Newell High School girls track and field and cross country teams have enjoyed success in recent years, and one of the key factors for the Irrigators is senior Delaney Leber.
Leber is entering her sixth year as a member of the track and field team. She has competed in the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200 and relays.
"I began track as a sprinter," said Leber. "I came out for cross country and became a distance runner."
She has qualified for the State B track meet all six years of her prep career. Leber, as a seventh grader, ran a leg on the Irrigators' 4-by-800-meter relay team, which collected eighth place at State.
In 2015, Leber captured fourth place in the 200 and was a member of the eighth-place 4-by-200-meter relay.
During her sophomore year, she finished fourth in the 400, sixth in the 1,600, eighth in the 800 and competed in the 200.
Leber was the Class B champion in the 800 and 1,600 and runner-up in the 400 and 4-by-800-meter relay last year. Newell tied for fifth place, the team's best-ever finish.
Newell fielded several talented distance runners and formed a cross country team in 2014.
Leber won the Little Moreau Conference title, finished second at Region and eighth at state, leading Newell to third place in the team standings in 2015.
The 'Gators moved up to second place in the State B standings in 2016. Leber swept LMC and Region titles, fifth at State and earned runner-up honors in the team standings.
This last fall, Newell claimed its first-ever State B girls cross country title. Leber was a major influence during the season, winning the LMC, Region and State B races.
"Delaney loves coming into big meets," said coach Kyle Sanderson, a former runner at Dakota State University. "She rises up to the challenge. She is versatile."
"One of her biggest traits is her competitiveness. She always wants to improve on her run. She is a great leader both vocally and action-wise, physically and mentally. Delaney has done a great job leading the younger runners, and helps all the way down to middle school runners.
"Coaches are always hoping to get an athlete like Delaney. They don't come around every year."
Both Sanderson and Leber agreed the 800 is her strongest event in track. "You work hard and get to see who works hard in practice," said Leber. “You compete against people and make new friends."
Leber holds school records in the 400, 800, 1,600 and medley relay.
She visited University of South Dakota and Augustana University. She chose to run cross country and track at Augustana because she felt it was a better fit for her. She is unsure of her major, although studies of physical therapy are a possibility.
Newell competes in the LMC meet Friday at Lemmon. The Irrigators return to Lemmon for the Region 8B meet May 17. Local fans will have a chance to see Leber compete at the State B meet in Rapid City May 25-26.
Leber has high goals for State. "I want to win the 400, 800 and 1,600 and get the Most Valuable Track Athlete award," she said.
Leber has left a lasting mark on the track and field and cross country program at NHS. "Delaney has put us in good position to succeed in the future after she graduates," said Sanderson.