Coyotes fourth in team standings at nationals

Coyotes fourth in team standings at nationals
Led by the national title-winning performance by Sam Pribyl, the South Dakota men's track and field team finished fourth in the team standings at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships at Fran Welch Stadium in Emporia, KS.

The Coyote men's team finished with 35 points for the fourth-place finish, which is the second-best outdoor finish in school history. The men's team was third outdoors in 2000. USD has a combined seven top-four finishes at national meets, counting both indoor and outdoor finishes.

"This finish by our men's team is a credit to every team member, who focused their efforts on a special outdoor season since the outstanding performances at the Drake Relays," said Gottsleben. "We are extremely proud of this accomplishment. I mean we had four state records and a group that dedicated themselves to being one of the nation's top teams. We are very pleased right now."

The South Dakota men's team had five All-American performances, including four individual performances that set state and USD records.

The Coyote women had two relays earn All-American honors while Stephanie Gebhart, a junior from Elkton, was fourth in the 400-meters with a clocking of 53.81 (second best in career) and Kassy Laber of Parkston, was eighth in the 800 meters.

Counting both the men's and women's performances, USD had 14 All-Americans at the national championships. The Coyote women finished 17th with 14 points.

For Pribyl, this was the culmination of a life-long goal of winning a national title. He won three state of South Dakota pole vault titles in high school and now adds the Division II pole vault title. Pribyl had a state and USD record of 17'08 at nationals, bettering his own mark of 17'06, which he set in winning the NCC title two weeks ago in Sioux Falls. A senior from Webster, he entered the national competition with the top-ranked mark. Pribyl becomes the 15th national champion (combined men and women) in USD school history.

"This is a phenomenal performance by Sam, who has had this as his major goal all during his career," said Gottsleben. "Sam has dedicated himself to high achievement and has continually bettered his performance. Today, he was special. He had tremendous focus and carried through in his effort."

"I am really excited about winning this title," said Pribyl. "I have wanted this for a long time. This was my main goal and it is very satisfying to reach the pinnacle of pole vaulting in Division II."

Earlier in the day, Terry Liggins, a sophomore from Omaha, NE, finished second in the 110-meter hurdles by clocking a state and USD record of 13.82. He has broken his own record three times this season and had a 14.02 in the prelims at the 2006 nationals on Friday. Rico Hatter of Long Beach, CA, finished eighth with a clocking of 14.48, which also earned him All-American honors. Also on Saturday, Mark Liebl, a senior from Menno, was second in the javelin with a state and USD record of 221'01. On Thursday, Dan Tolsma, a senior from Vermillion, threw the hammer 200'0 which is also a state and USD record.

For the women's team, the 4×400 meter relay squad set a school record and South Dakota collegiate mark by finishing fourth with clocking of 3:40.90. The squad of Meghan Reifenrath of Rock Rapids, IA, Heidi Muellenburg of Redfield, Kassy Laber of Parkston, and Stephanie Gebhart earned All-American honors and broke the 1990 USD record held by the team Susan Chopskie, Darcy Siebels, Kristie Dean and Linda Gdowski.

In the record-breaking 4×400-meter relay performance, USD's Reifenrath went 56.0 in leading off followed by Laber with a 55.9; Muellenburg with a 54.5 and Gebhart, who had 53.20. Amber Stoltenburg of Elkton, also earned All-American honors.

"This is one of the best relay performances in school history," said women's head coach Lucky Huber. "We are very proud of them."

The 4×100 team went 46.18 in finishing sixth at nationals after setting a state record on Friday with a clocking 45.94. That team included Amanda Dykstra-Adamson of Yankton, Muellenburg; Jenessa Filler of Crooks, and Gebhart.

With three All-American honors, Gebhart now has 15 in her career, which ranks second all-time to Elena Swan. Laber had two All-American honors, adding her eighth-place finish in the 800 meters which gives her 10 All-American honors in her career.

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