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Beckett, 4x800 will represent Tigers at state championships

For the first time since 2004, the orange and black of Farmington High School will circle the track in the girls portion of the Class AA State track and field Meet.

Junior Jackie Beckett blazed to a season-best time of 2:18 in the preliminaries of the 800 at last Thursday's Section 1AA Championships at Lakeville South, then came back with a 2:21.19 that was good enough to win the next day's final and earn a state berth. She also led off the 4x800 relay, which finished first by two-hundredths of a second over runner-up Lakeville North, 9:35.97 to 9:35.99. Beckett, freshman Devyn Alberts, eighth grader Bailey Opsal and junior Kaitlin Mincke became the first Farmington relay team to qualify for state since coach Tom Hart joined the program in 1997. The relay's season-best clocking ranks sixth among nine teams entering the 4x800.

Beckett became the first Farmington female athlete to qualify for state in an individual event since Orion Walker competed in the 200-meter dash in 2004. The two state-qualifying events highlighted a sixth-place finish for the Tigers. Their 50.5 points were 12.5 off the pace of fifth-place Rochester Mayo and just ahead of seventh-place Winona and eighth-place Red Wing. Lakeville North won the meet with 85.5 points, while Owatonna and Lakeville South each finished with 76 points.

"Overall, this was a good meet for us and it was the highest we have finished in a very tough section for as long as I can remember," Hart said. "Many of our athletes PR'd, so we are very happy that they put in their best performances."

While the Tigers came away with good news in the 800 and 4x800, there were four other races where very strong performances finished just shy of state meet qualifications -- the 400, 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400.

In the open 400, freshman Nicole Clifton turned in a prelim time that ranked her second, then ran a 59.58 in the finals that left her third. Rochester Mayo runners claimed the top two spots with times of 58.39 and 59.48.

The three relays were just as close, missing three state-qualifying times by a combined 6.19 seconds. The 4x400 finished second behind Mayo in 4:04.32, and the 4x100 and 4x200 each placed third in times of 50.42 and 1:46.81, respectively.

None of Farmington's other events challenged for state spots, but a slew of top 10 finishes did help the Tigers move up to sixth in the section team standings. Amy Kiminski finished seventh in the long jump with a personal-best jump of 16-5, Opsal reached the finals and placed eighth in the 800, Mincke's 5:34.73 clocking was good enough for eighth in the 1,600 and eighth-grader Betsy Anderson earned ninth in the 300 hurdles and 12th in the 100 hurdles.

In the pole vault, Katrina Fitzgerald and Alex Johnson each cleared nine feet to earn ninth and 11th, respectively. Tenth-place showings came from Abby Kenealy in the high jump and Callie Doffing in the 200. AJ Olatunji and Rilee Carufel each ran personal-best times in taking 13th and 15th in the 100.

Personal records were also obtained in the triple jump where Roxanne Desseyn (32-10) and Amanda Mohr (32-0) each cleared 32 feet.

The Class AA State track and field Meet gets underway Friday at Hamline University in St. Paul.

Team Standings

1. Lakeville North 85.5

2. Owatonna 76

3. Lakeville South 76

4. Waseca 75

5. Mayo 63

6. Farmington 50.5

7. Winona 49

8. Red Wing 48

9. Northfield 35.5

10. Faribault 30

11. John Marshall 29

12. Hastings 22

13. Century 20.5

14. Austin 17

15. Dover/Eyota 16

16. Albert Lea 9