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Track and Field: Tigers qualify record 4 events for state

The Tigers qualified a record four events for this weekend's Class AA State Meet -- a hurdler, a middle-distance runner, a pole vaulter and a relay -- and placed fourth in the 16-team field with 93 points. Last year's team finished sixth in the section and qualified two events for state, and the program was held without a state meet participant the three years before that.

"I was very happy with our entire team's performance at the meet... I can not ask any more of the team as they really showed up to compete," coach Tom Hart said. "We trained to peak for this meet and that is what happened."

The 4x800 relay team qualified for its second straight state meet by winning the section in a season-best time of 9 minutes, 32.10 seconds. Seniors Jackie Beckett and Kaitlin Mincke were joined by sophomore Nicole Clifton and eighth-grader Maria Kiminski, who weren't part of last year's 4x800 that placed fifth at the state meet in 9:29.27.

Mincke also qualified for state in the open 800, recovering from the 4x800 final in time to turn in a second-place 2:20.77 clocking. Beckett, a sixth-place finisher at state in the open 800 last spring, settled for third in 2:25.01.

Farmington's other state qualifiers will both be making their debuts at Hamline University. Senior Katrina Fitzgerald took advantage of her last chance at qualification by placing second in the pole vault with a height of 10-6 and freshman Alyssa Parco emerged to win a section title in the 300 hurdles with a time of 46.63. Fitzgerald ranks sixth out of 16 entrants in the pole vault and Parco's section time puts her in the middle of the pack.

The Tigers finished outside of the state qualifying standards, but turned in high finishes in the other three relays. The 4x100 came the closest to a berth, placing third in a time of 50.44 that was 77-hundredths of a second above the standard. The third-place 4x200 finished just over four seconds above the standard in 1:48.65 and the 4x400 ran to a fourth-place time of 4:16.77.

Two Farmington athletes also just missed state berths in individual events. Sprinter AJ Olatunji was sixth in the 200 in 26.25, less than a second slower than the 25.92 standard, and Erin Hickey had a breakout long jump of 17-0.5 that was less than four inches away.