A Vermillion boys relay team came within three-quarters of a second of a state championship in its event but came home with a strong second-place medal, highlighting the Tanagers' appearance at the state track and field meet in Sioux Falls last weekend.
The Tanager 1600-meter medley relay team of Aaron Ruhaak, Cody Olson, Colin Olson and Austin Krier had the best time of any medley teams in the Class "A" preliminaries in Madison Friday at 3:45.31. On Saturday in the finals at Howard Wood Field, the Tanager quartet ran more than four seconds faster, 3:41.66, but that fell just short of champion Flandreau's winning clocking of 3:40.93.
The eight team points earned by that relay foursome were part of a team total of 17 points, which tied Vermillion for 16th place in the "A" team standings.
Vermillion's boys 4×400-meter relay team ran the seventh-best time in the preliminaries, 3:35.28, but bettered that on Saturday in the finals and placed sixth in a time of 3:33.68, good for three more team points. Those runners were Ruhaak, Colin Olson, J.T. Sorensen and Cody Olson.
Will Mart captured sixth place in the discus event, among a field of outstanding throwers, achieving his career second-best distance of 49'5", contributing three more team points to VHS' total.
The 4×200-meter relay quartet of Ruhaak, Brenden Raizola and the Olsons ran their race in 1:33.90, good for seventh place and two team points. In so doing they bettered their prelim time of 1:34.62, which made them the last of eight teams to qualify for the finals.
The 4×800-meter relay team of Krier, Carson Sullivan, Anthony Leber and Tanner Anderson accounted for Vermillion's other team point with an eighth-place finish in their event in 8:40.42. All are underclassmen except Sullivan, who had gone repeated knee surgeries in order to compete in track, and was rewarded with a state meet medal in his last opportunity.
In other boys events Cody Olson did not qualify for the finals in the 200-meter dash. In the prelims he had the 15th-best time of :24.04. It was the same situation for Ruhaak in the 400 where he had the 15th-best prelim time of :52.93.
Tea Area captured the "A" boys team state title with 77 points, followed by West Central with 61, Tri-Valley with 57 and Custer with 51.
Vermillion's girls scored team points in four events, finishing with a total of 9.33333, good enough for a tie for 28th place in the team standings.
The medley relay team of Megan Olson, Christine Epping, Paige Olson and Blair Gilkyson placed fifth in 4:31.10, scoring four team points for VHS. They bettered their preliminary time of 4:32.73, which was fourth-best among the eight finals qualifiers.
Gilkyson earned three team points with her sixth-place run in the 3200 where she was clocked in 12:19.95. A seventh-place finish in the 1600 made her a double placer. Her time of 5:33.47 added two more VHS team points.
The final one-third of a point was scored by Mackenzie Huber in the pole vault where she tied for eighth place with a leap of 7'9".
In other girls events Valerie Moos tied for 14th in the 100-meter hurdles preliminaries in :17.46. Beth Szymonski had the 10th-best discus throw in the prelims at 105'6" and the 16th-best shot put try at 32'1 3/4".
The 4×400-meter relay team runners � Paige Olson, Carlee Sorensen, Abreuanna Raizola and Megan Olson � ran their race in 4:27.31, the 13th-best time in the preliminaries. Vermillion's 4×200 team composed of Megan Olson, Courtney Johnson, Paige Olson and Epping was 11th-best in the prelims in 1:54.38, and the 4×100 quartet made up of Sorensen, Paige Olson, Epping and Megan Olson was 13th best in its preliminaries in :53.14.
Gilkyson had also qualified for the state meet in the 800-meter run, but, according to Coach Lenni Billberg, that event occurred only 20 minutes before the 3200 and she would not have been able to run on the medley team.