Four Vermillion High School athletes can call themselves "state champs," and they would be right!
Aaron Ruhaak, J.T. Sorensen, Colin Olson and Austin Krier steamed to victory in a thrilling down-to-the-wire race to win the sprint medley relay at the state track meet in Rapid City Saturday, bringing home a state championship plaque in their event.
The Tanager foursome was timed in 3:39.05, edging runner-up Winner's 3:40.75 time by 1.75 seconds.
The same four runners very nearly had a second state title to their credit. As Vermillion's 4×400-meter relay team, they placed second in 3:26.19, just behind winning Mobridge-Pollock's 3:24.07 by 2.12 seconds. Ruhaak ran the opening leg, Krier took the second, Sorensen the third quarter and Olson the anchor leg.
These four men accounted for 18 team points in their two races as the Tanagers accumulated a total of 22 for 10th place among Class "A" boys teams. The other four Vermillion points came from Nick Jensen, who threw the shot put 53 feet in placing fifth.
Ruhaak, Sorensen, Olson and Krier had also posted the best time in the medley relay preliminary round on Friday at 3:40.51. In the 4×400 relay they had the second-best qualifying time of 3:27.94. Ruhaak is the only graduating senior among the foursome.
Fellow Big 8 Conference member Madison won the "A" boys team title with 91 points. Custer was second at 75, and another Big 8 member, West Central, was sixth.
Meanwhile, the Tanager girls scored 16 team points to place 17th in the "A" girls state meet standings. Two Big 8 teams, West Central and Madison, finished a close one-two at the top with 65 and 63 points, respectively, and another Big 8 school, Harrisburg, was seventh.
Mackenzie Huber had Vermillion's highest finish in girls' events, soaring 9'3" in the pole vault for six team points.
The medley relay quartet of Courtney Johnson, Sydney Peters, Paige Olson and Megan Olson had the eighth and last best qualifying time of 4:32.13 in the prelims, but in the finals they reduced their time by more than four seconds to place fifth in 4:27.70 for four more team points.
Val Moos added three to the VHS total with a sixth-place time of :48.83 in the 300-meter hurdles finals. She ran :48.41 in the prelims, getting the eighth and last best qualifying time.
Beth Szymonski ended her great season in field events with a seventh-place throw of 36'7 1/4" in the shot put for two team points. She added another point by placing eighth in the discus at 115'4".
In other girls' events Moos ran a :16.35 time in the prelims of the 100-meter hurdles but did not advance. Stacy Hirsch was 16th in the discus in 103'6". The Tanager 4×400 relay team placed 13th in the prelims in 4:20.59.
In other boys' events Jensen was ninth and Will Mart 10th in the discus with respective distances of 147'3" and 147'0". In the 200-meter dash prelims Ruhaak ran :24.28, Olson :23.70 and Sorensen :24.19, but none of them qualified for the finals. Andrew Kost was timed in :17.90 in the 110-meter hurdles prelims but did not advance. Nathan Ford placed 19th in the 3200-meter run in 11:02.01. The 4×100-meter relay team of Josh Manning, Kyle Weiss, Alex Robertson and Miguel Piper ran :50.55 in their preliminary heat but did not advance.
Dylan Fischbach was timed in :20.55 in the wheelchair 100-meter dash and earned a well-deserved salute atop the winner's podium.