It was probably not a very well-kept secret that the St. Thomas More track teams were going to run away from the field this weekend at the Class A State Track and Field Championships.

Both were favorites and both won easily, as the Cavalier boys finished with 121.5 points, well ahead of second-place West Central at 60.5. The STM girls, despite a bit of a slow start on Friday, performed at peak form on Saturday at O’Harra Stadium, finishing with 108 points, well ahead of second-place Madison’s 69.5833.

“I knew the boys were stronger point-wise than the girls’ team,” Cavalier head coach Scott Benson said. “But I didn’t necessarily need anybody else to know that. I kind of like playing down that, putting a little pressure on the kids so they respond to it.”

Still, the Cavaliers, in both divisions, followed script and showed strength in the individual events, as well as in the relays. Basically, most everything went as planned.

“We had a couple of things not go so well (Friday), but other kids stepped up in other areas and got the points back,” Benson said. “It finished about what it looked like on paper.”

The St. Thomas More boys showed their depth Saturday by scoring in all but one event, winning one individual event, the 1,600-meter run by sophomore Luke Julian, and taking wins in the 4-by-100 and 4-by 200 relays.

Julian came away with three wins in the meet, the 800-meter run on Friday, the 4-by-800 relay on Friday and Saturday’s 1,600. It was his fourth-place finish in the 3,200 on Friday that lit a fire under him for Saturday.

“My favorite event since I was a seventh-grader has been the 3,200,” Julian said. “I always wanted to win that. It really got me down, but it gave me extra motivation, to prove to myself today that I could be up there.”

Julian took control in the third of the four laps and pulled away for the win in 4:29.25, with Rawson Yost of Clark/Willow Lake in second at 4:30.83.

“I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen with that first lap. It was really surprising to see him go out in 60 seconds; he did that last year. I thought he was going to hang back a little bit more,” Julian said. “My goal was to just stay relaxed, don’t let the pace get to me and try to work my way back up to it.”

The STM 4-by-100 relay team of Payton Oxner, Giles McGillick, Jake Aanderud and Alex Klapperich came out on top in 44.54 seconds, while the 4-by-200 team of Oxner, McGillick, P.J. Freidel and Aanderud won in 1:31.30.

For McGillick, it was the third straight year he was a member of the winning 800-meter relay team.

“It started off in my sophomore year, so it has been a good run. I’ve been with some strong runners all of the way through,” McGillick said. “This year we especially had some tough runners, especially the underclassmen, the sophomores."

McGillick was also third in the 200-meter dash (22.60) and seventh in the 100 (11.26). Also for the Cavs, Aanderud was second in the 100 (11.01) and fifth in the 200 (22.78), Oxner was fourth in the 100 (11.15) and Freidel was eighth in the 200 (23.73) and eighth in the 400 (54.34).

Evan Henderson placed fourth in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.42) and third in the 300 hurdles (40.79), with Klapperich second in the 300 (40.79). Lincoln Feist was also third in the shot put at 50 feet, 5 ¾ inches, with Andrew Montoya eighth at 48-0 1/2. The STM 4-by-400 relay team of Ty Trainor, Henderson, Thomas Rafferty and Klapperich was third in 3:32.40.

“I’m very, very proud of the boys,” Benson said. “The year before I took over, they took one or two kids to state. Now here we are four years later with a pretty strong contingent.”

The St. Thomas More girls were just seventh going into Saturday’s action, but there was little worry as the Cavs were built to score points on Saturday. They did just that, led by individual wins from Shannon Duffy and Delaney Carlson.

Duffy won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.81 seconds, with teammate Avery White in second place at 15.34.

“I thought it was nice to have a little bit of wind with us, but I thought that if I came out with a good start, I could run a fast time,” said Duffy, who was also fifth in the 300 hurdles in 46.92. 

Duffy was among the leaders in the state all season in the 100, if not the leader. She said there were a lot of expectations coming into Saturday.

“Last year I did pretty well, so there was a little bit of pressure,” she said. “But I have worked so hard for this. I knew I could do it.”

Carlson could have easily won two events on Saturday, but was edged at the finish line by Mara VanDeBerg of Garretson in the 100. Both ran a 12.59. Carlson came back to take the 200 in 25.67.

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“I think that getting nipped in the 100 made me want the 200 that much more,” Carlson said. “Before, I wasn’t really thinking about the 200. I was more focused on the 100. Losing that one, I put everything I had in the last 200.”

Carlson was also a member of the winning 4-by-100 relay team, along with sister Bailey Carlson, Carolyn Eckrich and White, in 50.13. The two Carlsons, Duffy and White won the 4-by-200 relay in 1:46.09.

“Relays or open events, they all feel amazing,” Carlson said. “The open 200 is like the best feeling; it makes me want to cry because of how hard we worked for it. The 100 crushed me, so I just wanted the 200 so bad.”

Also for the STM girls, Bailey Carlson was fourth in the 100 (12.80) and seventh in the 200 (26.69), Dru Gylten was fifth in the 200 (26.33) and fourth in the 400 (1:00.65), White was fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.42) and the 4-by-400 relay team of Gylten, Ciara Duffy, Kassidy Kirsch and Klaire Kirsch placed fifth in 4:12.67.

Custer’s Tori Glazier picked up on Saturday where she left off Friday, winning the 1,600-meter run and was part of the winning sprint medley relay team, giving her four state titles in the meet. She helped the Wildcat girls to a strong third-place finish with 53 points.

Not only did Glazier get four wins, none were really that close. She pulled away on the third lap in the 1,600 and won in 5:09.76. It was her second career 1,600 title as she also won as a seventh-grader.

“I was really happy because I didn’t get to run it last year,” Glazier said. “It was my chance to make up for it this year.”

It was more of the same in the sprint medley relay, as she ran the anchor leg. The Wildcats won easily in 4:13.23, setting a state meet record. Also running the relay for Custer was Billie Wicks, Julianne Thomsen and Tayler Carlson. Teammates Sydney Snyder and Morgan Parys also ran the relay in Friday’s preliminaries.

Other individual winners in the girls’ division were Jacy Pulse in the 400 (59.03), Morgan Rothschadl of Bon Homme in the 300 hurdles (44.94) and Mackenzie Huber of Clark/Willow Lake in the shot put (41-7 ¼).

Other area placers on Saturday were Shayla Howell of Belle Fourche, second in the 400 (59.12), sixth in the 200 (26.38) and sixth in the 100 (12.86); Parys of Custer, sixth in the 1,600 (5:21.69); Thomsen of Custer, third in the 100 hurdles (15.52) and Jenni Qualm of Hill City, sixth in the shot put (36-5 ¼).

Landon Larson of Groton Area came away with three wins in the boys’ division on Saturday, capturing the 100 (10.89), the 200 (22.33) and the 400 (50.26). Wes Dvorak of Ethan/Parkston also won two events, the 100 hurdles (14.54) and the 300 hurdles (38.70). Tyson Jenkins of Clark/Willow Lake won the shot put at 55-4 ½.

Other area boys’ placers on Saturday were Nathan Galbraith of Winner, third in the 400 (51.93); Chance Dooley of Custer, fifth in the 1,600 (4:38.09); Jordan Poignee of Todd County, fifth in the 300 hurdles (41.36) and Tyrel Haley of Winner, eighth in the 300 hurdles (43.16).

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