By James D. Cimburek
With winds howling through Yankton’s Williams Field throughout the brisk April Saturday, April 6, the University of South Dakota men’s and women’s track and field team was not looking as much for high marks as it was high effort.
And USD saw just that, sweeping through The Duals — formerly the Dakota Duals — against teams from South Dakota State, North Dakota and Omaha.
The format was a refreshing break in the early part of the season, said USD women’s coach Lucky Huber.
“This part of the season gets to be kind of a grind, but having this meet helped make it a little more fun. We had kind of a scored meet, had a good crowd here with parents,” he said. “I think that makes it a little easier to get fired up, and we had a good day.”
The USD women had the upper hand against all three programs, including a 122-65 victory over an Omaha team that beat the Coyotes at the Summit League Indoor Championships in February at the DakotaDome.
“Omaha handed it to us indoors. They got second in the indoor meet, so we wanted to see how we could stack up with them,” Huber said. “We feel like we’ve improved over the last month. Obviously adding a few more bodies to our team helped that a little bit.”
The USD women also beat SDSU 111-83 and UND 125-53.
The Coyote men beat SDSU 121.5-76.5 and UND 136-48. Omaha does not have a men’s track and field program.
“I thought our kids didn’t use weather as an excuse. We got pretty high marks,” said USD men’s coach Dave Gottsleben. “I think for what we wanted to accomplish today, we wanted to be successful and win the duals, and we did that.”
Alexa Duling continued her early success, winning the 100- (13.88) and 400-meter (1:01.54), and anchoring the Coyotes to victory in the 1600 relay (3:53.48).
The 400 hurdles, an event in which Duling competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials, continues to be a work in progress, she said.
“The part of my 400 hurdle race that I ran into the wind I thought I ran better than the part that was with the wind. I’ve been focusing more on attacking the first part of my race. I feel like I need a couple more, then I’ll be able to roll the whole thing,” she said. “It’s like baby steps with me in this race, for some reason. Hopefully each week keep progressing a little further around the track and, by first round of nationals, hopefully, be ready to roll.”
USD also had top-three sweeps in the 400 and pole vault, with Ashley Sveum (400, 58.02) and Emily Grove (pole vault, 13-0 1/4) taking victories. The Coyote women also got victories from Amber Eichkorn in the 5,000 (18:15.13), Megan Glisar in the high jump (5-10 1/2), Meghan Dennis in the javelin (136-5), Breanna Janovy in the shot put (44-2 3/4) and Tansha Clarke in the long jump (18-4 1/2).
Gliser, who just missed at 6-0 1/2, which would have been a personal best, felt good about her effort.
“I’m really happy with how today went. My coach and myself figured out a lot of good stuff today, especially if we were to have this wind. It’s not easy jumping in it,” she said. “That last bar, even though I didn’t get it, was going to be a personal best. I feel like, if I had some fresh legs underneath me, it would have been a more successful day.”
Also for the USD women, Yankton native Ashlea Johnson finished second to Clarke by 1 1/2 inches in the long jump, and finished fifth in the triple jump (35-4 1/2). Former Vermillion standout Elizabeth Szymonski placed fifth in the javelin (104-3).
A pair of double-winners paced the Coyote men. Former Andes Central standout Cody Snyder swept the shot put (56-7 1/4) and discus (184-6), while Erik Hill swept the 110- (14.89) and 400 (57.39) hurdles.
USD swept the top four positions in the men’s 5,000, with Brant Haase winning the race in 15:20.70. Mubarik Musa was second (15:27.89), Jeff Mettler third (15:30.12) and Alex Hohenthaner was fourth in 15:35.22. Mettler also won the 1,500 (4:09.68), while Hohenthaner, a Yankton native, won the steeplechase (9:45.43) on his high school home track.
“On a day like today, we’re not competing with time, especially with the wind,” Hohenthaner said. “I just went out there and just ignored time and competed, and it worked out.”
Also for the USD men, Denton Stephens won the hammer throw (182-11), Jeff O’Connell won the long jump (23-2), Michael Burrus won the 100 (10.78) and Christian Nielsen won the 200 (21.39). The Coyotes also won the men’s 400 (42.69) and 1600 (3:24.55) relays.
Former Beresford standout Kyle McKelvey finished second in the shot put (54-1 3/4), third in the discus (157-5) and fourth in the hammer (162-0). Former Yankton standout Connor Fitzsimmons placed third in both the long jump (21-10) and triple jump (43-2 1/2). Former Bon Homme standout Tad Schuurmans placed fifth in the 100 (11.36). Former Yankton standout Tyler Sternhagen placed fifth in the 400 (52.21) and anchored the Coyotes to victory in the 1600 relay.
The event, which was originally scheduled to be held in Brookings, will be the only true home meet on the USD outdoor schedule. The Coyotes, though, will be in the region this coming week for the Sioux City Relays, and will send athletes to the Mount Marty Twilight and Howard Wood Dakota Relays.
“We’re actually pretty excited about coming back over here for the Mount Marty meet,” Huber said. “This is really a great facility. The Williams family, Bob Winter, all those guys put something together here that’s pretty special.”
Brooke Garner led the South Dakota State women, breaking her school record in the hammer (198-11) and winning the discus with a toss of 170-5. Carly Carper led the SDSU sprint corps, leading a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 (11.99) and anchoring the Jackrabbits to victory in the 400 relay (49.47).
Also for the SDSU women, former Yankton standout Krista Creager placed fourth in the 800 (2:21.00).
The Jackrabbit men were led by freshman Jeremiah Ary, who won the triple jump (48-6) and finished second in the long jump (22-10). His triple jump mark ranks sixth in Jackrabbit history.
Phillip LaVallee (800, 1:59.80) and Connor Berg (high jump, 6-6) were also winners for the Jackrabbit men. Berg’s winning mark was a personal best.
Also for the SDSU men, former Bloomfield, Neb., standout Austin Hamm finished third in the steeplechase (10:06.42).
Gottsleben said that SDSU is starting to show signs that it will be ready to compete at the Summit League Championships.
“South Dakota State’s a really good team, and they will be in the mix at the conference meet,” he said. “They had a bit of a struggle indoors, had some kids hurt and stuff like that, but they’ll be there at the end.”
For Omaha, former Creighton standout Jessica Ripp finished fifth in the long jump (16-9 1/4).
You can follow James D. Cimburek on Twitter at twitter.com/aceman904