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Kyley Foster won both the 100 and 300 hurdles events during the Section True Team meet last week. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

Lakers to double the True Team pleasure

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sports Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Every year the focus for the Detroit Lakes boys’ and girls’ track teams has been the Section 8-2A True Team meet.

But for the first time since the True Team format was created in 1987, both the Laker teams qualified for the Class 2A state meet, which pits schools the same size against each other using a team-based scoring format.

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Both teams took their Section 8-2A championship last Thursday at Mollberg Field, making DL one of only two schools to have both boys’ and girls’ teams qualify.

The other is Sartell.

“It’s exciting to me, because now the state meet will feel complete,” said DL head girls’ coach Mike Labine. “There is added pressure on the coaches because we have more events to cover, but the excitement of having everyone down there outweighs that disadvantage.”

The Class 2A meet will be held Saturday in Stillwater, starting at 3 p.m., and there will be lots of Laker Red in both the track and field events.

It’s the second Laker boys’ team to qualify for the state True Team, the first being in its inaugural year of 1987.

So in other words, it’s been awhile.

“I was a junior in high school the last time a Laker boys’ team made the state True Team,” said DL head boys’ coach Steve Zamzo. “But it’s a beautiful thing for both teams. Our depth is nice and this is a nice building block for the program.”

The Laker boys had to narrowly outscore the defending Section True Team champion Little Falls all day Thursday, but by the end, DL had enough points to survive the Flyers.

“All day, we were shooting for purple, we wanted to finish ahead of them as much as we could,” said senior Mike Okeson, referring to Little Falls’ school colors. “At the start of the season, our goal actually was to win the Mid-State Conference, but when things finally got rolling, we started getting pretty confident we could win True Team (at sections).”

For all the seniors involved, it will be one of their last hurrahs in high school competition and the official end to their prep activity careers, as well.

“That’s exciting, being seniors and finishing our careers in state as a team,” said DL sprinter Montana Johnson.

For the Laker boys, it was their depth and the ability to finish both competitors in the top five to six which pulled them through the day.

The collective sigh of relief for the Laker boys could almost be heard after they clinched their first Section True Team title in over 26 years, especially after seeing the Laker girls make the state nine times now.

“It’s really nice to see both teams make it and see all that Laker Red at state Saturday,” Zamzo said. “The boys have kind of played second fiddle to the girls for all these years, but now we get to go down and not only support them, but compete, as well.”

As stated up above, the Laker girls are looking like they are kick-starting a new potential dynasty in True Team competition.

In the early to mid-2000’s, the Lakers were a regular presence in the state True Team.

Then the well went dry for a few years, until last year, when DL qualified and took third in the state.

“It really motivated us to get back to state, because it was such a good time,” said DL sprinter Addie Kay Johnson. “We were pretty confident we could fill the holes (left by last year’s seniors), even though we lost a lot of good sprinters.

“But we wanted to go back to state.”

The Lakers had the benefit of taking eight first-place finishes in the section meet, while having solid enough depth to take multiple top five slots.

That resulted in a dominating section win and the heightening of expectations in state.

“We had a lot of new members on the team this year, but we had even more motivation to make it back to state this year,” said senior thrower Brooklyn Thompson. “This team has a lot of heart. It was very fun last year and we are looking forward to hopefully finishing better than we did then.”

The Lakers boast a deep team, one which is solid in every event. Relays are a strength, and it signifies exactly what this DL girls’ team is all about – team.

“This is about team, there isn’t an ‘I’ in team and we are ready to work as a team in state,” said DL sprinter and athlete Simona Woodard. “We are showing Detroit Lakes is good at track.”

Labine was happy to see his Laker girls not let up, even though they were pulling away during the section meet.

They overcame any contentment and continued to focus on doing well in every event.

At state, Labine is hoping for another top three finish, which means DL will not be able to have an off event.

“The key is to have one finish in the top third and the second finish in the next top third,” Labine said. “I hope the excitement level is as high as it was last year, because everyone performed so well (in 2012).”

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