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Boys track and field: Tigers crowd the podium en route to title

The Farmington Tigers boys track and field team won four events, but a number of athletes also placed in individual events.

Depth proved to be the difference-maker for the Farmington boys track team at last Thursday's Missota Conference Championships.

The Tigers won four events, but more importantly they placed multiple athletes in the top nine in nine different events as they moved up from a sixth-place finish last year to capture their third title in seven years at Chanhassen High School.

"Our goal was to finish in the top three. We had finished sixth last year, so this was obviously an improvement," Farmington coach Brian Helmstetter said. "Most of our juniors and seniors have been running in this meet since they were freshmen when we had thin numbers in our older grades. This means we now have experience and it is showing in these bigger meets.

We also had the goal of getting two or three on the podium (in each event) versus zero or one. That is how you will win the championship."

The Tigers did just that while racking up 192 points. Host Chanhassen led the rest of the eight-team field with 159 points.

In three of the meet's events, three different Farmington athletes scored points by placing in the top nine. In the 800, Tyler Lerbakken, Devon Webb and Jared Wolt crossed the finish line 3-4-5, all with times between 2:01 and 2:03. Tanner Thode, Michael Husnik and Godfrey Mpetey came in third, seventh and ninth, respectively, in the shot put, and CJ Wynings and Brendan King finished 3-4 in the discus with teammate Alexander Burton right behind in seventh.

Lerbakken, Webb and Wolt were also part of one of the Tigers' conference champion relays, joining Adam Dougherty for a season-best 8:11.84 clocking.

The 4x200 foursome of Mason Auge, Ryan Parco, Tommy Weigel and Tanner Grubb also grabbed gold in 1:32.20.

Justin Hyytinen and Nehemiah Rockett also earned conference titles for the Tigers. Hyytinen won the 1,600 in 4:32.24 and Rockett claimed the 300 hurdles in 41.01. Hyytinen added a runner-up finish in the 3,200, where he ran a personal-best time of 9:45.80, and Rockett was third in the 110 high hurdles and ninth in the triple jump, where teammate Mason Gaylord earned fifth.

Hyytinen also joined Lerbakken, Weigel and Grubb in the 4x400, where the Tigers earned second place in 3:27.83, just over a second off the pace of first-place Chaska.

The 4x100 foursome of Auge, Derek Klotter, Sean McHenry and Alex Chadwick added a third-place finish.

Auge added a fourth-place finish in the 100 and Grubb and Parco came in 2-6 in the 200, with Grubb running a personal-best 22.87. Weigel took a break from the relays to place fourth in the open 400 in 51.31.

Daniel Berg placed in three events. He was fifth in the high jump, where he cleared a personal-best 6-0, and teammate Wyatt Ferm reached a personal-best 6-1 to take third. Berg also chipped in with a sixth-place finish in the 300 hurdles and a ninth-place finish in the 110 hurdles.

Connor Phu added a fourth-place height of 12-0 in the pole vault and Adam Wallenta cut 22 seconds off his personal best to earn sixth in the 3,200 in 10:07.

"If you were to look at just individual improvements from last year to this year, it is impressive. Across every event these guys have improved," Helmstetter said. "I am proud of these boys and they have been fun to watch."

The Tigers will try to advance individuals and relays to the state meet at the Section 1AA Championships, which get under way today and conclude on Saturday at Lakeville South.