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Class AA athletes competing in javelin this season

Aberdeen Central’s Brady Rohrbach competes in the javelin throw last Thursday at the Al Sahli Invitational at the Brownell Complex and Track. Photo by John Davis taken 4/28/2022

South Dakota’s Class AA track and field athletes have a new event to compete in this spring. The javelin has been added as an official event for the state’s largest schools and will be added for Class A and B squads next season.

Aberdeen Central has had 11 boys and nine girls compete in the event so far.

“It’s been going good. We started out last year. We had some exhibition stuff going,” said Aberdeen Central boys’ coach Greg Murley. “We’re pretty fortunate that we have pretty competent throw coaches who have dabbled with it before.”

Naturally, with anything new, there is always a learning curve involved. That’s where Central has been able to tap into Northern State throw coach Jon Evenson. Colleges have had the javelin event for years.

“He’s always willing to help our coaches out when they have questions,” Murley said. “Northern has been a really good resource for us.”

Murley said that Jill Hermansen is Central’s primary javelin coach. He said the Golden Eagles are in good shape under her guidance.

“She’s one of the best coaches in our district, overall. She’s just a very, very solid coach at whatever she does,” Murley said. “She’s a little bit of a perfectionist. You don’t want to be around her very much when they have a bunch of success, because she punches you in the arm when they do really good and she punches pretty hard. She gets excited and she’s a go-getter. I think our kids are in really good hands.”

Murley said that for the time being, many of the individuals competing in the javelin are shot put and discus throwers. He’s not sure that trend will necessarily continue.

He noted that one of Northern’s top javelin throwers back in the day was Sarge Grimes who also competed in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. He also pointed out that one of Watertown’s top javelin throwers this season is also a triple jumper.

“You’re not going to see the big bulky kids over there throwing the javelin like you would think,” Murley said.

Murley said for the time being there are still some logistical elements that need to be ironed out when it comes to the javelin. For starters, there are now three throwing events, which can be hard to fit in during a short time span. So the javelin has been starting before other events at a regular meet.

“They’re kind of outside of the meet still,” Murley said, “so we’re still working on that aspect of it.”

Not only that, but not all tracks have an area available to throw the javelin. For instance, this weekend the javelin portion of the O’Gorman Invitational will take place at Sioux Falls Roosevelt, because O’Gorman doesn’t have the space to host the javelin.

“We don’t see it very often with us,” Murley said, “because our facility has a lot of acreage to it.”

For years South Dakota did not allow high schools to compete in the javelin for safety reasons. Even now, there are built in safe-guards associated with the event, but as Murley pointed out, the javelin might be safer than the discus, which can fly in various directions as opposed to a straight-line javelin throw.

The javelin adds another event where precious points can be scored when it comes down to battles for state titles and everybody is getting on board.

“Sioux Falls went a lot of years without pole vault until they realized they’re going to struggle to win the state championship without it,” Murley said. “I don’t know of any AA school that isn’t throwing the javelin right now.”


There are two athletes who lead three individual events this week.

Simeon Birnbaum leads the Class AA boys in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs. He also ran an open 400 recently and has the third best time in that event.

Chester Area’s Jovi Wolf leads the Class B boys in the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes.

There are 12 athletes who top a pair of individual events including Aberdeen Central’s Sam Rohlfs in the Class AA boys long jump and triple jump, and Hamlin’s Gracelyn Leiseth in the Class A girls shot put and discus.


The Chester Area boys lead the most events when it comes to team leaders this week. The Flyers top nine events in Class B Boys.

Other team leaders include Brandon Valley in Class AA boys (six sevents), Brandon Valley and Sioux Falls Lincoln in Class AA girls (five events each), Sioux Falls Christian in Class A boys (five events), Sioux Falls Christian in Class A girls (seven events), and Colman-Egan in Class B girls (six events).

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