Yankton will take 21 girls’ entries, six boys’ entries and all five relays on each side to the South Dakota State Track and Field Championships, Friday and Saturday. Friday’s action will be held in Brandon, with Saturday’s competition in all classes to be held in Sioux Falls.
The Yankton girls will have at least one entry in all 14 individual events in the meet, something that has Yankton head coach Luke Youmans excited.
“What makes it fun is being able to fill out the entire meet,” he said. “We’ll have individual events throughout the day, with relays sandwiched in. All the girls’ relays have a chance to make it to day two or, in the 3200 relay, make the podium on Friday.”
In the 100 and 200, junior Jaiden Boomsma will try to become the first Gazelle to place at state since Ashlea Johnson in 2008. Boomsma is seeded seventh in a tight 100 field — just 0.08 seconds separates second and seventh — and fifth in the 200.
“It’s certainly a little brighter knowing the we have a good 100, 200 runner with the potential to place,” Youmans said. “She will definitely help the team aspect, since this is a place that we’ve taken an egg (0 points) the last few years.”
A young corp also has the potential to score points in the middle distance and distance races. The four runners that make up six entries for Yankton from the 400 to the 3200 are either eighth graders or freshmen.
“They have great leg speed, and compete well in the distance races as well,” Youmans said. “We expect a lot out of them.”
Freshman Madisyn Bietz ranks fifth in the 800 and is entered in the 1600, with eighth grader Sydnee Serck ranked eighth in the 800. Thea Chance ranks 10th in the 1600 and 13th in the 3200. Freshman Annika Gordon ranks 13th in the 400.
“We’re not really loaded up on any one event,” Youmans said. “It’s a place we’re we look to score a lot of points.”
In the hurdles, junior Kelsey Oswald ranks sixth in the 300-meter event and eighth in the 100-meter event.
“We don’t have two and three in every event, but we have to have a ‘horse’ if we want to compete as a team,” Youmans said. “Kelsey fills that void in the hurdles. She comes in as one of the top contenders in both events.”
Junior Sadie Fedders qualified in both throwing events, with senior Lois Bottin also qualified in the shot put.
“A couple of weeks ago, they weren’t in the field,” Youmans said. “Sadie had some good performances at the end, and Lois has been hanging around all year.”
Boomsma enters as the top seed in the long jump, with sophomore Nykki Husman and junior Madison Wuebben also entered. Husman and Wuebben are also entered in the triple jump, with Husman ranked ninth. Wuebben also qualified in the high jump. Seniors Miranda Schulte and Samantha Kortan are entered in the pole vault.
“Jaiden has consistently been at the top of every event,” Youmans said. “After Jaiden, our girls have had glimpses. If those girls could show up and have a day, that could really turn the tide for our girls.”
In the relays, the Gazelles rank fifth in the 3200 and medley relays, seventh in the 800 and 1600 relays, and 11th in the 400 relay.
The Gazelles finished third a season ago, and will look to bring back team hardware again this season.
“Anywhere on the podium would be a big accomplishment to a program like Yankton,” Youmans said. “But we keep finding a way to be competitive. Hopefully they will continue the tradition of Gazelles teams up on the podium.”
On the boys’ side, the Bucks are highlighted by sophomore Matthew Mors, who is tied for fifth in a tight high jump field and ranks ninth in the long jump.
“High jump will be wide open. It’s an event that could swing to our advantage. The name of the game is staying clean from six foot and up,” Youmans said. “In the long jump, Matthew has jumped well, but we haven’t seen close to his best.”
The Bucks have two throwers in the shot put, freshmen Bodie Rutledge and Carson Haak.
“Two weeks ago they were not there,” Youmans said. “They’ve had personal bests three meets in a row, and punched their tickets at the last chance meet.”
Yankton also has freshman Will Pavlish in the 800 and junior Kyler Lillie in the 110 hurdles.
“Both are coming back next year,” Youmans said. “Kyler hasn’t been to state before, and worked hard to get there. Will is another one of the big components for the future, who earned his spot this year.”
Yankton potentially could have had other Bucks in individual events, but those athletes chose to pursue better chances to score in the relays.
“The nice part about this year is the increase in participants from last year,” Youmans said. “We had a few decide to chase the podium in relays, especially the medley.”
Yankton enters the meet ranked 10th in the medley relay, 11th in the 1600 and 3200 relays, and 14th in the 400 and 800 relays.
With only two seniors among the 20 individuals headed to state for the Bucks, the weekend is potentially a great learning experience for Yankton.
“We’re going to chalk it up to experience,” Youmans said. “But we don’t want more ‘experience’ years after this year. We want them to be competing for podium spots in years to come.”
While a top-four finish may not be in the cards for the Bucks this year, Youmans is hoping to see a step forward from last year’s one team point performance.
“We know it’s not realistic for our boys to be on the podium,” he said. “When we look at our guys’ team, will take nearly this entire group and transplant them into next season.
“We want to see improvement.”
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