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Track and Field

Clark-Willow Lake taking advantage of middle distance depth

Clark-Willow Lake's Brady Jordan, left, takes a handoff from teammate Jack Helkenn, right, during a relay race earlier this season. The Cyclones have some potent middle distance runners this season. Photo courtesy of Heather Jordan

The Clark-Willow Lake Cyclones are kicking up some dust in relay events this spring thanks to an abundance of middle distance runners. At one meet alone last week, CWL won four relay races.

“These guys are kind of 800 meter specialists. I’ve always said that with good 800 meter people you have a lot of versatility, because they can do a lot of things,” said Clark-Willow Lake boys’ coach Dan Whalen. “They can go down and sprint, and they can go up and run distances if you want them to.”

And in the case of this year’s Cyclones, you can even compete without your regular lineup and still have success.

Whalen noted that at a meet earlier this week, three of his main runners (Tyler O’Neill, Trey Huber and Brady Jordan) left early because they were heading to a National Honors Society banquet. The group that filled in behind them still ran well.

“They all left the meet and I ran my next group of guys in the 4X4 and we ran 3:50 and got third,” Wahlen said. “That’s not too bad in a 16-team meet. So we’re having some other kids step up.”

The Cyclones are currently fourth in the 3,200-meter relay and eighth in the sprint medley relay.

Whalen said it takes a special person to compete in the 400-meter dash and 800-meter run. He said it requires physical and mental toughness.

“Those distances are a mental game for the guys,” Whalen said.

Mental toughness comes from within.

So can a coach help draw that out of athletes?

“I think you can to the degree that kids are stronger mentally than they think,” Whalen said. “You have to show them in some way, shape or form and each kid is a little different and that thing that might be holding them back from running their strongest might be different for each one.”

That’s where having a roster full of runners can come into play.

“It certainly helps to have literally eight guys that are out there who are running the quarter. If you want the misery loves company or what have you, that’s fine, but you really do have to overcome some things mentally to be able to run a really good quarter,” Whalen said, “and those guys, when they all know they’re in it together, they work together at it. They’re very complementary to each other as well as driving each other.”

Of course it doesn’t hurt to be in the Northeast Conference which is full of quality track and field athletes.

“That brings out some of those really good times,” Whalen said. “The more we see good people like that, the better we get, the better everybody gets really in the whole conference. It’s a benefit to be able to have those upper level people. It just pushes you to do a little bit better and perform your best.”


There was a new state record established earlier this week.

Wagner’s Jaden Peters broke the state record in the pole vault on Tuesday at the LMVC meet. The senior vaulted 16-feet 11/2-inches. Last week Peters vaulted a personal best 15-feet 6-inches.

The previous state record belonged to Andy Henrichsen of Rapid City Stevens who vaulted 16-1 in 1995.


There are substantially less multiple individual leaders in this week’s leaderboard. However, one athlete is leading a whopping six events, three individually and three relays.

Angel Johnson of Viborg-Hurley leads the Class B boys in the 100, 200, and long jump, and is also part of three relay squads which have the top times in the state.

Matayah Yellow Mule of Rapid City Central leads the Class AA girls in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. Averi Schmeichel of West Central tops the Class A girls in the 100-meter hurdles, the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, and the long jump.

A pair of area athletes top two individual events and also run on a leading relay team.

Warner’s Cody Larson leads the Class B boys in the 1,600 and 3,200, and also is a member of the fastest sprint medley relay team. Bennett Schwenn of Milbank Area leads the Class A boys in the 200-meter dash and triple jump, and is also part of the top sprint medley relay squad.

Other double event leaders include Zander Widener of Langford Area in both hurdles races.


The Sioux Falls Christian boys continue to set the standard when it comes to team leaders. The Chargers top seven events in Class A boys.

Other team leaders include O’Gorman in Class AA girls (six events), Brandon Valley and Sioux Falls Roosevelt in Class AA boys (four events each), Parker in Class A girls (four events), Colman-Egan in Class B girls (five events), and Viborg-Hurley in Class B boys (six events).

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