The Rosemount Irish girls' track and field team trailed by 10.25 points heading into their last event, the 4x400-meter relay. Second place, only worth 10 points, would not be enough. The team of seniors Lauren Peterson and Amber Johnson, and freshmen Ava Cinnamo and Jenna Johnson had to win to take home a Class AA girls' state track and field championship.
They had set a personal record the day before and proceeded to run a time of 3 minutes, 51.89 seconds in the championship race to beat that PR by almost seven seconds and set a new Rosemount school record. They beat runner-up Wayzata by more than three seconds to secure the state championship.
"I'm so proud of these girls, they competed so hard," girls' head coach Sara Hatleli said. "It came down to that last race and before they came out I went and talked to them, 'ok we're down 10.25, you win we win, that's what it's going to come down to' and oh my gosh they competed. They were unreal, they cut off seven seconds. They ran their personal best yesterday and then (they cut off seven seconds)."
"Every girl ran a great leg, I think when Lauren (Peterson) came around in that second leg and took the lead, I knew that we definitely had a chance," she said. "I feel like every leg just kept getting better and better, they ran unreal."
You could tell the result had not quite sunk in for Sara Hatleli, despite bringing back much of last year's team that took third. However, knowing you have a chance at a state championship is a far cry from the aftermath of actually winning one.
"I think I'm still on cloud nine, we knew we had a lot of talent coming back (from last year) and this is just icing on the cake. To win True Team state, conference, sections and now state high school league state, you can't get any better than that right?"
Meanwhile, the Rosemount boys' were Class AA boys' runners-up and ended up trailing champion Hopkins by just two points. Hopkins had to win their own 4x400 relay event to surpass the Irish, otherwise the boys would have been champions as well and it would have been a clean sweep for Rosemount. Boys' head coach Jay Hatleli said that the result was the very peak of what he could have hoped for.
"At this meet with such a slim margin, scoring points is hard, especially scoring big points, and our guys scored big points," he said. "It seemed like for a while there we were going third, third, fourth, just piling up big points. And then Max (Otterdahl) goes out and gets 24 by himself, and it got to be about halfway through the day and I was like 'we're going to score a lot of points in this meet and give ourselves a chance.' We absolutely maximized our potential."
Jay Hatleli praised both the reliability of his older athletes like Otterdahl and senior Luke Labatte, while also saying how big it was for some of the younger ones who stepped up.
"It was kind of the way you always hope it works out. When you've got Max and Luke Labatte and the senior guys that have been there, done it and they did their thing," he said. "But you've also got sophomores like Brian Boakye-Ansah, like Prince Nti and Jonathan (Mann) and those guys. Getting to finals, getting to the finals of the AA 100-meter dash is a big deal. Those guys springboarding into next year, this is invaluable what they did today."
Otterdahl and Peterson bring home the hardware
It is probably not possible to have better state meets than seniors Lauren Peterson and Max Otterdahl had over the course of June 7-8 at Hamline University. On day one, Otterdahl captured his second-straight shot put state championship with a throw of 64 feet, 4 inches, breaking his own school record and improving his mark from last year by almost 6 feet.
"This year I was not new to the spin like I was last year," Otterdahl said about his shot put performance. "Last year, the state meet was the first meet I spun in and the only meet I spun in my junior year. This year I've been using the spin technique all year, getting it down and learning a lot, I'm still learning."
The next day, he showed that his seventh-place finish in the discus in 2018 amidst storms and downpours was a fluke, dominating with a throw of 191-4 to win the discus state championship as well. The next closest competitor was almost 15 feet less.
"This year I just needed to prove to the state I'm one of the top throwers in the discus," Otterdahl said. "It feels really good, I'm still shaking from it, the last throw. I mean me and my coaches love to say 'last throw, best throw' at the end of every practice and at the end of every meet. It really came true today and it was awesome."
Otterdahl was not the only one with a clean sweep of their events, however. Peterson continued an absolutely dominant senior year by winning the 3,200 on Friday with a time of 10:38.03 after she was the runner-up behind Emily Covert of Minneapolis Washburn the year before. On Saturday, she won the 1,600 with a time of 4:52.69 to end her high school career as the state champion in both long-distance events.
"I'm happy and relieved that all my hard work finally came together for this meet," Peterson said after the 1,600. "I was a little nervous going in but as soon as I got onto the track I felt confident that I could win."
Peterson and Covert have both always been at the top of the biggest stages for cross-country and track and she admitted that getting the win in the 3,200 over Covert added some sweetness to the victory.
"She's such a great competitor, we've gone back and forth since like seventh grade, so it was exciting to get the win," Peterson said.
Full finals results
Senior Luke Labatte ended a phenomenal prep career with the Irish on a high note as he took fourth in the 3,200 with a time of 9:20.66 and then third in the 1,600 in 4:14.74.
"I mean, just the thought that it was my last high school race, put it all out on the line," Labatte said about having a little extra in the tank for the 1,600. "I knew everybody was going to be tired except Austin and Eli, they didn't run yesterday, so I knew they would be fresh. I just went into it just giving my best."
Despite having a state championship elude him, Labatte seemed satisfied with his running career at Rosemount.
"Yeah, a state title would have been nice but there are so many fast guys in my class," he said. "I'm really happy I PR'd in four different events, so I'm really happy with that and overall I had a great career."
For the day one field events, senior Arianna Passeri took third in the long jump with a leap of 17-11. In the high jump, junior Lauren Preiner tied for third with a jump of 5-4 and senior Alexys Berger was 16th with a mark of 5 feet. Junior Cameron Schulz took 12th in the pole vault with a vault of 13 feet. Other preliminary results were: Passeri took 14th in the 100 prelims with a time of 12.55, Jenna Johnson finished 10th with a time of 58.58 in the 400 and the girls' 4x200 relay team finished 10th in 1:43.92.
Day two saw the second half of the field events and the finals for the relays and sprinting events. Junior Prince Nti took sixth in the 100 with a time of 11.04, junior Jonathan Mann was the runner-up in the 110 hurdles in 14.53 and Cinnamo took fourth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44 seconds flat while senior Rose Sieve placed ninth (45.85).
Sophomore Brian Boakye-Ansah took third in the 400 with a time of 49.30, the boys' 4x200 relay team of Ansah, Nti, Mann and junior Mason McDonald-which set a school record in the prelims with a time of 1:28.39-finished third in 1:28.63 and the boys' 4x800 relay team of junior Elkane Vianney Mooh, senior Getinat Asfaw, junior Daniel Cox and senior Payne Freske placed third (7:53.46).
The girls' 4x800 relay team of sophomore Makayla Bishop, seventh grader Daisy Islas, sophomore Lucy Jagoe and eighth grader Taylor Heimerl took 14th with a time of 9:58.50; Berger was once again runner-up in the girls' pole vault with a vault of 11-9 and senior Tierra Doss placed fifth in the girls' shot put with a throw of 41-1.25.