It's no secret that Rapid City Central's Kailleb Walton-Blanden can jump. The all-state first team basketball player threw down exciting dunks all year on his way to leading the Cobblers to a fourth-place finish at the state tournament last month.
Tuesday in Spearfish, he showed he's not just a great athlete on the basketball court.
Walton-Blanden won the long jump at the Queen City Invitational at Black Hills State University, with a jump of 22 feet. What was more impressive is this is the first time he's attempted the long jump since, "maybe eighth grade."
"It’s my senior year and I thought it would help me with basketball, so that’s why I decided to do it," he said.
Preparing for his first long jump hasn't been easy, especially with the weather not cooperating. The Cobblers were able to participate in the Rapid City Developmental Meet at Sioux Park on March 23, but Walton-Blanden had just gotten back from the Class AA state basketball tournament in Sioux Falls and was unable to participate.
Since then, he hasn't been able to jump into a pit, and has been confined to workouts in the gym and working on technique.
It didn't seem to matter Tuesday, although he admitted there is still work to do.
"The first landing was rough, but once I get the landings down, I think it’ll be good," he said laughing. "It’s hard because this is the first time I’ve ever long jumped, so getting technique down is really hard."
Helping him on that end has been Sage Hagen, a fellow Cobbler senior who won the state title last year in the triple jump.
"He’s been helping me with my landings, and he’s one of my best friends so he’s there sending me video and showing me how to land," Walton-Blanden said. "Getting your legs out, being able to bend your knees, and get your butt to where your feet were at is hard."
The sport is so new to Walton-Blanden that he said he came into Tuesday and the entire season with no expectations. His goals for the season are fairly modest, considering he had one of the top marks in the state in his first attempt.
"I was asking, ‘Do you think I’ll get 20 (feet)? Do you think I’ll get 21 (feet)?’ I had no clue what I was going to get," he said. "I want to improve, I’d like to win state, that’d be nice."
Central is next in action when it hosts the Rapid City Track O' Rama Thursday.
Sturgis' Ashlyn Simons is also a senior, but has more jumping experience than Walton-Blanden.
She won the girls' high jump Tuesday by clearing five feet, and finished seventh at the Class AA state meet last season by clearing 5-2.
Simons also has higher aspirations for her senior season.
"My goal is to clear 5-6 because that would beat the school record by ¾ of an inch; that’s my ultimate goal," Simons said. "I think this meet felt better than the last one, I felt more precise and into it."
She said her personal best is 5-3, and like all athletes, the weather has made preparing for the season difficult. Tuesday marked the third time all season Simons has actually jumped, in practice or a meet.
Still, she's confident that as the weather warms up she can make the adjustments she needs to.
"Some adjusting to my mark might get me there," she said. "I feel like I lose my technique over winter, before our first track meet, I hadn’t jumped since state."
Sturgis will also be at Track O' Rama at O'Harra Stadium.
Here are the boys' winners from Tuesday:
100 meters: Christopher Koester, Bismarck Century, 11.34; 200: Donovan Hoffman, Gillette Thunder Basin, 23.08; 400: Tavian Ashurst, Spearfish, 52.00; 800: Ethan Brenneman, Sturgis, 1:59.63; 1,600: Brady Yoder, Dickinson, 4:43.22; 3,200: Evan Slayer, Bismarck Century, 9:43.40; 110 hurdles: Connor Dennis, Watford City, 15.34; 300 hurdles: Connor Dennis, Watford City, 41.25.
Relays: 4x100 relay: Bismarck Century, 44.13; 4x200 relay: St. Thomas More, 1:32.09; 4x400 relay: Sheridan, 3:27.99; 4x800 relay: Bismarck Century 8:52.78; sprint medley relay: Bismarck Century, 3:45.05.
Field events: Shot put: Maxwel Myers, Sheridan, 54-00; discus: Levi Rockey, Bismarck Century, 164-02; high jump: Dylan Hay, Rapid City Central, 6-04; pole vault: Jake Person, Rapid City Stevens, 13-3; triple jump: Jacob Svihovec, Bowman County, 42-7.
Here are the girls winners:
100 meters: Kelly Moodry, Sheridan, 12.71; 200: Shayla Howell, Belle Fourche, 26.20; 400: Howell, Belle Fourche, 57.35; 800: Tori Glazier, Custer, 2:17.99; 1,600: Hailey Jones, Moorcroft, 5:23.02; 3,200: Trinity Preston, Sheridan, 11:49.77; 100 hurdles: Elizabeth Schaefer, Rapid City Stevens, 15.46; 300 hurdles: Schaefer, Rapid City Stevens, 47.06.
Relays: 4x100 relay: Spearfish, 51.57; 4x200 relay: Bismarck Century, 1:48.96; 4x400 relay: St. Thomas More, 4:04.75; 4x800 relay: Bismarck Century, 9:55.90; sprint medley relay: Newell, 4:38.45.
Field events: shot put: Marcradee Miller, Gillette Thunder Baisn, 38-3; discus: Dana Youngberg, Newell, 108-08; pole vault: Kealy Hill, Gillette Thunder Basin, 12-1; long jump: Howell, Belle Fourche, 18-1; triple jump: Howell, Belle Fourche, 35-3.5.