The University of South Dakota men's and women's track teams capped their indoor season on Saturday with strong showings, as both successfully defended their team titles at the Great West Conference Championships in the DakotaDome. The Coyote women claimed 230.5 points to outpace Utah Valley's 195, while USD notched 187 points to defeat Utah Valley's 168 on the men's side.
Coyote head coaches Lucky Huber and Dave Gottsleben repeated as GWC Coach of the Year for the women and men, respectively, while senior Ramsey Fitzsimmons (Yankton) won GWC Female Athlete of the Year for a second consecutive season. Senior Rob Gregoire (Wakonda) was named the GWC Male Athlete of the Year.
Fitzsimmons earned 36.5 team points in five events to post perhaps the most dominant performance at the two-day meet. After winning the 3,000 meters and anchoring the winning distance medley relay on Friday she placed in the top three in three events on Saturday. Fitzsimmons ran a season-best 4:57 in the mile to finish just four tenths of a second away from the DakotaDome record, claimed second in the 800 in 2:17 and earned third in the 5,000 meters in 17:46.
Likewise, Gregoire competed in four events to earn 23 team points. He won the 3,000 meters on Friday, before placing in the top five in three events on Saturday. He was fourth in the 5,000 meters with a personal-best 15:17, fifth in the 800 meters in 1:58 and fifth in the mile in 4:20.
South Dakota's award-winning duo had plenty of help, though, especially in the field events. Junior Kenna Wolter (Santa Maria, CA) broke the USD school record with a leap of 40-8 3/4 in the women's triple jump. She bested the mark of 40-1 1/2 set by two-time national champion Elena Swan in 1998.
The Coyote women claimed 23.5 team points in the pole vault by sweeping the top three places. Freshman Bethany Buell (St. Louis, MO) won by clearing 12-1 1/2, while fellow freshman Jessica Christian (Richland, WA) earned second in 11-9 3/4 and junior Haley Peterson (Norfolk, NE) tied for third.
The USD men racked up a big 48 team points with 1-2-3 finishes in the high jump and triple jump. Junior Jeff Sebern (Brookings) cleared a personal-best 6-6 3/4 to win the high jump, while sophomore Chad Pinkelman (Norfolk, NE) was second at the same height but had more misses. Senior Beau Hoodjer (Lincoln, NE) was third at 6-4 3/4. In the triple jump, sophomore Cody Linder (Plattsmouth, NE) repeated as champion with a leap of 46-8 1/4, while Pinkelman was second at 46-5 1/2 and Sebern third at 45-1 3/4.
On the track, sophomore Emma Erickson (Gayville) won the 400 meters in 56.87 for a second consecutive season and accomplished the same feat in the 800 meters with a 2:17. Freshman Casey Shade (Hartford) won the men's 800 in 1:55.
Freshman Michael Burrus (Papillion, NE) claimed second in the men's 60-meter dash in 6.91, followed by freshman Matt Kerswill (Schofield, WI) in 6.93 for third and sophomore Jeremy Blount (Tampa, FL) in 6.99 for fourth.
South Dakota begins its outdoor season by traveling to the Baldy Castillo Invitational on March 19-20 in Phoenix, AZ.