By: Con Marshall
Track and field seems to be a popular sport among the region’s high school athletes this spring, judging by both the numbers and the competitiveness Saturday at Chadron State College’s annual indoor meet that kicked off the season.
More than 500 athletes were entered. They came from some of the largest and some of the smallest schools within about a 200 mile radius of Chadron and entries in the various events totaled at least 950, making it perhaps the largest in the 38-year history of the event.
Particularly among the girls, no school dominated the list of individual event winners. Gering, Scottsbluff and Rapid City Central each had two, but the others came six other schools.
A couple of the best battles were between Emilee Nickel of Rapid City Central and Makenzee Grubbs of Upton. Nickel won the 55-meter dash and Grubbs was the runner-up. In the 55-meter hurdles, the order was reversed with Grubbs finishing first and Nickel second.
The other girls’ events were won by Lexus Voelker of Newcastle, 200; Rebekah Rawlings of Gering, 400, Yara Garcia of Scottsbluff, 800; Anna Birnbaum of Rapid City Christian, 1600; Jessi Badje of Hay Springs, 3200; Brianna Eckerberg of Gering, shot put; Hannah Biesecker of Kimball, long jump; Josie Otto of Alliance, high jump; and Tiersa Darley of Scottsbluff, pole vault. This was the second year in a row that Eckerberg won the shot put.
The top honors were not quite as widely disbursed in the boys’ action.
Led by Sage Hagen, Rapid City Central had four event winners. Hagan won the 55 dash and then set the meet’s only record when he went 45 feet, 3 inches in the triple jump. That’s exactly a foot longer than the old mark set by Justin Relka of Gering in 1998.
Hagan also won the triple jump last year, but he went just 40-2. He also was third in the long jump this year.
The Cobblers’ other winners were Logan McGouch, who threw the shot put 49 feet, and Antonio Pierce, who won the high hurdles for the second year in a row, but was considerably faster. His time Saturday was 7.88 seconds, compared to 8.42 last year.
Collin Brauer of Sidney also was an impressive repeat winner. He won the 3200 Saturday in 10:49.88, some 37 seconds faster than his winning time a year ago.
Three of Brauer’s teammates won shorter races Saturday. They are Kalen Krantz, 200; Christian Balandran, 400; and Will Castner, 800. Another winner on the track was Xavier Arellano of Gering in the 1600.
Trevor Ridenour of Alliance took the high jump for the second year in a row, going 6-2 both times.
Two Chadron seniors rounded out the boys’ individual winners. Joe Ritzen cleared 12-7 to capture the pole vault and Brendinh Sayaloune went 21-7 to win the long jump. Sayaloune also was the runner-up to Hagen in the 55 dash.
Sidney’s Mitch Porter took second in both the triple jump and the high jump. Rylan Cheney from tiny Cody-Kilgore was second in the 3200 and third in the 1600.
The larger schools dominated the relays. Although Sidney girls did not win any of the individual events, they won two of the three relays. Alliance won the third. Gering captured two of the boys’ relays and Sidney won the other.