Mitchell Valli of Buffalo won the boys' pole vault with a height of 15 feet, 7 and 1/2 inches (Richard Sennott/Star Tribune photo). ,
Buffalo’s Mitch Valli watched two years ago as Lee Bares of Lakeville South won the pole vault at the Class 2A state track and field meet.
The situation was much different Friday. Valli cleared a record height of 15 feet, 7 ½ inches at Hamline University. Bares, who failed to qualify for state and defend two consecutive titles, was out of sight but on Valli’s mind.
“It feels pretty awesome because I’d never won a championship,” said Valli, before adding, “But it stinks that Lee isn’t here to compete against.”
Valli’s mark is the best ever recorded at a state meet, though Blake’s Grant Krieger set a new all-time standard with a vault of 16 feet earlier this spring. Krieger’s record came one week after Bares soared to a then-record 15-9, setting in motion what the trio hoped would be a busy spring of one-upmanship culminating with a state meet showdown.
After clinching a state title, Valli moved the bar to 16-1 for a shot at Krieger’s record. He failed on all three attempts and believed Bares’ presence would have helped.
“I was really looking forward to going at 16-1 with somebody else,” Valli said. “Competition always makes everything better.”
Said Bares on Friday: ““Mitch is the one guy in the senior class I really wanted to see win it. I’m really happy for him.”
Krieger won his third consecutive Class 1A pole vault crown on Friday with a mark of 15-6, breaking his previous Class 1A state meet record. He took three attempts at 16-1 but did not clear the bar.”
Hurdle hurts Hauger
Jogging backward to warm up for the 4x400-meter relay at the Missota Conference meet, Shakopee senior Maria Hauger didn’t see the hurdle in her path until she was on the ground in tears.
“It was horrible,” said Hauger, who landed square on her tailbone. “I seriously didn’t know I was going to run the section meet until I got there and was on the line. That’s why my section times were so slow.”
Any doubts about Hauger’s health were squashed on the second turn of the first lap in Friday’s 3,200-meter run. The state’s most decorated distance runner took the lead and never looked back en route to her second consecutive title and third overall.
Her time of 10 minutes, 26.39 seconds was almost 10 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Danielle Anderson of Eagan (10:35.53).
Last fall Hauger became the first runner to claim four consecutive Class 2A cross country state titles. And she is not finished. Hauger is favored to defend her 1,600 title Saturday.
In Class 1A, Blake junior Clare Flanagan defended her 3,200 state title, winning in 10:27.85.
Ali finishes with a flourish
Richfield junior Obsa Ali gave a quick look over each shoulder as he blazed down the home stretch of Friday’ 3,200-meter run. Seeing no one closing, Ali let his tongue hang out in early celebration.
Ali, in just his second year of distance running, topped a talented field in a 2A state meet record time of 8:57.07. The all-time record of 8:43.09 was set in 2007 by Winona’s Elliott Heath.
Patience, aided by a ferocious kick, helped Ali prevail. He stayed near the lead pack as Stillwater’s Eric Colvin, Wayzata’s Connor Olson and Chaska’s Joey Duerr tried their best to stay in front.
All three finished ahead of Ali at the Hamline Elite Meet in April but Ali knew he was capable of something extra in the rematch.
“I knew with 400 meters to go that if I was still in the race I believed in my kick,” Ali said.
Ewen dominant in discus
For St. Francis senior Maggie Ewen, who has broken her own all-time state record in discus throw several times in the past two seasons, Friday’s Class 2A state competition brought its usual fanfare.
Spectators stood two and three deep on two sides of the sector, some quietly sharing with others their hopes for another record throw. While Ewen did win her fourth consecutive state title with a mark of 167 feet, 1 inch, she could not approach her all-time record of 175-9.
No matter. Ewen was excited to end the discus throw portion of her career with another state title.
“I can’t wrap my head around that it is my senior year and that I won’t be back here next year but I’m glad it ended how it did,” said Ewen, who is favored to win a third consecutive shot put title Saturday and could break the 10-year-old all-time record.