's Payton Schott, sixth, 11.36; Stewartville's Isaiah Jacobsen, eighth, 11.43: and Plainview-Elgin-Millville's Tysen Schmidt, ninth, 11.45).

"It just shows you high Section 1A ranks when you've got four guys in the top nine," Groven said. "It's incredible."

The section also showed well in the 200, with Carlson winning it, P-E-M's Schmidt finishing fourth and D-E's Schott fifth.

Groven waited until much later in the afternoon to capture his first-ever state individual crown. It came in the 400, with him crossing the line in 48.61. Lewiston-Altura's Brad Miller wasn't far behind, fourth in 50.42.

"I'd been training for five years to win this race," Groven said. "This is a perfect way to do it, to win it in my senior year."


Things got even more perfect to end Pine Island's day. But that didn't come before Acker had corralled his first state title. He did it in the 800, an event he'd had back-to-back third-place state finishes the last two years.

This time, he turned in his fastest state-finals clocking ever, a 1:55.39, which was just off the time (1:54.93) he ran in Friday's prelims.

"This is super satisfying," said Acker, whose junior teammate Jack Williams also ran a stellar race, timed in 1:57.75 for fourth. "This is what my coach (Pine Island's Matt Northrop) had envisioned for me since the seventh grade."

But he and Groven still weren't done. The foursome of Acker, Tristan Akason, Williams and Groven ended the day in the grandest of styles. Those first three runners kept Pine Island at or near the lead through their legs of the race, before the baton was passed to anchor-man Groven.

"There was no way I wasn't going to hang on and make sure we won this," Groven said. "I had to do it for my teammates."

Pine Island got it done, Groven finishing with arms spread way out in celebration, as he crossed the line in first place. The Panthers had finished in a season-best 3:25.81.

More Section 1A highlights

Peter Torkelson had never been to state before. Now, after a crack at it Saturday, he knows just how tough the competition is.


Still, he fared well. The Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostander/Kingsland/Southland junior (from Southland) finished third in the 1,600 in 4:25.77. That was a personal best and set a GMLOKS record.

Torkelson thought he might be on the verge of landing in the two two. But just when he started to take off in the final lap, so did the top two finishers. Winning time was 4:22.22 by Montevideo's Kurt TeBeest.

La Crescent's Matt Steiger was just behind Torkelson, in fifth (4:26.31).

• The La Crescent combination of Zack Hanno, Tanner Duffy, Luke Fechner and Sam Breuer kept up their season-long blitz in the 400 relay. They finished second to Foley with a 43.67 time.

• Stewartville got a fourth (800 relay) and a seventh (400 relay), as well as a third-place finish from discus thrower Garret Nosbisch. A senior, Nosbisch threw it 160-6. The 800 relay consisted of Jordan Johnson, Dylan Flink, Connor Ford and Isaiah Jacobsen.

Rushford-Peterson/Houston’s Matt Culhane took second in the discus throw on Saturday. He was also second in the shot put.

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