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Widener defends hurdles championship; Ipswich wins combined team title

Langford Area’s Zander Widener clears the final hurdle on his way to winning the 300-meter hurdles event at the Class B South Dakota State Track Meet in Rapid City Saturday. Photo by John Davis taken 5/29/2021

RAPID CITY – It was a big day for Lake Region Conference members and an unforgettable day when it came to the boys’ team championship during the Class B portion of the State Track and Field Meet at O’Hara Stadium in Rapid City on Saturday.

Langford Area’s Zander Widener won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, Ipswich won the combined team title, and Hanson pulled off a last-event comeback to knock off Viborg-Hurley in boys’ team points.

Widener led from start to finish en route to defending his state championship.

“You have to be the first one to go over the hurdle,” Widener said. “Go out hard. After that, it’s just a gut race.”

Once Widener had the lead, he was not about to surrender it.

“A couple of those hurdles I stutter-stepped,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to go over it with my leg left, because I’m not a dual-legged hurdler. So I just gathered myself to get over the hurdle and kept running as hard as I could.”

Widener, who defended his title in the 110-meter high hurdles on Friday, has an interesting view of the longer hurdles race.

“The funny thing is, I hate that race,” Widener said of the 300s, “but I’m good at it, so I just gut it out and do what I can.”

Ipswich had reason to celebrate after it won the combined team championship. The Tigers tied for seventh in the girls’ division and were ninth in the boys’ points.

“It’s just a blessing to have kids that never give up and work hard,” said Ipswich coach Todd Thorson. “We came into it hoping to have our personal bests. We’re not overly concerned (with the award), but it is nice to get a little recognition like that.”

The Tigers, who won just one event, received contributions from many in order to win the combined title.

“Every little point counted. In athletics, there’s always a lot of close things, whether it be basketball or football,” Thorson said. ‘I just feel fortunate that we were able to come down here and compete.”

The Tigers also won the combined state championship in 2019.

The boys’ team chase came down to the final event. Pre-meet favorite Viborg-Hurley led Hanson by nine points. However, the Beavers won the event and when Viborg-Hurley finished ninth, one spot from placing, it gave Hanson the team championship by a single point, 79-78.

“Perfect storm on the whole weekend, really. Viborg is in our conference, so we’ve kind of battled with them the whole year,” said Hanson coach Tyler Payer. “We knew their points were maybe a little more solidified, but our kids performed as well as we could have asked. Our jumpers, our throwers, kids on the track, all around you couldn’t have asked for a better effort from our boys.”

Langford Area and Warner tied for fourth in boys’ team points.

Colman-Egan won the girls’ team championship.

From seventh-graders to seniors, LRC athletes made their presence known on Saturday.

Alec Maier of North Central capped his career with a flurry. The Eureka senior competed in four events on the day, including the last three in a row: the 800-meter run, the 200-meter dash and the 1,600-meter relay.

“The schedule wasn’t really on my side this year, clearly,” Maier said. “I would have loved to not have the 200 right after my 8, but it’s just how it worked out.”

Maier turned in a solid effort in the 800, closing strong to nip Bison’s Jonathan Burkhalter (this year’s 1,600 and 3,200 state champion) at the finish line.

“I didn’t think I would have it in me because I lost the Hanson kid too early,” Maier said of race winner Thailan Hallman who set a blistering pace. Maier then set his sights on catching Burkhalter. “I just pushed it in. I was lucky to have enough energy to catch him right at the finish line.”

Maier was happy to be active at the state meet and earn a couple of state places in his final prep meet before heading off to compete at Minnesota State Moorhead.

“I’m happy to be here and glad it ended on a good note,” Maier said. “It’s been a good year. I’m just happy to be here and thankful to make it on the podium.”

A younger delegation was also happy to be at the state meet and made the most of their chances.

Ipswich seventh-grader Marley Guthmiller still had people talking after winning the pole vault on Friday. The 13-year-old entered the meet as the 14th seed, but soared to a personal best height of 9-feet, 6-inches.

“My PR was 7-9 before then,” Guthmiller said. “That was the starting height.”

She noted she practiced with a longer pole the week leading up to the state meet. Her teammate Kaitlyn Williams was second.

“I knew I’d be going against my team, too,” Guthmiller said. “They’re the ones who taught me how to do it all and showed me.”

She became the fourth Ipswich girl to win a state pole vault championship.

Frederick’s Morgan Sumption placed fourth in the 800-meter run in her initial state meet. Sumption found herself briefly leading the race coming out of turn two on the final lap.

“These girls are really good. I knew I’d have to kick it in,” Sumption said. “I’ve been working on trying to get my kick farther and farther back. Cross country has really helped with that.”

The freshman finished with a personal best time of 2:27.47 and can’t wait to make a return trip to the state meet.

“I’m just happy because this is my first time being here, so I’m happy that I could bring some points to our team,” Sumption said. “I can’t wait to come back here next year to really push myself again.”

The state meet was also a memorable one for Aberdeen Christian’s Shawnteah La Croix. The seventh-grader came in seeded 20th in the 200-meter dash. She not only won her heat, but her time of :27.94 was good enough to make the top 10.

“I just tried to run it and get it done with, just to have fun,” La Croix said.

When asked what she would have said had someone told her at the beginning of the season that she would be one of the top 10 200-meter runners in the state, La Croix responded, “I wouldn’t have believed them, honestly.”

Christian coach David Rohrbach was impressed with his sprinter.

“Obviously, she has a lot of potential,” Rohrbach said. “For her to do that at her first state meet was very impressive and definitely something to build on.”

It’s one thing to crack the top 10, but doing it by winning the slowest of three heats and running in lane seven, made the accomplishment even more impressive.

“She just ran a really good race and PRd at state which is awesome,” Rohrbach said. “It should give her a lot of confidence.”

Rohrbach also pointed out some solid efforts in the jumps and relays. In general, the young Knights gained some valuable experience.

“Really good experience. Bringing 12 people here I think is the most we’ve ever brought to a state meet,” Rohrbach said. “So definitely something we can build on. Only one senior, so hopefully some momentum to build and hopefully bring a lot of these kids back and hopefully more.”

To view complete meet results click on the following link:

https://results.dakotatiming.com/display.html?event_id=761

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