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'Jacks come close at True Team

Track sections don't start until next week for Cloquet, but the team already competed at the state's True Team competition - and proved their team is truly packed with talent.

Cloquet head track coach Tim Prosen announced Monday that the Cloquet boys team finished 3.5 points short of a state True Team title - with 595 points compared to No. 1 Willmar's 598.5 - and the girls took a very respectable seventh place (out of 12 teams competing) with 410.5 points.

Started in 1987 by the state track and field coaches association, True Team is all about the team - not only its stars.

In True Team competition at the Class A and Class AA level, each team is allowed two entries in individual events and one entry in each relay event. Every entry is placed and scored according to their order of finish, with the idea that a team's second or third entry becomes just as important as their first entry.

"The rationale is this is the best measurement of a team," Prosen said. "In the past, an athlete or two that are extremely high-end could place a team high in a high end or state meet. I have seen teams with incomplete rosters - say not even having any throwers or distance runners score high - just because they have a couple of gifted athletes who can pile up points in traditionally scored meets. This system helps identify the best teams."

There are three classes in True Team competition, with the classes based on enrollment. Throughout the state, there are eight sections in each class, with the champion in each section advancing to the state meet. Cloquet won its section of 13 teams to compete at state during the Section 7AA meet in Esko on May 18. Because of the pandemic, not all the teams gathered at the same site: there were eight separate competitions with three teams at each meet. The results were submitted electronically to determine the overall winners.

"Honestly, with not having a season last year I did not know what to expect," Prosen said. "Also not having the traditional 12-team meet on the same site as coaches, we really did not know how strong we were. We will get back to work and keep setting our goals higher."

Results from the meet were posted to mn.milesplit.com this week. Cloquet ranged from first to 19th place, with every point counted.

Top performers for the Cloquet boys included Nathan "Paddy" Genereau, who took first place in the 300-meter hurdles, the 4x400-meter boys relay team of Cale Prosen, Genereau, Nate Bong and Logan Dushkin and the 4x800-meter relay team of Cale Prosen, Miles Fisher, Sam Buytaert and Dushkin. Dushkin also placed second in the 800-meter run, while Fischer took second in the 1,600-meter run.

Prosen called Genereau "a high-end athlete working with a high-end coach," referring also to coach Tim Anderson. "Tim spends so much time doing what he can to dial Paddy in with his steps, timing, training, so forth. We are blessed to have such a high-end passionate coach working with our high schoolers."

Top performers for the girls team included Ilei Benson, who took first place in the pole vault, and Olivia Jameson, who took second in both the 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. Taylor Wick took second in the high jump.

Jameson also works with Anderson on the hurdles, along with Dale Flankey in triple jump, and Michelle Wick in high jump.

"Again, all of these coaches put in such time and should be credited with helping her in all of these very technical events," Prosen said. "Olivia is a fantastic athlete who works very hard in events that all take more time to learn than usual."

He was not surprised by Benson's first in the pole vault either, noting that Benson has performed well all season long. Again, he also gave the specialty coaches credit.

Cloquet police school resource officer Larry Sherk has been working with the pole vaulters this season. "Larry has so much fun working with our vaulters and the kids sure enjoy working with him in this other capacity," Prosen said.

Also assisting the pole vaulters are Class of 2020 grads Josh South and Caleb Swanson. "These two did not get their senior year due to Covid and really missed what their season would have given them," Prosen said. "They have decided to help coach our vaulters, as this has always been a passion for them." It makes for a fun atmosphere at the pole vaulting pit, he said, adding "everyone wants to be a pole vaulter."

The individual track sections for the girls team begin June 9 for the girls and June 12 for the boys; both meets start at 10 a.m. at Bromberg Field in Cloquet.