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Milbank Area sweeps titles at National Guard meet

Gunner Thielges, of LaMoure, ND, left, starts over the last hurdle with Aberdeen Roncalli’s Brody Weinmeister, center and Aiden Fisher, far right, in the boys 300 meter hurdles Thursday at the South Dakota National Guard meet in Milbank. Photo by John Davis taken 4/27/2023

MILBANK – Milbank Area captured team championships in both divisions during the South Dakota National Guard meet on Thursday. Aberdeen Roncalli finished second in boys’ team points, while Great Plains Lutheran was runner-up in the girls’ division.

The competition proved to be intense as was evidenced in the boys’ 300-meter intermediate hurdles where Roncalli’s Aiden Fisher won a photo finish against Gunner Thielges of LaMoure, N.D.

Fisher, who started in lane one, trailed the entire race before edging Thielges by less than a tenth of a second at the finish.

“I just told myself keeping pushing, keep pushing,” Fisher said.

The battle was so close that Fisher did not know who had won the race for minutes following the event.

He said having the race play out in front of him because of his starting lane proved to be beneficial.

“I think it’s an advantage,” Fisher said, “because you can just see people’s time and pace that they’re trying to get.”

Halle Bauer of Great Plains Lutheran also had to come up big at the finish of the Sprint Medley Relay. The junior was running the anchor leg and received the baton in third place.

Bauer did not waste any time in chasing down the competition.

Great Plains Lutheran’s Halle Bauer, right, leads the way to the finish line as she anchors the girls’ 1600 meter sprint medley relay Thursday at the South Dakota National Guard meet in Milbank. Photo by John Davis taken 4/27/2023

“It seemed like a lot at first,” Bauer said of the ground she had to make up, “and then once I got going, I just kept moving and knew that if I stick to my pace I could catch them.”

Bauer also won the 1,600-meter run before the medley, but in much different fashion.

“This one was way more intense,” Bauer said after leading her team to victory in the medley. “The mile, I was kind of running by myself. This one, it was good to have someone to chase and push me.”

Webster’s Gavin Witt ran like someone was chasing him en route to winning the 200-meter dash. The sophomore flew around the corner and topped a potent field to take the win.

When asked how he was able to do that, Witt responded, “I don’t know. I just put it in gear and ran.”

Webster’s Gavin Witt, left, leads the way to the finish line in the boys 200 meter dash Thursday at the South Dakota National Guard meet in Milbank. Trailing in the race, left to right are: Milbank’s Garrett Mertens and Webster’s Carson Mount and Martin Dorsett. Photo by John Davis taken 4/27/2023

Witt is among the top Class A sprinters in the state and some of his main competition was also in the race.

“I knew it was going to be tough. Right now I’m tied for sixth in the state with a couple of Hamlin boys,” Witt said. One of those Hamlin sprinters was lined up next to Witt, but was unable to finish the race. “I knew he was going to be right next to me, so I knew I was going to have to really give it my all.”

It was business as usual for Hamlin’s Gracelyn Leiseth in the shot put and discus. The senior standout, who already holds state records in both, topped the competition in each.

The University of Florida recruit tries to keep her goals manageable.

“I just make small goals for myself,” Leiseth said. “I don’t try to go too crazy, because you just have to do small goals at a time and just keep building from there.”

Hamlin’s Gracelyn Leiseth tosses the shot put Thursday at the South Dakota National Guard meet in Milbank. Photo by John Davis taken 4/27/2023

Leiseth said that technique is extremely important in both throws.

“Strength definitely helps for sure,” Leiseth said. “I do weight training and stuff, but technique is so important to hit your spots and things like that.”

Aberdeen athletes won numerous events on the day.

Shawnteah La Croix of Aberdeen Christian won the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, while Abe Kretchman captured the triple jump.

“Solid day,” said Christian coach Sam Bjorkman. “It’s just about competition and repetition.”

And with several quality Class A teams among the field, there was plenty of competition.

“Good competition and a small meet,” Bjorkman said. “It’s kind of the best of both worlds.”

The Knights will compete in Eureka on Tuesday before heading to the Howard Wood Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls next weekend.

In addition to Fisher, Roncalli received wins from Maddox May in the 400-meter dash, Jayden Munroe in the long jump and the 1,600-meter relay squad consisting of Munroe, Caden Shelton, Brody Weinmeister and Parker Grieben.

“I’m pretty pleased with the day,” said Roncalli coach Brady Lesnar.

He pointed to the efforts of a pair of relay squads that ran season-best times.

“Our (boys’) 4×1 I thought ran fairly well,” Lesnar said. “We dropped probably a half second, second off of our time that we ran the other day (in Miller), so that’s always good to see.”

The same thing happened in the girls’ division.

“Our girls’ 4×1 dropped their time by about a half-second, second as well,” Lesnar said. “I thought the Schmidt girls (Paige and Sarah) ran a really good race there. From what I saw their handoffs were really nice.”

The Cavaliers have a busy 10 days ahead, returning to Milbank on Tuesday for the Valley Queen Cheese Invitational, then heading to Sisseton next Friday before running at Webster the following Monday.

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

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