A year ago in the middle of March it appeared the Chadron State College High School Indoor Track and Field Meet would not take place. A huge snow storm had arrived and the highways were blocked. Everything was at a standstill for a couple of days.
While many other events were cancelled, Chadron State Track Coach Riley Northrup, the meet director, held off pulling the plug on the indoor meet. It was supposed to be weather-proof. And, it survived again.
Crews driving those big orange trucks with blades on the front got the roads cleared and a total of 229 athletes from as far away as Moorcroft, Hill City, Cody-Kilgore and Scottsbluff and Gering participated on Saturday, March 16.
The number of contestants was about half those who had been involved the past few years after what was once two meets were combined into one big meet. It was the 33rd year in a row that the Nelson Physical Activity Center at CSC had hosted at least one high school track and field meet.
But the 34th annual meet scheduled for March 24, 2020 didn’t take place. That’s because of the COVID-19 Pandemic that has played havoc with millions--maybe billions and trillions (a scary word heard often these days)--of events that have been cancelled because of the evil virus.
With no current results to report, please permit a review of the history of this extravaganza that always before provided track and field coaches and athletes the assurance they’d have at least one meet each season that wouldn’t be affected by the weather.
The first meet took place on March 28, 1987, a few months after the long-awaited Activity Center had opened and was named for Dr. Edwin Nelson, who had worked tirelessly to obtain funding for it during many of his 18 years as the college president. It opened the year he retired.
Athletes from six schools from the immediate area participated. With temperatures around 10 degrees and the chill factor well below zero outdoors, everyone was comfortable and cozy.
Besides college staff, Chadron Rotarians did much of the organizing and also received some unexpected help from the Chadron State track team. The Eagles were planning to open their outdoor season in Rapid City that day, but that meet was called off because of the frigid weather.
The Hay Springs boys and the Chadron girls won the team titles.
Led by double winners Lynn Hanks and Allen Terwilliger, the Hay Springs boys scored 141 points, Chadron had 130 and Rushville 108. Hanks won the high hurdles and the high jump while Terwilliger survived a broken pole to win the vault, also captured the triple jump and was second in the shot put.
Todd Baumann swept both the 300- and 440-yard sprints and anchored the winning 640-meter relay for Chadron while Cards’ senior Kail Bowman heaved the shot put 55 feet, 2 ½ inches, a mark that was eventually tied by Chris Hadden of Sidney in 2001, but has never been broken in more than three decades of competition.
It launched a great season for Bowman. He went on to win the Class B shot put at the state meet with a heave of 58-8 that remains the Chadron High record and became a four-time shot put All-American at Chadron State.
The leaders for the Chadron girls’ team at the inaugural Rotary Indoor Meet included a high school state champion and a future CSC All-American, Caryn Martin. Then a sophomore, Martin won the high hurdles and the 300-yard dash. Teammate Missy Clark also was a double winner (60 dash and long jump) and both of then ran on the winning 640-meter relay. Their team scored 122 points and Gordon 106 behind Rozy Bottorff, who swept the 440 and 880 and anchored the winning 1,650-meter relay.
The Chadron boys ran away with the team title in 1988, outscoring Valentine 136-74 for top honors, but the Valentine girls edged the Lady Cardinals 91-89 for first place when the Chadron 640 relay team was disqualified for cutting in front of a Lady Badger following a baton exchange.
The girls’ high jump was a highlight when Carissa Moffat of Oshkosh cleared 5-4 and Barb Beguin of Rushville and Lisa Drabbels of Hay Springs went 5-3 and Lorna Dahlgren of Hay Springs, later a great basketball player for the CSC Eagles, went 5-2. +
The Chadron girls edged Gordon by an 87-83 margin to win the team title at the third meet in 1989 behind four victories by Martin, including an 18-2 ½ long jump that remains the Chadron High record and stood as the CSC High School Meet record until 2010 when Rapid City Central’s Jasmine King posted the third of the meet records she still possesses.
A couple of unique things occurred at the Rotary Meet in 1990.
For one, members of the Dundy County team, apparently confident they were going to have an outstanding year, paid their own way to make the 265-mile trip to Chadron. It paid off. They scored 63 points to edge two South Dakota schools, Hot Springs and Todd County, by a single point for the championship.
The second oddity involved Todd County’s Wayne Stewart in the two-mile run. He ran away from the rest of the field, even lapping the second place runner. But it was determined after the race had ended that he had run 18 laps and should have run 19. To give him an acceptable mark, the average time of his 18 laps was determined and it was added onto his original time. His adjusted time was 10:33.
The 1991 meet had more highlights. For the second year in row, Hot Springs’ Bud Hamilton, built like an NFL tight end, swept all three of the jumps. He went 22-11 ½ in the long jump, 43-9 in the triple jump and 6-10 in the high jump. All three were big improvements over the year before and meet records.
The latter event continued during what was supposed to be the lunch break. When it was announced that both Hamilton and Mark Kersey of Gordon, the defending Class B Nebraska state champion, had cleared 6-6 and were going to keep jumping, few of the fans left the arena.
Kersey didn’t go higher, but Hamilton cleared both 6-8 and 6-10. Hamilton still has the University of Wyoming’s all-time best high jump of 7-1, is third in the long jump at 24-11 ½ and 12th in the triple jump at 48-2 ½.
Hot Springs, coached by the late Dave Scott, had another standout, even though it took her a long time to prove her point. Vailferee Brechtel won the two-mile run at the Rotary Meet six consecutive years, beginning as a 7th grader in 1995. She also won either the 880 or mile at several of the meets and held the records in both the mile and two-mile when she wrapped up her high school career in 2000.
Another “unbeatable” contestant was April Kockrow of Rushville. She won the shot put at four consecutive Rotary Meets and her mark of 43-2 ½ is still the all-time best at CSC High School Meets. She went on to become a three-time Class C State Meet discus champion and was second in the shot twice and the gold medalist as a senior for the Longhorns.
Coached by Gene Robinett, the Gordon girls won five consecutive Rotary Meet titles beginning in 1990 and still possessed both relay records at the end of the decade. Some of the Lady Broncs’ leaders included Angie McGinley, Melanie Paul, Becca Ruse, Nickie Sowell, Kenli Tilley, Rachel Forster and Shannon Kling.
In the early 1990s, the Chadron State track and field program began hosting indoor meets for larger schools, such as those from Rapid City along with Alliance, Gering, Scottsbluff and Sidney on Fridays. The Rotary Meets for smaller schools were on Saturdays.
In 2010 the meets were combined and from then on always took place on Saturdays. Initially there were two divisions, but that was abandoned in 2014 and all the athletes--often at least 500 of them from about 15 schools were placed into one pool. No team scores were calculated after the meets were melded.
Sometimes entries from the big schools won most of the blue ribbons, but not always.
In 2015, Chadron’s Jackson Dickerson was first in both the 55 meters and the long jump and Cody-Kilgore’s Casey Lamle won both the 400 and 800. Led by Jessi Smith’s victory in both the 800 and high hurdles, Bayard girls won five firsts that year.
In addition, Hemingford, coming off its 13-0 season and the Class D-1 football championship, won the 4x1ap relay at the 2015 Chadron State Indoor Meet with a foursome of Brady Turek, Matt Wood, Colt Foster and Ethan Skinner. The previous spring, with Blake Hansen running the second leg, the Bobcats had won the Class C 4x400 relay at the state meet in Omaha.
In 2016, when there were at least 950 total entries, girls from Gering, Scottsbluff and Rapid City Central had two event winners apiece, but those from Hay Springs, Newcastle, Upton, Rapid City Christian and Kimball also won an event.
The star of the boys’ competition in 2017 was Rapid City Central’s Sage Hagen. He edged Brendinh Sayaloune of Chadron in the 55 dash, which had nearly 100 entries, and went 45-3 in the triple jump to improve that record by a foot.
Standouts at last year’s meet included two girls from out-of-state. Hailey Jones of Moorcroft won both the 400 and 800 meters after having won the 800 and 1600 at the Wyoming State Meet the previous spring. In addition, Karlee Simmons of Hill City breezed to victory in both the 1600 and 3200.
Three Chadron girls--Dawn Dunbar (hurdles), True Thorne (shot put) and Olivia Reed (high jump)--won individual events and two of the three relays. The Cards’ Dom Nobiling won the hurdles and Nathan Burch the 3200 in the boys’ action.
Hopefully, the meet will resume next March and there’ll be many more highlights to report.
The CSC High School Indoor Meet records follow:
*55—6.8h, Jasmyne King, Rapid City Central, 2008.
200—25.99, Jasmyne King, Rapid City Central, 2007.
400—1:01.68, Annie Peterka, Scottsbluff, 2000.
800—2:21.70, Sara Ensrud, Gering, 2004.
1600—5:16.89, Sara Ensrud, Gering, 2003.
3200—11:36.0, Morgan Hartman, Scottsbluff, 1999.
55 hurdles—8.53, Blakelee Binning, Torrington, 1996.
4x170 relay—1:29.00, Rapid City Central, 1999.
4x400 relay—4:19.58, Rapid City Central, 2003.
4x800 relay—8:34.15, Rapid City Central, 2001.
Shot put—42-4½, Leeza Henry, Scottsbluff, 2008,
Long jump—18-7, Jasmyne King, Rapid City Central, 2010.
Triple jump—34-6½, Lacy Stevens, Edgemont, 2010.
High jump—5-9, Stephanie Streeks, Gering, 1992, and K. Conner, Gering, 1994.
Pole vault—12-0, Meagan Bauer, Gering, 2004.
55—6.32, Joe Nerud, Scottsbluff, 1994.
200—23.20, Ryan Schwartzkopf, Gering, 2014.
400—51.29, Jake Moss, RCC, 1995.
800—2:04.74, Andrew Carter, Scottsbluff, 1997.
1600—4:32.06, David Stott, Scottsbluff, 1997.
3200—9:55.96, Joel Phipps, Scottsbluff, 1998.
55 hurdles—7.40, Justin Wickard, Scottsbluff, 2001.
4x170 relay—1:18.6, Rapid City Central, 2014.
4x400 relay—3:36.0 Gering (Ryan Schwartzkopf, Dillon DeMott, Caleb Geary, Austin Dolberg), 2014.
4x800 relay—8:20.89, Rapid City Central, 2006.
Shot put—54-11½, Bobby Smith, Custer, 2000.
Long jump—22-8½, Justin Wickard, Scottsbluff, 2000.
Triple jump—45-3, Sage Hagen, Rapid City Central, 2017.
High jump—6-7½, Jeremiah McKnight, RCC, 1996.
Pole vault—14-2, Lucas Rosenbaum, Sidney, 2014.
*Automated time record is 7.14 by Amber Abrams, Rapid City Central, 1999.
Rotary Indoor Meet marks that exceed above records
400—50.81, Joe Beehler, Hot Springs, 2002.
Shot put—55-2½, Kail Bowman, Chadron, 1987, and Chris Hadden, Sidney, 2001.
High jump—6-10, Bud Hamilton, Hot Springs, 1991.
55 hurdles—8.4, Shannon Kling, Gordon, 1996.
400—60.96, Katelyn Moore, Chadron, 2006.
1600 relay—4:17.19, Chadron (Cassie Humphrey, Chelsea DeHaven, Leslie Foral, Katelyn Moore), 2004.
Shot put—43-2¼, April Kockrow, Rushville, 1996.
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