SIOUX FALLS — With the Great West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships two weeks away and entrance into the Summit League looming two years from now, the University of South Dakota track and field teams got a good test against former and future foes South Dakota State and North Dakota State at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays. The meet concluded Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
"Overall it was a good meet for our kids," said USD women's coach Lucky Huber. "It wasn't a really big college meet, but it was a nice competition where our kids got pushed."
A pair of women's victories Saturday highlighted a strong weekend for the Coyote women, who finished with five of USD's seven event wins on the weekend.
Gabriel Williams' victory in the 100-meter dash (11.85), paired with an eighth place finish in the 200 and the anchor leg of USD's 400-meter relay Friday, gave the sprinter a strong weekend.
"Gabriel had a big meet," Huber said. "If she keeps competing this week, she can help us win the conference."
USD had two other placewinners in the 100, Jenessa Filler (12.13) in fourth and Christina Roberts (12.48) in eighth.
Also on Saturday, the foursome of Crystal Schiernbeck, Roberts, Ashley Sveum and Emma Erickson (Gayville) won the medley relay in 4:04.84. Schiernbeck also placed sixth in the 100 hurdles (16.14), with teammate Alexia Duling fourth (15.06). Roberts placed sixth in the long jump (16-8), with Ashlea Johnson (Yankton) second at 17-6 3/4 and Tia Haines fifth at 16-8.
USD's Haley Juhnke placed third in the 400 hurdles (1:06.50), behind Wayne State's Paige Pollard (Newcastle, Neb.), who clocked a 1:01.85. USD also got a runner-up finish in the 1600 relay, clocking a 3:59.34.
Also in the women's events Saturday, Wausa native Savannah Wakeley, competing for Wayne State, cleared 5-6 to win the high jump. South Dakota State's Michelle Schuch (Tyndall) placed fourth in the discus (148-2) and Ashley Storm (Yankton) placed sixth in the 1500 (4:44.86).
Among the other highlights for the USD women this weekend was Ramsey Fitzsimmons' (Yankton) victory in the 3,000-meter run and Danielle Dornbusch's third place finish in the hammer throw.
"It was neat for Ramsey to win her last race at Howard Wood. She's done so many great things there," Huber said. "Danielle Dornbusch had a good meet."
One of the highlights for the USD men Saturday, according to men's coach Dave Gottsleben, was the fifth place finish by Yankton native Jordan Smith in the 110-meter hurdles (14.80).
"This is a kid that, as a sophomore in high school, almost had a 14.5 clocking in the 110 hurdles. Then he had basically no junior or no senior year," Gottsleben said. "He struggled here, too, and almost gave it up. But he's figured some things out, and hopefully he'll be healthy now.
"It's fun to see this young kid have success."
USD put two runners in the top four of the 100-meter dash, with Matt Kerswill placing second (10.80) and Brandon Kovash finishing fourth (11.04). Also on the track, Corey Gross placed sixth in the 400 hurdles (57.85) and the Coyotes placed third in the medley relay (3:29.49).
In the field events, Chad Pinkelman posted a personal best in finishing sixth in the long jump (22-6 1/2) and Bryan Braley placed second in the pole vault (15-0).
Both the Coyote men's victories came Friday, as USD won the 400 relay and Dominic Artis won the 200. But Artis suffered a quad injury during the prelims of the 100-meter dash, and was held out of the final.
"I think he could have run the final, but at this time of year, it's best not to push it," Gottsleben said. "All of our kids are probably a little beat up. Most of them went to California two weeks ago and were at Drake last week."
Another Friday highlight for USD was Ethan Marquardt's third place finish in the 5,000-meter run. His clocking of 14:58.23 was the fastest by a Coyote freshman ever.
"We've had some good distance runners over the years, and for Ethan to set that mark says a lot," Gottsleben said.
Three area men's athletes, all competing for South Dakota State, also took home medals Saturday.
Luke Leischner (Parkston) added to his 400-meter dash victory by anchoring the Jacks to victory in the 1600 relay (3:16.06). Sam McInerney (Elk Point) placed sixth in the shot put (42-2 3/4). Jared Ailts (Yankton) finished eighth in the 1500 (4:02.69).