Irondale, Mounds View each capture state track gold

The high school track and field season came to a conclusion last weekend as the state meet was held at Hamline University’s Klas Field in St. Paul. Five District 621 students capped off their seasons by capturing state championships.

Mounds View sophomore Calvin Ciganik capped his meteoric rise by winning the boys Class AA pole vault championship on June 10. He cleared 15 feet on his first try to capture the title.

The Irondale foursome of senior Emily Brandt, juniors Michelle Meyer and Elizabeth Axberg and sophomore Julia Hayes had to wait for the very end of the meet to win their championship. The final track event is always the 4x400-meter relay and the four Knightsí won it by just over a half second with a time of 3:54.46.

For Ciganik, the championship seemed to come out of nowhere. Prior to this season, his personal best was 11 feet, six inches. He added four feet to that this spring and has the school record in his sights.

“I was close to my goal this year but I’m going to work over the summer to get it,” Ciganik said.

The school record of 15 feet, seven inches is held by Jagger Gran and Ciganik wants to better that mark. His best mark this spring was 15 feet, six inches.

The state championship came down to a battle between Ciganik and Moorhead senior Kyle Johnson. They were the only vaulters to clear 14 feet, nine inches. Ciganik put himself in position to win the title by clearing 15 feet and then watched as Johnson failed on his three tries.

Of the 10 heights that were attempted in the meet, Ciganik passed on three, cleared five on his first try, cleared one on his second try and then took three cracks at but couldn’t clear the final height (15 feet, six inches) after already clinching the title.

Ciganik started vaulting in eighth grade when a track coach saw him weight lifting for wrestling practice.

“He said, ‘Hey, try pole vaulting,’” Ciganik said. “I just fell in love with it.”

To see the Irondale 4x400-meter relay team at the top of the medals stand was somewhat of a surprise. The foursome entered the state meet with only the ninth-best section-meet time but ran the third-fastest time in the prelims.

Meyer led off the race and was followed by Axberg, who handed off to Brandt for the third leg. Hayes ran the anchor leg and held off a charging Eagan runner despite having already run in two events earlier in the day.

Irondale’s time of 3:54.46 beat Eagan, the No. 1 seed that was later disqualified for a bad baton exchange. Bloomington Jefferson ended up as the runner-up with a time of 3:55.01.

The Knights entered the state meet with a seed time of 4:00.89.

A year ago, Brandt, Axberg and Hayes ran the 4x400 at state along with Greta Nundahl but did not advance to the finals.

In addition to the 4x400, Hayes also qualified for state this year in both hurdle events. She finished third in both and should be a favorite next spring. The same two girls finished ahead of her in both races and both are seniors.

Meyer also qualified for state in the long jump but did not advance to the finals.

With a first and two thirds, Irondale finished with 28 team points and tied with Edina for 11th place in the team standings.

Mounds View’s boys team scored 12 points with Ciganik’s win and added four points for finishing sixth in the 4x800-meter relay. Seniors Hans Adamsson and Grant Delaune and juniors Ezekiel Lelinga and Tim Pease posted a time of 7:54.58. 

The rest of Mounds View’s state contingent included Delaune in the 800 meters, Alex Plesencia in the 1,600 meters and Michael Fahim in the discus. Delaune and Fahim did not advance to the finals and Plasencia finished 11th.


Brian Meyers can be reached at or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.





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