Blaine’s Ayuk Tambe hopes to run the race of a lifetime this weekend at the Class AA state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul.
He heads to the state meet as the defending state champion in the 100-meter dash, but in a race that’s separated by hundredths of a second, he knows those split seconds provide large rooms for error.
He has some tough competition this year with several breaking the 11-second barrier.
“I think this year the level of competition in the 100 meters is much better than last year,” Blaine head coach Robert Nick said. “I think it makes it harder for him to win back to back titles, but at the same time Ayuk has really come on lately.”
Tambe ran a personal record 10.87 seconds at the Section 5AA meet.
“He is a big meet kid,” Nick said. “If he runs his race and stays relaxed I think he is really tough to beat. What make him special is his start and his turnover. If there were a 50-meter dash I would say Ayuk would be unbeatable. In 12 years of coaching I have never had a kid get out of blocks as well as he does.”
He’s not a prototypical sprinter standing at 5 feet, 4 inches, but his legs can cycle through with great speed.
He’s not the only one looking for a top spot on the podium on Saturday. Robert Copeland is a dark horse to place well in the 110 hurdles. At sections, he ran a sub-15 second hurdles, but it wasn’t perfect.
“He could be a low 14-second guy,” Nick said.
The 4×100 relay with Kunle Ayinde, Patrick Mendin, Joeseph Robel and Tambe will also give it a run at Hamline and Mendin will take off on his own in the 200 dash.
In the field, Ayinde is high jumping while Chris McLeod will toss the discus.
The Blaine sprinters will be on display at the girls’ meet. The 4×200 features Kiersten Falck, Britney Monteon, Courtney Purcell and Morgan Taylor. The 4×100 is highlighted by Alyssa Nebo, Monteon, Purcell and Morgan. Both hope to dash to the top five on the podium.
Morgan will sprint on her own in the 100. Teammate Marissa Eggerichs qualified in the long jump as well.
Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony
The Panther boys won second place in Section 5AA team competition, with CJ Janu setting the mark, winning the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles events with record-setting times.
Although disappointed with his performance in the preliminaries, Janu felt he turned things around in the finals.
“My preliminary races were far from what I wanted to do,” Janu said. “I clipped a hurdle in the 110s badly almost falling and mistimed the 300 race. As for the finals, I ran pretty smooth in the 110s. I got off to a rather slow start but ended up making up for it in the end by running a 14.64. As for the 300s, I ran a virtually flawless race for myself and won that with a 38.74.”
Janu’s winning time in the 300 hurdles broke an all-time school record set back in 1977.
Janu also ran as part of Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony’s 4×200-meter relay team, which took first place, beating Anoka’s relay team by a full second and setting a new school record.
Also heading to state representing Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony is David Shadduck in the 200-meter dash, and Bryant Ikier in pole vault.
For the girls, JoLynn Super will compete in the 800-meter wheelchair race.
For the Cardinals, Jason Lilja qualified in the high jump, while Lucas Osowski will toss around the shot put.
On the girls’ team, Nicole Christianson has a chance to high jump into the top eight. Winning the sections, she jumped two inches lower than the state leader Morgan Pieri from Lakeville South. Courtney Pasiowitz has been throwing with the best of them in the shot put. She has a chance to get on the podium as well.
Teammate Amber Harris is running the 300 hurdles against several tough competitors.
Cole Boughner is a contender in the 200 as one of the top three seeds. He’ll also help the 4×200 along with Anthony Erickson, Brandon Lindquist and Stewart Heltemes try to break into the finals. Mustaful Strong hopes to land a top triple jump.
For the girls, Katelyn Fritz is in the running for a spot on the podium in the 3,200.
Editor’s note: Sue Austreng also contributed to this story. She is at [email protected].
Andy Rogers is at [email protected]