Track and field: Willmar Cardinals send 5 to state

Jun. 2—COLD SPRING — Will Sporel's day could have started in disaster.

He kicked off Saturday's Section 8AA track and field championship meet with the 110-meter hurdles. The Willmar senior ended up hitting the first hurdle, which could have ended his hopes of qualifying for state in the 110 for the first time.

Instead, he kept his balance and finished second with a personal-best time of 15.23 seconds, putting him in the state tournament.

"To bounce back from that, qualify and PR, it's really great," Sportel said.

He's one of five Cardinals that qualified for the Class AA state championship meet. The Class AA meet kicks off at St. Michael-Albertville High School with prelims at 9 a.m. Friday and the championship at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Sportel also qualified in the 300 hurdles after taking second in 39.98.

"The 110 almost determines how I'm feeling about the rest of the day," Sportel said. "I feel like over the past few weeks especially, I've progressed a lot in the 110."

Along with Sportel, Willmar is sending Sully Anez, Tyler Evans, Lyndi Koosman and Lauren Eilers to the state meet.

And like Sportel, Eilers and Anez go to state with an extra event compared to 2023. After winning the 3,200 at 11:04.74 during section prelims Wednesday, Eilers placed second in the 1,600 at 5:05.91. Anez took second in the 1,600 at 4:19.50 and was third in the 3,200 at 9:23.81 on Wednesday.

"Lauren just missed out on the mile last year and she's now less than a second away from the school record, which is huge," said Cardinals head coach Connor Haugen. "Great to send Sully in the mile as well. He didn't run it last year."

Koosman locked up a pair of state berths Saturday. She was second in the triple jump at 36 feet, 9.25 inches and second in the pole vault at 11-1.

"I'm happy that I'm making it," Koosman said. "I wish I did a little better in my field events but I'm glad to be back at state and competing again."

Evans locked up his state trip Wednesday after taking second in the boys' pole vault at 12-11.

The Willmar boys placed third in the team standings with 68 points. The girls finished fifth with 55. Alexandria swept the team competition, with the boys scoring 144 and the girls scoring 188.

"Overall, it was a good day," Haugen said. "There were some sad moments and some near-misses, but that's going to happen at a championship meet."

New London-Spicer's Emma Madsion, Danica Pederson and Carter Herman also secured state berths.

Madison hit the Class AA standard in the girls' 100 dash with a fourth-place time of 12.66. Peterson qualified for the girls' high jump on Wednesday after clearing 5-1, good for ninth place and beating the standard. Herman locked up a spot in the boys' triple jump Wednesday with a fourth-place leap of 42-10.5 that beat the standard.

The Wildcat girls finished 10th with 11 points while the boys tied for 11th with 11 points.