ST. PAUL — Jackson Walters can be proud of the fact his only losses his junior and senior years were to one of the best 110-meter high hurdler in Minnesota history.
The Brainerd Warrior finished second in the Class 2A state championship race to Park’s Rilwan (RJ) Alowonle on Saturday at Hamline University’s Klas Field. Alowonle, who set the Minnesota state meet record of 13.88 in Friday’s prelims, won with a 14.04 in the final, with Walters second at 14.46.
“My start was fair,” Walters said. “Coming up out of the blocks next to RJ, it was kind of fast. I just tried to stick to my race, run as fast as I could, and see what happened.”
Walters, who was fifth last year, lost to Alowonle in the 2011 state finals and was second to Alowonle in Friday’s prelims as well as in Saturday’s finals.
“He was my first loss of the year last year,” Walters said. “That’s a good one to give up, against the fastest guy in a long time. It’s unbelievable to race against a guy like him. He’s awesome really.”
Walters was seeded second entering the state meet and hoped to better his prelim time of 14.64, a goal that he accomplished.
“(Friday) he was 8/10ths of a second behind RJ,” Warrior hurdles coach Howie Jacobs said. “(Saturday) he was less than 3/10ths behind RJ so he really ran a great race today. He was pretty clean.
“What a way to go out. It was a new school record — again. He took another .13 off of it. The last (school record) lasted 42 years. We’ll see how long this one lasts.”
Warrior boys head coach Rod Reuer had a bird’s-eye view of Walters final race from his seat in the stands at Klas Field.
“I would say it was probably one of his cleanest races all year,” Reuer said. “I don’t think he hit too many hurdles. He was right there. (Friday) he was almost a second behind, today it was a matter of about 4/10ths of a second difference.
“Obviously, it’s a new school record. He did it at the right time. He needs to be very proud of what he’s accomplished.”
Reuer said Walters’ goal entering his final season was to be a top three, or higher, hurdler at the state meet.
“He did everything you could do to get ready for the season,” Reuer said. “He came in in great shape, had a great attitude, was a great leader. He’s just what you want in a student-athlete.
“He’s going to be tough one to replace. He’s a track kid. Kids like that don’t come around very often. If they do, they’re pretty special.”
Class 2A Finals
110 hurdles: 1-Rilwan Alowonle (Park) 14.04, 2-Jackson Walters (Brd) 14.46
Pole vault: 1-Emily Guimont (Edina) 11-6, 12-Rachelle LeBlanc (LF) 10-6
Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.