The weather was not ideal for track and field competition Friday with the Black Hills Conference championships at Patriot Stadium in Box Elder.
It was cool, breezy and wet at times. Actually, it was real wet at times.
But it proved to be a pretty good day for a lot of the athletes, some of who were seeking to qualify for the state meet and some who were just trying to fine tune their best events.
For all that competed, the BHC meet is a chance to become conference champions.
No official results were made available by the Journal’s press time Friday night.
Sturgis freshman Makayla Keffeler, on her last attempt in the triple jump, earned that conference title. She jumped 35 feet, 11 inches, about eight inches better than her previous best.
“I just really got mentally prepared for it, so that helped a lot,” Keffeler said.
Not only was winning a conference title exciting for Keffeler, but having two other teammates — Loralee Stock and Brinley Pickett — place was even better.
“Three of us from Sturgis were in the finals, so we all placed. It was really exciting,” Keffeler said.
Keffeler said it has been a fun season for her, and she hopes to top it off at the state meet with some even better results.
“If I jump again like I did today, hopefully I will be able to place pretty good at state,” said Keffeler, who was also third in the long jump on Friday. “That’s my main goal.”
St. Thomas More junior Jens Christensen not only won a conference title, but he set a meet record with a pole vault of 13-8. It wasn’t his best-ever vault (14-0), but he was pleased with the results.
“I saw that it was 13-7, and I had already made 13-6 today, so I was like, ‘put it up two inches,’” Christensen said.
Christensen said he feels pretty good at this point of the season as he has made several improvements. He's got a couple more he wants to make before the season ends.
“I’m hoping for 14-10 at state. There is a big pole that I am trying to get now that can put me up quite a bit,” he said. “Basically it is stiffer and if you bend the stiffer poles, it is usually up higher.”
To achieve his goal height, Christensen said it will take a lot of focus over the next two weeks.
“I also need to work on technique later on,” he said
As is the case in just about any athletic event, warming up is a good idea, to say the least.
When the weather is cold, it is really a good idea. Trevor Severson warmed up well before the 4X100 relay and he said it paid off down the stretch.
He just caught St. Thomas More’s Jake Bohnenkamp at the finish line to give the Douglas Patriots the relay victory.
“I was looking to, but I didn’t think I was going to catch him,” he said. “That guy was a good runner. I’m just so excited.”
In the 4X100, handoffs are beyond critical. Severson said that is a plus for his relay team that also includes Derrien Popovich, Austin Hughes and Chance Sorenson.
“We had good handoffs throughout. Our first and second runner had a good handoff, second and third and third and fourth. Those handoffs are what got us in the race,” Severson said.
While the Patriots have some ground to make up, Severson said they are shooting for a top-two finish at the state meet,
“I’m hoping for first or second at state, but we have a lot of work to do. A lot of lifting and explosion work, so we can get faster, and get our handoffs down to perfection. From now on, we’re going to start working on that,” Severson said.
Spearfish’s Tavian Ashurst said his 400 went smooth, and he ran smooth. It all worked out as he won the race at about 50.8 seconds.
“I just took off and ran my race; I tried to run my pace,” Ashurst said. “I like to get about 23 (seconds) on my first 200, then I try to go as fast as I can on the last half.”
His time wasn’t his personal record, but it was the best of the season, which has Ashurst optimistic for a strong finish in two weeks at the state meet.
“(My season) has been a little rough due to weather and not being able to run a lot,” Ashurst said. “My times are finally starting to go down.”
He wants to get in the 49-second range, which could enable him to challenge at state.
“I need a little nicer weather, and to pick it up a bit on the last corner, the last 100,” Ashurst said.
With all of the difficulties of Friday’s weather, that last corner on the Patriot Stadium track was an actual boost for Sydney Shaw of Sturgis in the 300-meter girls’ hurdles.
The wind had her back.
“The wind was a little strong at the first 100, but it really helped you along the homestretch because it pushed you along a little bit,” Shaw said.
As was the case earlier this week at the Rapid City Qualifier, Shaw just held off Jordyn Tolliver of Douglas as she was a step ahead over the last hurdle. It’s been a pretty good rivalry this season for both runners.
“Jordynn Tolliver has been pushing me the whole season. She’s just a really good competitor for me because we’re pretty even and stuff,” Shaw said. “We just push each other all of the time.”
Shaw said it is her goal to run a 47 (seconds) at state because she has been in the 48s for much of the season.
“At practice, I just have to push myself even harder,” she said.
The Class A tracksters will compete in the Region 4 meet Thursday in Belle Fourche, while the AA teams will compete in the last Chance Meet Tuesday in Sturgis.