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Tracksters rise to the occasion

After his Farmington boys track team won the Austin Invitational two weekends ago, head coach Brian Helmstetter quickly looked ahead on the schedule to meets against even stiffer competition -- the Wildcat Invitational in Eagan and the Eden Prairie Invitational.

Helmstetter read off the list of teams at those meets -- Woodbury, Eagan, Bloomington Jefferson, Apple Valley, La Crosse Logan, Wayzata, Moorhead and defending true team state champion Eden Prairie -- and figured his athletes would have a good chance to see where they stood against some of the state's best. The results are in and the boys in black and orange certainly showed they belong.

The Tigers won seven events and claimed the team title with 143 points at Tuesday's Wildcat Invitational, then came back and finished just off the pace of Eden Prairie, 147.3-132, while fielding an incomplete lineup at Saturday's Eden Prairie Invitational.

"It was a great showing and our guys performed well, but they also know that if we each hit our PRs we could have made up the 15 points in a hurry," Helmstetter said. "We also had some of our athletes miss the meet because of prior commitments, which obviously would have made a difference."

One of the athletes who missed part of the meet was senior Josh Zitzmann, who was absent from the 300 hurdles after winning the 110 highs in 15.49 seconds. Zitzmann also joined Derek Waldbillig, Adam Sturm and Josh Jackson for a season-best time of 43.72 seconds in winning the 4x100 relay.

Jackson was once again a triple winner, claiming the 100 in 11.19 and turning in a 50-second split for the 4x400 relay that finished in a season-best time of 3:29. Andrew Thomas and Levi Freetly also ran legs of the relay, setting up Isaiah Rockett for a 52.3 split that got him to the finish line less than half a second ahead of second-place La Crosse Logan.

Rockett also anchored the 4x800 relay team of Freetly, David Zitzmann and Ryan Monroe to a second-place time of 8:22 and ran to a second-place finish in the open 400.

"Isaiah Rockett anchoring the 4x800 and 4x400 showed some guts and got the crowd on its feet for both of his finishes as he held off the competition to earn second and first," Helmstetter said. "The 4x400 was one of the most exciting races I have seen since head coaching at Farmington."

The Tigers were also second in the 4x200 relay where Waldbillig, Tyler Grubb, Ryan Farley and Adam Sturm turned in a time of 1:34.5. Sturm went on to claim individual gold in the 200 with a time of 23.38, half a second in front of Grubb, who finished sixth.

Farmington turned in the top performances in two of the meet's field events. Logan Hussung won the shot put by over three feet with a toss of 54-6 and Mike Amofah bested the field by over two feet with a leap of 43-4 3/4 in the triple jump.

Amofah was sixth in the long jump as well, finishing three spots behind Waldbillig's jump of 19-2 1/2.

Hussung tacked on a fourth-place spin of 141-9 against a competitive field in the discus.

In the high jump, seniors Jake Lippert and Nick Haugen tied for second as each cleared six feet.

The Tigers competed again Tuesday at the Missota Conference Relay Meet at Shakopee. They will have a week off before next Tuesday's Section 3AAA True Team Meet at Apple Valley.