Qualifying for their first every Class 3A state True Team boys track and field meet was one thing for Champlin Park.
But as the Rebels found out when they arrived in Stillwater May 17, thriving in the most competitive team setting they have ever seen is certainly something else.
Expectations were high on the bus ride. By sundown, after a cold and rainy evening, reality had set in.
“The teams here are pretty good,” said head coach Bob Knutson. “You have to come ready to compete, and we didn’t perform very well.”
The onus of the True Team experience is on every participating member to accumulate points.
Wayzata, the favorite heading into the event, ended up with 830 of them, edging host Stillwater by 27 points for what was the Trojans first True Team state championship.
Champlin Park recorded 607.5 points, which was only good enough for seventh place in the nine-school event.
The Rebels did lose a shot at 27 more points, which would have been rewarded for first place in the high jump, after Michael Sales injured himself in the long jump competition.
Sales still placed second in the long jump, but was unable to compete in the high jump. Stillwater’s Connor O’Neil was the high jump winner after clearing 6 feet, 2 inches.
Sales’ season best is 6-6.
“It was a blow,” said Knutson. “Hopefully Michael gets healthy for [this] week, because we really need him in that high jump.”
This week brings the Northwest Suburban Conference championships at Coon Rapids High School. Preliminary events will be held May 21, with the finals being contested Thursday, May 23.
It didn’t take long late Friday for Champlin Park to switch its attention to that meet.
“We weren’t able to achieve the success we wanted today,” said senior Emmanuel Egbujor. “Now we will go after the conference.”
Egbujor is the likely favorite in the 100, 200 and 400-meter runs in the NWSC after placing second in all three races at the state True Team meet.
Other individual highlights from Friday included Joe Sando finishing second in the 100 and ninth in the 200, as well as Zach Johnson setting a new personal best in placing seventh in the 800.
Joe Stephens was Champlin Park’s lone winner, taking the shot put with a throw of 57 feet, 9.5 inches that was a personal best for him and just a half-inch off the school record.
“In conditions like this, that is pretty impressive,” said Knutson.
Tim Ross turned in a pair of top-10’s in the throws, placing fourth in the discus and ninth in the shot put.
Taylor Abram was fifth in the triple jump and seventh in the high jump. John Horton was seventh in the long jump, Jeremy Johnson was fifth in the high jump and Datrice Mulsumo was eighth in the 100.
“This was important for us,” said Egbujor. “First and foremost, this is the very first time we have come to the state True Team meet, and that was important for our school. We had some momentum from the section meet. Now we have to keep it going. We are not done yet.”
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