By Parker Knox
Vermillion’s defending state champion boys’ sprint medley relay team came within a whisker of repeating that feat at the state meet in Sioux Falls Saturday but lost at the tape to winning Custer by 1.16 seconds.
That second-place finish was one of seven placings that earned team points for VHS as the school’s athletic year came to an end.
The Tanager boys accumulated 20 points to place 14th while the girls tied for 18th place with 12 points.
Custer and Vermillion medley teams entered the state classic ranked one and two, respectively, according to in-season qualifying times, and that’s the way they finished in the finals, even though the Tanagers had the better qualifying time of 3:42.46 in Friday’s preliminaries at Lennox. The final tally on Saturday showed the winning Wildcats at 3:38.14 and the Tanagers at 3:39.30.
With three runners back from the quartet that won it all last year in Rapid City, the Tanagers almost did it again. Nate Svendsen took the first 200 and J.T. Sorensen the second. Colin Olson in his 400-meter third leg faced an uphill challenge to get VHS to the front of the pack, and he did, and Austin Krier ran a heroic 800-meter anchor leg that just missed catching Custer’s anchor man.
In the 4×400-meter relay the Tanager team came in with the third-best time in the state behind Mobridge-Pollock and Custer. Vermillion ran its preliminary race with the third-best time of 3:29.70 and finished that way in the finals, too, with a 3:31.15 clocking behind Spearfish and Mobridge-Pollock. Krier, Sorensen, Svendsen and Olson carried the baton for VHS.
Olson earned six more team points on his own with a third-place medal in the 400-meter run in :50.61, just 1.1 seconds behind the champion. Olson had the best time in Friday’s prelims at :50.85.
Vermillion’s other entry in the boys’ division, the 4×100-meter relay foursome of Jeremiah Johnson, Sorensen, Alex Robertson and Olson did not qualify for the finals. In the prelims they ran the 21st-best time of :45.87.
Dylan Fischbach easily rolled to victory in the exhibition event, the 100-meter dash for wheelchair contestants. His time was :18.36.
Mackenzie Huber concluded her high school pole vaulting experience by earning six team points for the VHS girls with her third-place leap of 8’9”. The winning height in her specialty was a foot higher at 9’9”.
Seventh-grader Maddie Lavin likely is just beginning a long stretch of state-meet participation. She placed sixth in the 1600-meter run in 5:20.50 and was seventh in the 3200 in 11:42.75.
The Tanager girls’ medley relay team of Paige Olson, Sydney Peters, Emma Lunning and Megan Olson had the eighth-best qualifying time in the prelims at 4:28.45, and that’s where they placed in the finals, too, with a time of 4:29.39.
Custer’s boys exploded from the rest of the field to easily win the state “A” team championship, and St. Thomas More won the girls’ title.