SIOUX CITY, Iowa — After a cold and windy week, Saturday provided some relief as athletes from Mount Marty and the University of South Dakota competed against other area colleges in Day Two of the Sioux City Relays, held at Elwood Olson Stadium on the campus of Morningside College.
On the women’s side, Amber Ewers, Tess Johnson and Yankton-native Rachel Weinandt competed on both the 1600 meter relay and 1600 meter sprint medley relay teams as the Coyotes claimed first place in both events. Molly Ervin (1600) and Tanasha Clarke (sprint medley) rounded out those relays squads.
Former Gazelle runner Ashlea Johnson was a member of USD’s “B” sprint medley team that placed fourth.
Briar Cliff saw two local athletes finish with top-four finishes during the day. Wynot’s Haley Howery and Yankton’s Jayna Specht both ran on the Chargers’ fourth-place 3200 meter relay squad while Specht added a fourth (800 meter relay) and a sixth (1600 meter relay) in other events.
In other running events, Coyotes Katie Wetzstein (4th), Yankton’s Megan Hilson (6th) and Amber Eichkorn (7th) had top-seven finishes in the 1500 meter run while Ervin added a third-place finish in the 400 meter hurdles.
Mount Marty’s Kelli Norrid, a sophomore from Winner, placed 16th in the 100 meter hurdles and added a 14th-place effort in the 400 meter hurdles.
“Kelli ran a nice race (400 hurdles) in her first time out this season,” Lancers coach Randy Fischer said. “We are hoping to get her time down a bit more to get ready for conference in a few more weeks but for now her season looks very promising.”
The Lancers also got a top-10 finish in the 3000 meter steeple chase with sophomore Beth Finnegan (Ponca, Neb.) placing ninth.
In field events, the Coyotes placed first and third in the pole vault - which was held at the DakotaDome due to conditions - with Emily Grove clearing 13-06 for the victory and Madison Mills vaulting 13-00 for third.
Mount Marty’s April Winne was fourth in the high jump as the Olivet-native went 5-2.25, just missing out on second-place finish because of more jump attempts.
“April had a great meet for just her second time out this year,” Fischer added. “I think she has the potential to get 5-04 or 5-05 and do well at conference for us once that rolls around.”
Wagner-native LaShawn Medicine Horn placed just behind Winne in the high jump in fifth with a leap of 5-00.25.
In the long jump, former Crofton High School standout Holly Hegge (sophomore) placed sixth with a leap of 16-07.75.
“Holly is making great progress,” Fischer noted. “She (along with Winne and Norrid) is making a nice transition from basketball to track in spite of the challenging weather when it has been tough to find quality time outside.”
Sophomore Abbey VanDenBerg placed eighth in the long jump for the Lancers and finished third in the triple jump - the event that she earned an All-American award in at March’s indoor championships. VanDenBerg’s jump of 35-10.50 was less than a foot off of first place and was beat out by a pair of Division II jumpers from USF.
“Abbey had a nice meet,” Fischer added. “The jumps are tough in the cold weather so we are hoping that with some warmer weather later this month she can qualify for nationals for outdoor.”
Yankton-native and Lancer sophomore Emily Anderson placed eighth in the triple jump (33-07.25).
Rounding out the women’s action was South Dakota freshman Meghan Dennis with a victory in the Javelin by over 30 feet, with a throw of 151-04.
Breanna Janovy claimed another victory for the Coyotes in the discus with a toss of 148-01. Teammate Kayla Lester placed fourth (126-02).
In what Coyotes’ junior Jeff Mettler described as a “tune-up” meet, the USD distance men put on quite a show on Saturday afternoon.
Following a 1500 meter run that saw Mettler claim a three-second victory (3:56) along with a 10th place effort by USD’s Stephen Nielson, the Coyotes went on to claim six of the top nine spots in the 5000 meter run just a couple hours later.
Mettler led a USD top-three sweep in the 5000 with a clocking of 14:47, just one second ahead of teammate Brant Hasse. Coyote freshman Mubarik Musa placed third while Yankton-native Alex Hohenthaner was fifth. Ethan Marquardt placed eighth and Benson Langat finished ninth.
“That 5000 was awesome,” Mettler said. “We talked to coach a little bit before and we wanted to have a pack of guys in front. To have that it was really fun - we’ve been putting a lot of work so to have a group of guys like that was pretty nice.”
Even though Saturday was still unseasonably cool, Mettler still said it was quite an improvement as the Coyotes gear up for a pair of two big meets.
“Last week we were in Yankton (at the Dakota Duals) and it was pretty rough weather,” Mettler said. “It wasn’t exactly great today either but it was definitely an improvement. It was nice to have some decent weather to run some faster times.”
After a pair of local meets, the Coyotes will travel to Lawrence, Kan. next weekend and then on to Des Moines for the Drake Relays.
“This is a stepping stone,” Mettler added. “With Kansas and Drake coming up I definitely wanted to come out here and to compete to win and I was happy with how the day went.”
The Coyotes also claimed a pair of victories in the 400 and 800 meter relays. Michael Burrus, Christian Nielsen and Brandon Kovash ran on both squads while Tyndall-native Tad Schuurmans (4x100) and Jeff O’Connell (4x200) contributed to the wins.
SDSU freshman Austin Hamm placed sixth in the 3000 meter steeplechase as the former Bloomfield standout clocked a 9:57. Mount Marty junior Mychal Bierwagen also competed in the steeplechase, placing 14th (11:12).
Former Bucks’ hurdler Logan Ulmer, now a sophomore for the Lancers, placed 18th in the 110 meter hurdles and 27th in the 400 meter hurdles to round out the events on the track.
Armour-native Tyler Payer led the Lancers in field events, placing fifth in the long jump (21-02.75) and tying for ninth in the high jump (5-11.15).
“Tyler should have a good chance to be an All-GPAC performer for us,” coach Fischer said. “He is another athlete making the transition from basketball to track and will hopefully keep improving as the season goes on.”
South Dakota’s Kevin Sarenhkhani (16-06) and Peter Chapman (15-06) placed second and fifth respectively in the pole vault.
Former Vermillion Tanager William Mart added to his school record hammer throw performance on Friday night with a 16th place effort in the discus as the Lancer freshman threw 125-09.
“Will had a great meet - breaking our school record in the hammer throw and then having a nice discus performance in only his second collegiate meet in that event,” Fischer added. “He should be able to get our discus school record and we are counting on him to keep getting better every time out.”
Mount Marty heads to Orange City, Iowa for the Red Raider Invitational next weekend as the window to get marks for the GPAC outdoor meet is closing quickly.
“It has been a struggle to get outside and really get going at full speed with our workouts, but everyone is dealing with it so we aren’t the only ones,” Fischer said. “We are just trying to do the best we can under the circumstances just like everyone else.”
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