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Ascending Howard freshman Melanie Calmus has high aspirations for state meet

Coming off an eighth-grade year where she finished third-place in the 100-meter and a second-place in the 200-meter dash at state, Calmus will enter this year’s state meet laser-focused to nab her first state title.

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Howard's Melanie Calmus competes in the girls 4x200-meter relay race during the Region 4B track and field meet on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Chester.
Branden Hull / Mitchell Republic
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HOWARD — As an eighth-grader last year, to her own surprise, Howard’s Melanie Calmus placed in the top-three of both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash at the Class B state meet held in Rapid City.

Now approaching this year’s state meet as a freshman, Calmus has much more confidence, she’s trained much harder in the offseason and has been pushed all season long by teammates and coaches to test her limits.

Calmus has placed in the top-three of the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dash in four of the six meets this season. She’s finished first in both 100-meter and 200-meter twice and placed top-three in the 400-meter dash twice. Calmus has the third best time in the 100-meter and 200-meter race, raising her expectations to nothing short of being a finalist in not only the individual competitions, but with the relay team as well.

“I was really surprised with myself last year at state and I think even thought my coaches were a bit surprised too,” Calmus said. “This year won’t be like that. I want to make sure I’m in the finals in every event so myself and the team have to come in focused.”

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Howard's Melanie Calmus (right) hands the baton to Anna Becker during the girls 4x200-meter relay race in the Region 4B track and field meet on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Chester.
Branden Hull / Mitchell Republic

Calmus entered the 2022 track season focused on improving in all facets and details on the track. Her first-year head coach Landon Hemmer has spent time with Calmus throughout the season, building her core in the weight room and strategizing on the details when she comes out the block to make her even faster.

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Hemmer said he heard from Howard’s previous track coach that Calmus was very good, but he didn’t realize it until the first meet of the year.

“I had heard things about her from the previous coach but I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into until we started practicing,” Hemmer said. “She’s an extremely hard worker and very detail-oriented for her age. She’s constantly tweaking small details to make herself even faster and you could tell right away that she was way above a lot of the talent we have on the rest of the team.”

In her first meet of the season at the Jack Rasmussen Relays, Calmus finished her 100-meter race in 12.24 seconds. That time was 0.24 seconds faster than any time she posted last season. Nearly one week later at the Flyer Invitational, Calmus set a personal best time of 25.84 seconds in the 200-meter dash and finished her 400-meter race in a personal record-best time of 1:02.64.

According to Hemmer, with Calmus posting such fast times to start the year, he’s found it challenging trying to coach her differently while still making sure she’s integrated with the team.

“Coming in as a freshman, sometimes they want to just go with the flow and fit in with the rest of the team, but having someone like her requires different training methods because she’s someone who can go to Sioux Falls this weekend and possibly come away with four medals,” Hemmer said. “Luckily for me, we have some other freshmen on the relay team that run with her and can challenge her a little bit.”

Howard has a 4x100 and 4x200-relay team that consists of three freshmen outside of Calmus in Grace Lewis, Tana Hoyer and Ellie Becker. All three of these athletes have trained alongside Calmus at various times of the year and Hemmer thinks this class of freshman can make something special happen in the years to come.

“Our whole freshman class should be exciting to watch as long as they stay focused and keep progressing over the next couple of years,” Hemmer said. “They could be pretty special in a couple years, as they continue to grow together and push one another.”

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Howard's 4x100 and 4x200-meter relay team (left to right: Grace Lewis, Tana Hoyer, Melanie Calmus and Ellie Becker) pose for a photo after the Howard Wood Dakota Relays meet on May 7, 2022 at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Branden Hull / Mitchell Republic

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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