PREVIEW: MSHSCA True Team State Championships

Ada-Borup's hurdler and jumper Luke Heitman is be one of the top individuals in the Class A boys meet (Photo provided by Luke Heitman)

A Boys

Participating Teams And Their Coaches

Section 1A: St. Charles - Eric Klein

Section 2A: Blue Earth Area - Tom Plocker

Section 3A: Luverne - Pete Janiszeski

Section 4A: Maple Lake - Ben Youngs

Section 5A: Holdingford - Kelly Kobernusz

Section 6A: Wadena - Deer Creek- Marc Reynolds

Section 7A: Moose Lake/Willow River - Tony Adres

Section 8A: Ada/Norman County- Kevin Lindell

Wild Card: Pine Island - Matt Northrop

This year's Class A boys meet is a picture-perfect example of why Minnesota adopted the True Team format back in 1987 to determine the state's best overall team. There are very few athletes competing who are true contenders to place in June's Class A State Championships, but each of these teams contains quality up and down its roster. Surely, there are a number of athletes such as Ada-Borup's Luke Heitman, Holdingford's Drew Dockendorf, and Moose Lake's Sam Coil who could potentially score their respective teams some serious points in a few weeks, but it is not solely from the strength of those athletes that got their teams to this competition. Instead, the outcome of this meet is going to be defined by the likes of Blue Earth Area's Gunnar Fering, Maple Lake's Jason Webb, or Saint Charles' Axel Daoodvery good athletes with great potential whose performances could make the difference between their teams scoring 18 points or eight points. This is the time for these athletes to be their teams' greatest assets while on the biggest stage of the season so far.

By the numbers, the top team in the field is Holdingford High School. Winners of this competition in 2014 and 2015, as well as the third-place finisher last year, Holdingford has at least one athlete who can score well in every single event. Its biggest asset is sprinter and jumper Blake Patrick. Among all the athletes on these nine teams, he has the best performance this year in the 100, 200, 400, and long jump, plus one of the top five triple jumps. Of course, he can only compete in four events including relays, so it will be interesting to see coach Kelly Kobernusz's strategy in choosing which events he competes. Vaulter Drew Dockendorf, middle-distance runner Lucas Ryan, and throwers Joseph Meier and Caeleb Johnson will also be key scorers for Holdingford, while the biggest difference-makers could be hurdler/jumper Nick Kruger, jumper/thrower Adam Ripplinger, and sprinter/relay runner Tyson Patrick.

Saint Charles and Pine Island are the teams most likely to unseat Holdingford from its position as the favorite. Both are representing True Team Section 1A (with Pine Island winning the wild card). Saint Charles' key source for points will be sprinter/jumpers Ben Quigley and Isaac Davidson and its top-ranked 4x800 squad (along with the individual events of the runners competing on it), while Pine Island will hope to score as much as possible from its hurdlers and all its athletes in the 800-and-up events (Pine Island's lack of depth in the sprinting events will be its biggest challenge to overcome). Longer shots to win but still capable of making a statement will be Luverne, which will rely strongly on its field events, in particular throwing, to compete, and Ada-Borup, which (with the obvious exception of the talented hurdler/jumper Luke Heitman) consists primarily of middle-third scoring athletes who could make a big difference if a number of them outdo their season bests even by moderate levels. Wadena-Deer Creek, Maple Lake, Moose Lake, and Blue Earth Area will round out the teams competing but probably will have too many holes in a few events to make a serious challenge, in spite of some clear strengths such as Wadena's deep sprinting crew or Moose Lake's individual standouts Ethan Olson and Sam Coil.