Familiar faces return to the track and field scene this season.
As the track and field season approaches, the Mitchell-area teams are loaded with past state champs and school record holders.
In Class A, the Chamberlain girls welcome back a trio of athletes all expected to land major points for the Cubs. Distance ace Ella Byers is coming off a Class A cross-country state title in the fall and looks to cap her prep career strong, before heading off to run at the University of South Dakota.
“She went through most of the cross-country season competing very little and she still did an amazing job at state of course and she’s had some pretty amazing hurdles to get over in the last couple of years in terms of blood clots, to stress fractures and all of that,” Chamberlain coach Renee Long said. “So we are going to be cautious with her in the early season and we don’t want to work her too hard.”
Avany Long and Mady Handel are also back after strong junior campaigns. Long took third in the long jump and sixth in the 300-meter hurdles at state. Handel will anchor the throwing events for the Chamberlain girls. Both are school record holders for the Cubs.
“We are really excited how the girls team is shaping up,” Long said. “We are hoping that we can have another good season and we’ve been over the last two years winning at regions of an average of about 65 points a year. So we are hoping to do that again.”
Also in Class A girls, Winner’s Sidda Schuyler took fourth in the 3,200-meter run and eighth in the 1,600-meter run last season at state.
Mount Vernon/Plankinton’s Savannah Risseeuw won last year’s Class A state title in the 100-meter hurdles, while she also took fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. McCook Central/Montrose’s Jacy Pulse returns after capturing the 300-meter hurdles at state. MVP’s Katlyn Briggs is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Class A discus last season.
In the Class A boys, Chamberlain junior Nash Hutmacher will man the throwing events for the Cubs. The all-state football player and three-time Class A heavyweight wrestling champ will look to add some throwing titles to his résumé this spring after being unable to throw at state last season.
“He got hurt right before the state track meet last year and so it is always nice to have Nash competing,” Long said. “He’s such a good leader with the young ones, too.”
Drayton Priebe recently won the long jump at the Dakota Wesleyan University indoor meet and Long sees the potential from the sophomore.
“He’s just kind of growing into his long legs and big feet,” Long said. “He’s got amazing jumping ability and of course he’s going to be really doing well in the hurdles, too.”
Long also expects contributions from seniors and multi-sport athletes Max Donovan (sprinter/hurdler) and Collin Powell (distance runner).
“They both placed state this year at wrestling,” Long said. “They do pretty well in any event we can put them in. It’s nice to put them really in any event and we can have success with them. It is great to have senior leadership from Max and Collin.”
Sophomore Hayden Evans will anchor the middle distance races.
“He would be our middle distance runner and I think middle distance might be our speciality this year,” Long said.
The Mount Vernon/Plankinton boys return two sprinters -- junior Jesse Hastings and senior Weston Tobin -- that helped the Titans win the Class A medley relay at state, setting a state-meet record in the process.
In Class B, Freeman won last year’s state boys championship on the strength of three relays. The Flyers will return two of those sprinters in senior Braxton Schmidt and sophomore Collin Helma. Helma took home Class B track MVP honors last season after also capturing the 400-meter dash.
Freeman Academy/Marion’s Thaniel Schroeder took third in the 3,200-meter and 1,600-meter runs last season at state.
Kimball/White Lake’s sophomore Kennedy Leiferman and eighth-graders Dani Deffenbaugh and Christine Gaulke were all part of last season’s state champion Class B sprint medley relay team.
Tripp-Delmont/Armour girls won the 400-meter and 800-meter relays last season, with sophomore Hannah Whitney, junior Kianna Payer and senior Alyssa Whitney all set to return for the Nighthawks.