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State track notebook: Kraft closes out career in style

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SIOUX FALLS -- Wessington Springs standout senior Jase Kraft collapsed as he crossed the finish line, attempting to reach the state meet record in the boys 1,600-meter run at the Class B state track and field meet.

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Kraft won the event with a time of 4 minutes, 19 seconds, which was 18 seconds better than second-place Daniel Burkhalter, of Bison. Kraft also won the 800 and 3,200 Friday.

The 1,600 record holder is Harley Hanson, of New Effington/Rosholt, who ran a time of 4:18.44, set in 1988. Kraft dove across the line at 4:19.00, just shy of the record.

"That has been in my mind for two years," Kraft said of going after the record. "Last year, I was trying to go for it and I was a little ways off. I came into the meet within four seconds of it and I knew I had it in me. I wanted to get out fast and I put myself in a good position. I needed 65 (seconds) the last lap and I just couldn't do it."

The final 100 meters of the race saw the large Howard Wood Field crowd stand and cheer Kraft on. It didn't fall on deaf ears.

"There's no atmosphere quite like state," Kraft said. "Once I got out into the lead and people knew what I was doing, they were all cheering for me. I'm so blessed to have so many friends come up to me and ask if I was going for the record. When I said 'yes,' they said they'd be cheering for me and I could hear them the whole mile."

Kraft, who is headed to the University of Sioux Falls next year, thought it might have helped if he would have had somebody pushing him.

"It definitely would have helped," he said. "It's always easier to run from behind."

Despite receiving medical attention after the 1,600, Kraft ran in the 400-meter dash just minutes later. He placed eighth in the event.

Kraft was named the Class B boys most outstanding track athlete, an award voted on by the coaches. He scored all 31 points for the Spartans at the meet.

Heller takes Class B 100 meter

Platte-Geddes senior Kole Heller had a senior year to remember for the Black Panthers.

Heller won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.11 seconds at the Class B boys state track and field meet Saturday.

"I don't think you could ask for a better senior year than the one I've had," said Heller, who helped the Platte-Geddes boys basketball team to second place this year.

Heller was chasing a state meet record, which is set at 10.96 seconds by New Underwood's Josh Schluesner in 1998. Heller said after he got out to a good start, he was focused on getting to the finish line in record time.

"Toward the end, I was thinking about that state record and going after that," Heller said. "It would have been great to have a record on top of everything."

Heller was pushed in the race by Irene-Wakonda's Garrett Anderson and Avon senior Brandon Kocmich. Anderson crossed the line second in 11.20, while Kocmich was third with time of 11.28.

Heller said the win early in the day had his confidence high going into the 200-meter dash, where he placed third in 23.79. Anderson was first with a time of 23.47, while Kocmich was second at 23.78.

Corsica/Stickney runs to relay championship

The Corsica/Stickney boys 400-meter relay team held on to claim the Class B championship with a time of 44.82 seconds. Herreid/Selby Area and Freeman finished second and third in less than a second behind the Jaguars.

The winning team consists of senior Mason Van Vuuren, junior Kruz Knudson, junior Austin Tilton and sophomore Eli Van Roekel.

"It all started at Howard Wood (earlier this spring)," Van Vuuren said. "We ran a good time and kept going from there. We came into the finals with the fastest time. Being a senior and the first time winning anything at state, it's great."

Johanneson places second in high jump

Andes Central's Payton Johanneson had the best high jump of the year coming into the Class B state track and field meet at 5 feet, 7 inches, but the junior finished second with a jump of 5-1 Saturday.

"I've jumped better than this all year but my nerves got to me today," Johanneson said. "I've got another year, so I hope I can pull it out next year."

The event was won by Herreid/Selby Area's Haylee Biel, who had fewer faults than Johanneson.

Johanneson got off to a good start, clearing 5-0 on her first attempt. At 5-1, Johanneson missed on her first attempt. Biel cleared the same height on her first attempt.

Dell Rapids St. Mary's Ally Mullaney finished third and needed her third jump to clear the height. Biel, Johanneson, and Mullaney failed on all three of their jumps at 5-2.

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