An unprecedented run of excellence in South Dakota high school track and field history continued Saturday at the 2015 State Track and Field Meet in Rapid City as the Rapid City Stevens girls won their 19th Class AA title, and 17th in the last 20 years.
The win didn’t come on the backs of a few individuals — the Raiders had just one winning performance at O’Harra Stadium on Saturday, a victory by eighth-grader Elizabeth Schaefer in the 300-meter hurdles — but the narrow win over Brandon Valley (105.50-103.00) came in typical Raider fashion, as Stevens garnered points with solid performances up and down the lineup.
Sioux Falls Lincoln (80) took third place, followed by Rapid City Central (70.5) and Yankton (65).
“Elizabeth’s performance was big for us, and otherwise we just did enough to get it done,” Stevens coach Paul Hendry said. “Brandon Valley had a very good team and Rapid City Central made a run today with their sprinters and relay teams ... we got points in most events and didn’t have anything really disastrous happen, and the little things that did go wrong we were able to pick it up somewhere else.”
Sioux Falls Washington (129.5), capitalizing on wins in three relays— 4-by-100, 4-by-200, and 4-by-400 — claimed the Class AA boys crown over Sioux Falls Lincoln (102), with Rapid City Stevens and Spearfish sharing the third spot with 64 points apiece.
For Stevens, the third-place finish in the boys chase — earned by virtue of nipping Spearfish for third in the 4-by-400 relay, the last event of the day — earned the Raiders the Class AA combined team title.
A Rapid City Central girls relay team competing together for the very first time spurred the Cobblers move up the leaderboard, as senior Alaina Klapperich teamed with eighth-grader Hannah Young, sophomore Maddison Sullivan, and junior Kelsie Jeffries to win both the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relays.
“Yesterday was the first time all of us have run as a relay team and we ran two seconds faster than any other time this year, and ran even faster than yesterday,” Klapperich said.
To top off a spectacular day, Klapperich earned a third gold medal in the 100-meter dash in a time of 12.04.
“There were were a lot of good girls with similar times, so it could have gone any way,” Klapperich said. “Fortunately that was the best start I’ve ever had, and I was in front of people and they were chasing me rather than me chasing them.”
Klapperich wasn’t the only Cobbler with an outstanding performance on Saturday. Senior hurdler Talon Maxon not only defended this 110-meter hurdles crown but did so in a meet record 14.15 seconds to win in convincing fashion.
“I just tried to really focus over the hurdles and keep my balance and run my hardest, and if I did that I figured that good things would happen,” Maxon said. “I knew I had to get out quick because those guys have some long arms and you can’t be getting beat up.”
A couple of other Black Hills track and field athletes had big days as well.
Damian Hall of Spearfish duplicated a 100/200 double at the Howard Wood Relays by taking home gold medals in both events on Saturday, winning the 100 in 10.77 seconds despite coming into the final with the third best time in the event. Hall then followed up by breaking the tape with a 21.77-second clocking in the 200, joining teammate Jaxon Hinch (high jump, 6-4) as an individual winner.
The day's, and weekend's, best individual performance was turned in by Jacob Simmons of Sturgis, as the senior followed up a state meet record in the 800 on Friday with two victories on Saturday. He won the 1,600 and followed up moments later with a come-fromfbehind anchor leg in the sprint medley to catapult the Scoopers to victory.
The 1,600-meter final was one of the more anticipated events on Saturday’s docket as it matched Simmons and Sioux Falls Lincoln’s Will Lauer, who had set a meet record in the 3,200 meters Friday.
In a classic matchup of an outstanding distance runner pitted against a standout middle-distance runner, Simmons, after following Lauer for nearly three laps, took control with 300 meters remaining to break the tape in a time of 4:17.95.
“I think we were both shooting for a little bit quicker time, but it was just so windy on the backstretch that it was hard to keep an honest pace,” Simmons said. “I just knew that Will is a super-strong runner, and I felt that I have a little more leg speed, and so maybe if I put down the hammer a little bit I would be able to gap him.”
Equally impressive was Simmons’ anchor leg in the sprint medley as he closed out his prep career by passing seven runners on his way to the tape.
“I just wanted to go out by giving it everything I had, and it just came together for me and was a great way to finish,” Simmons said.
Simmons' efforts earned him the boys track MVP while Rapid City Central’s Josh Dotson was selected as the field MVP off his record-setting 47-3 triple jump on Friday. On the girls' side, Yankton’s Emma Stewart was chosen as the field MVP while Sioux Falls Lincoln eighth-grader Jasmyne Cooper, with wins in the 800 and 1,600, earned the track MVP award.
Other Saturday event winners in girls events included Haley Bruggeman of Harrisburg (100 hurdles, 14.82); Krista Bickley of Brandon Valley in the 400 (57.21) and 200 (25.07); Carly Haring of Mitchell (high jump, 5-03.25) and relay winners Sioux Falls Lincoln (sprint medley, 4:18.23) and Brandon Valley (4-by-400 relay, 4:04.76).
Additional winners in the boys events were Sioux Falls Lincoln’s Ned Sudbeck (400 meters, 50.58); and Mayuen Akok of Sioux Falls Roosevelt (300-meter hurdles, 39.72).