Strong second-day performance carries Rosemount to girls track championship

Rosemount’s track and field athletes have a knack for turning it on when it matters most, a gift that helped the Irish win their third consecutive girls state team championship.

The Irish were expecting a fight to the finish with Minnetonka for the girls Class 3A championship June 11 at St. Michael-Albertville High School. In reality, they put a lock on the title a couple of events early, coming in 12 points of the Skippers and 30 points ahead of anybody else.

The championship is the fourth in school history and third since 2019. There was no state meet in 2020 because of the pandemic, so the Irish girls are on a run of three straight team titles. This is their first in Class 3A, created this year when the Minnesota State High School League expanded the state meet.

Rosemount’s boys team came up just short of a second consecutive state championship, finishing 4.2 points behind Andover and taking second. Rosemount junior Hayden Bills set an all-time state meet record in the discus with 196 feet, 2 inches, 20 inches better than the previous record set in 2017.

The Irish girls came to the finals expecting a battle. Initially, the coaches weren’t going to pre-score the finals, which would have given them an idea of where the team stood and where they might need to pick up points in the finals.

“This morning we had a little warmup, and (head coach Sara Hatleli) said, ‘I couldn’t help myself. I had to score it,’” senior captain Ava Cinnamo said. “With everyone coming in at what their prelim times and distances were, we were winning by one point. I know we placed better in a couple events than we were anticipated to.”

Hatleli said years of competition experience worked in the Irish’s favor.

“We have an athletic group of girls, clearly,” the coach said. “With the experience of being at the meet for multiple years, they just know how to do it. They know how to conduct themselves, they know how to prepare, and they don’t falter under competition and pressure. All that, and they’re a great group of kids. Plus, we have a ton of support from parents. We have the whole package here.”

Cinnamo scored 44 of Rosemount’s 93 team points with victories in the 300-meter hurdles and triple jump, and second places in the 100 hurdles and long jump.

She won a second consecutive state championship in the 300 hurdles. In the 100, she was runner-up to Roseville’s Ava Fitzgerald, whose winning time of 13.81 seconds set the all-time state meet record.

Cinnamo’s ran 43.10 seconds in the 300 hurdles and 14.22 in the 100. She went 43 feet, 3.5 inches to win the event by more than 2 feet. Cinnamo had a long jump of 18-8, second by half an inch to Edina star Maddie Dahlien.

Dahlien and Fitzgerald also are seniors, but Cinnamo couldn’t help but notice a large group of younger athletes at their heels.

“There are so many young girls who are so good in the hurdles,” Cinnamo said. “In the jumps, I saw the other girls and was like, OK, I have my work cut out for me. All over the board, the 400, the 200. It was really competitive overall this year.”

Hatleli said Cinnamo’s value to the team isn’t limited to meets. “She took charge of practice every day and made sure athletes were doing what they were supposed to do,” Hatleli said. “She’s pretty intolerant of athletes not being at their best. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a great thing. If people aren’t working she’s not afraid to call them out, and that’s fantastic.

“She’s great. She gets it and understands all of it.”

Rosemount athletes also picked up gold medals in the 4x200 relay as Catelyn Ketterling, Mya Cinnamo, Shay Payne and Jenna Johnson finished in 1 minute, 41.61, seconds, about nine-tenths of a second ahead of Minnetonka.

Jordan Hecht, a junior, won a second consecutive state championship in discus. Her throw of 148-6 was about 5 feet better than the runner up.

Johnson reached the podium in the 400, taking third in 55.93. Taylor Heimerl was fifth in the 800 in 2:15.18. Mya Cinnamo, Heimerl, Ketterling and Johnson finished seventh in the 4x400 relay in 4:00.52

Rosemount had two medalists in girls shot put, with senior Ava Webster finishing fourth at 40-0.75 and Hecht seventh with 38-4.75.

Bills was able to channel his disappointment in the Class 3A shot put toward a state-record effort in the discus. He finished 15th in the shot, held during Class 3A preliminaries June 9, after medaling in the event the previous year.

He launched the discus 196-2 on his final attempt, almost 14 feet farther than his previous best in the competition. “My spin was really good,” he said. “I’d already won, so there was no pressure on the last one. It’s almost like throwing in practice.”

Bills, also a standout lineman for Rosemount’s football team, said he doesn’t know yet which sport he will pursue in college, or if he will try to do both. He said he will let things play out over the next few months before making a decision.

He’s the latest in a line of standout throwers from Rosemount, which includes 2021 U.S. Olympian Payton Otterdahl. “I think the biggest thing about our program is the coaches care about you and are always there for you,” Bills said.

Rosemount senior Weston Ebner grabbed third place in the shot put with 54-7.75. Samuel Reiland, also a senior, threw the discus 153-11 to place seventh.

Grantham Green, a junior, picked up 16 team points in hurdles, taking second in the 110 meters in 14.53 and fourth in the 300 in 38.86. Blake Nyenati of Andover won both races.

Kade Gilbertson, Ryan Mulrooney, Jackson Ganser and Miles Townsend were second in the 4x400 relay in 3:19.19. In the race within the race, the Irish needed to score seven more points than Andover in the 4x400 relay – the final event – to win the team championship. Andover put an end to those hopes by taking third in the 4x400.

Gilbertson, Ganser, Leyton Simmering and Townsend finished fourth in the 4x200 relay in 1:27.76. Joe McNeil, Will Harder, Mulrooney and Micah Beise were seventh in the 4x800 relay in 8:04.79.

The 4x100 relay proved costly for Rosemount’s bid for a repeat team championship as exchange issues caused the Irish to not complete the race. Rosemount had the fastest preliminary time in the 4x100.

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