This week's snowy blast might indicate otherwise, but Spring and the 2019 South Dakota high school track and field season are rapidly approaching.
Newell High School returns the majority of its team members from last year. Although the Irrigators lost only one senior to graduation, the loss of Delaney Leber was huge. Leber won the State Class B 400-meter dash, 800-meter run and 1,600-meter run and ran a leg on the runner-up 4-by-800-meter relay. She tallied 38 of the team's 47 points in their third-place team performance. Leber is currently on the cross country and track & field teams at Augustana University.
Returning girls letterwinners for the 'Gators are seniors Dana Youngberg and Aryann Hoffer; junior Austin Alexander; sophomores Kayden Steele, Lexa Burtzlaff and Kyla Emmert; ninth-grader Sydnee Kjellsen and eighth-graders Rachael Banks and Stacy Mahaffy.
Youngberg and Alexander have competed in four state meets. Steele, Burtzlaff and Hoffer are each three-time state qualifiers. Banks and Mahaffy were state entrants once.
"The girls team will be led by senior Dana Youngberg," said Newell coach Kyle Sanderson. Youngberg is the Region 8B defending champion in the shot put and discus.
Alexander recorded a fifth-place finish in last spring's State B triple jump. Alexander, Burtzlaff and Steele were runners on the second-place 4-by-800-meter foursome. Alexander will also compete in the 400 and 800.
Steele will run in the 800 and 1,600. Burtzlaff will demonstrate her skills in the 400, 800 and triple jump.
Hoffer and Banks are entered in the 100, 200 and relays. Mahaffy races in the 800 and 1,600. Kjellsen is a 200, 400 and relays competitor. Emmert is a 400 and high jump athlete.
Lemmon will host both the Little Moreau Conference and Region 8B meets this season.
"I think our girls should be conference and Region favorites," said Sanderson.
Newell returning boys lettermen include: seniors Payton Burtzlaff; Brock Kjellsen and Ben Parrow; sophomore Nathaniel Kirby. Burtzlaff, Kjellsen and Parrow are three-time state meet qualifiers. Kirby is a two-time state entrant.
Burtzlaff's events include the 200, 400, long jump and relays. Kjellsen runs in the 100, 200, 400 and relays. Parrow is an 800, 1,600 and relays trackster. Kirby competes in the 800, triple jump and relays.
Sophomores David Morell and Josh Stomprud are promising prospects in the shot put and discus.
Sanderson listed Lemmon and Timber Lake as the boys LMC and Region favorites.
Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls is the host site for the State B meet on May 24-25.
"Our girls are hoping to build off last year's finish at State," said Sanderson. "We're hoping for a top six finish (team standings). "In the boys division, we're hoping to get some relay teams and several individuals qualified for State."
Newell opens the season at the Douglas Early Bird meet March 30.