Class 3A boys state track: Irondale’s Juriad Hughes Jr. has a grand day

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For all the success Irondale senior Juriad Hughes Jr. has achieved over the course of his high school track and field career, the 100-meter dash has remained a bit of a sore spot.

As a sophomore, Hughes qualified for the state finals but false-started. As a junior, a bad day at the section meet meant he didn’t even qualify for state in the event.

“The 100 was the hump for sure,” said Hughes, who will run at NCAA Division I Arkansas next season. “I needed to get over it. I really wanted to leave my stamp on that event.”

He did just that Saturday, winning the 100 in a wind-aided time of 10.35 seconds during competition at the Class 3A boys state track and field meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

Hughes ran the race in between leaps in the long jump, where he defended his state title with a distance of 24 feet, 5 1/4 inches. He finished the afternoon by winning the 200 in 21.22. Apple Valley senior Dwyne Smith Jr. finished second in 21.43.

“It felt good,” Hughes said of his day. “It was a great way to end my high school career.”

Smith, meanwhile, won the 400 in 47.55. He finished fourth in the 100 in a time of 10.72.

“(Hughes and I) run together in summer track,” Smith said of his matchups with Hughes. “And we’ve run against each other for a couple of years now. It’s great competition between us, but we’re really good friends.”

— Roseville junior Robert Mechura completed a Class 3A distance sweep Saturday, winning the 1,600-meter run in 4:08.89.

He won the 3,200 Thursday and the Class 3A state cross country title last fall.

“The cross country one was really special because it was my first state championship and I was ranked second most of the season, so I was kind of an underdog,” said Mechura, who has already committed to run at Division I North Carolina.

“But today was exciting too because my whole high school career, I haven’t always had the most speed. But I’ve worked at it, and I saw the results in this race.”

— Rosemount senior Maki Whelan won the 300 hurdles in 38.00. Lakeville North senior Tyler Christianson was second (38.50). Whelan finished third in the 110 hurdles in 14.26.

“If I get to the backstretch and I’m not far off, I feel good about my chances,” he said. “When I got to the sixth hurdle today, I was in first place. So I knew I had it.”

Whelan’s efforts helped Rosemount repeat as state team champions with 53 points, edging Wayzata by one point.

“We’ve had a run of exceptional kids the last six or seven years,” Irish head coach Jay Hatless said. “That’s put us in a position to be in it every year and that’s been a lot of fun.”

— The Mounds View boys 4×400 relay team placed first in 3:18.73. The Mustangs were second in the 4×200 in 1:27.23.

— Brainerd senior Dylan Gross won the discus with a throw of 184-6. Centennial senior Timothy Ball was second (177-8) and Mounds View senior Luke Van Oort was third (177-6).

— Lakeville North began the day by bringing home a state title in the 4×800 relay, improving on a second-place finish in the event a year ago. The Panthers finished in a time of 7:54.27. Eden Prairie finished second in a time of 7:55.71.

“We came into this with an in-the-mix mindset,” said junior Darby Griffin, who ran the anchor leg and went on to finish eighth in the 800.

“We were confident we had a chance to come out on top and it all worked out.”

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