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Leiseth records nation’s top throw in winning shot put title

Hamlin’s Gracelyn Leiseth reacts after the distance of her throw was announced to the crowd during the Class A girls shot put Saturday at the State Track and Field Meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 5/28/2022

SIOUX FALLS – Hamlin’s Gracelyn Leiseth just keeps getting better and better.

Saturday the junior not only broke her state record again, she soared to the top of the country. Leiseth recorded a throw of 52-feet 6 3/4-inches to win the Class A girls’ shot put during the State Track and Field Meet at Howard Wood Field. The throw is currently the best in the nation.

“That throw, it just felt really good,” Leiseth said of the attempt that broke her personal and state record by three feet. “My footwork felt super good, and I just finished on that shot.”

Leiseth has consistently gotten better as the year has gone on. She said getting a solid initial throw helps her to relax throughout the rest of the competition.

“The first throw is a little nerve wrecking,” Leiseth said. “You just have to get that first one out there to get you in finals, and then after that usually I’m pretty relaxed.”

The Milbank Area boys finished second in team points and capped off the year by running to a state championship in the 1,600-meter relay.

The Bulldogs broke their school record in a time of 3:26.08.

“We knew coming into this we were going to have to put in a good effort to qualify and an even better effort to finish and win the title,” said lead runner Kaden Krause. “It’s a good way to go out on a senior year.”

The team received a big boost on its second leg when Nick Batchelor took out a little frustration by giving the Bulldogs a lead they would never lose.

“It felt good to end it on a good note, especially after getting second twice and third,” Batchelor said of his other events. “I put everything on the last hundred.”

Milbank’s Nick Batchelor, left, takes the baton from teammate Kaden Krause, right, during the Class A boys 1600 meter relay Saturday at the State Track and Field Meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 5/28/2022

From there, third leg Garrett Mertens knew he just had to maintain the margin because Bennett Schwenn was waiting in the anchor position.

“I knew I had to keep the pace going,” Mertens said, “and if I had a little bit of a lead I knew he would be able to finish it.”

Schwenn, who earlier in the meet won a state title in the triple jump, did finish it to add another state championship to his ledger.

“I think this one is more special,” Schwenn said comparing the two championships, “a relay with two other seniors and end off my career on a win. It’s just pretty special.”

Another senior had a special conclusion to her season as well.

Mobridge-Pollock’s Landyn Henderson found herself in a three-way battle down the stretch of the girls’ 1,600-meter relay. Henderson was able to fight off the competition to give the Tigers the state title. Other squad members included Jacy Netterville, Faith Heil and Ryli Thompson.

“I just wanted to do it for my team,” Henderson said.

Mobridge-Pollock’s Landyn Henderson, center, crosses the finish line ahead of Custer’s Josey Wahlstrom, left and Anna Vyn, of Sioux Falls Christian, far left, in the Class A girls 1600 meter relay Saturday at the State Track and Field Meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 5/28/2022

Interestingly, Henderson doesn’t even normally run the anchor leg.

“It was actually a last-minute decision to have me run last,” Henderson said. “They’re like you’re the senior, let’s have you do it.”

Henderson usually starts the relays, but in her last race found a fitting way to finish this one.

“I like thinking that I’m behind everybody,” Henderson said, “so this was a lot more challenging trying to keep your own pace.”

To see complete meet results, click on the following link:

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