O'Harra Stadium on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus will host the 2019 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Track and Field Championships today through Sunday.

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is one of the top NCAA Division II track and field conferences in the nation.

For the second time in four years, the RMAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships are coming to the Black Hills. Black Hills State University hosted the meet in 2016 and Friday through Sunday, some of the top track athletes in the country will be at O'Harra Stadium for the 2019 championships, hosted by South Dakota School of Mines.

Mines head coach Steve Johnson said they are excited to host the RMAC this weekend and are looking forward to some of the best track and field in the country.

"We're expecting to see a number of stadium records change hands this weekend," he said.

The multi events kick off on Friday with women's heptathlon at 11 a.m. The men's decathlon will follow at 11:25 a.m. On Saturday, the men's javelin begins day two at 8:30 a.m. Action on the track begins at 11:05 a.m. with the 4x100m relay prelims.

On the third and final day of the championships, women's javelin will be thrown at 8:30 a.m., while track events start at 12:30 p.m.

Johnson said both teams have been working towards this weekend for a long time.

"On the men's side, Wes Siebdrath is well positioned in the men's hammer. We will also get to see Jonathon Murray and Kevin Ptak take on a very crowded 400-meter field," he said. "Andy Ferris will be taking on three men ranked in the top-30 nationally in the men's 800. Casey Skillingstad also has a good opportunity to score in the men's pole vault. Our 4x400 is going to get one last shot at a school record to close out the meet on Sunday.

"For the women, Erica Keeble will compete in a stacked women's pole vault competition. Erica Westerman has had a terrific senior campaign in the 800 and will get one more shot to lower her school record. Adeline Straatmeyer is also well positioned in the 5k. All three of these women are in fields that feature multiple national qualifiers."

"The winds look to present a challenge this weekend, particularly in the vault and the distance races, but we'll still see some pretty impressive performances this weekend," Johnson said.

Nationally, Black Hills State University enters the weekend with multiple athletes on the national lists having hit provisionally qualifying marks or times.

Senior Jonah Theisen's steeple chase time is eighth in the nation and third in the conference after running close to nine minutes flat a week ago. Junior Tristan Hepp is 19th in the 400 hurdles and enters conference second in that event. Sophomore Allan McDonnell of Wall is tied for 21st in the nation and enters the RMAC meet with the number one mark.

In the pole vault, freshman Hannah Hendrick in 36th, while sophomores Whitney Scott and Jordyn Huneke are tied for 42nd. Those marks translate to fourth and fifth in the conference.

"Conference championships are always special," said BHSU coach Seth Mischke. "The energy levels and excitement are off the charts. We are looking forward to compete against some of the best schools in the nation."

Senior Ryan Olsen will be the only multi athlete competing for BHSU on Friday. He enters the decathlon ranked fifth.

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Bursting onto the scene in the javelin in his collegiate track and field debut last week was junior Makaleb McInnis. His javelin throw is 25th in the nation and leads the RMAC.

Freshman Kyla Sawvell from Wall will be the field athlete to watch heading into the conference meet. Sawvell is on the list in two events and is 40th in the discus and 44th in the shot put. At the conference level she is second in both the hammer throw and discus and first in the shot. She has the potential to take the triple crown.

The Chadron State College track and field team will take 11 men and 11 women to Rapid City for the championships. 

Sophomore men's long jumper Isaac Grimes, who still ranks No. 1 in NCAA Division II with his mark of 7.80 meters (25-7 ¼) leads a trio of jumpers into the meet. Joining him is junior Javan Lanier, who is third in the conference.

In the 100 meters, with the fourth-fastest time this season, is freshman Brodie Roden, who has clocked 10.75 seconds this year. Roden will compete in both short sprints, ranking eighth in the 200 meters as well.

Freshman Brock Voth, who won the triple jump at the 2019 RMAC indoor meet, is back for the outdoor event as the sixth-best entry.

Pacing the Eagles on the women's side will be Alyse Henry. She has one of the top times in the conference this season in the 3,200 at 11:08.74, good for sixth in the league. Henry will also compete in the 5,000 meters.

Another senior, Michelle Carbajal, is primed for a big finale in the triple jump, an event in which she finished runner-up at the 2017 indoor meet, as a sophomore, and has four career all-conference certificates. She ranks sixth at the 2019 meet with a jump of 11.55 meters (37-10 ¾).

Ptak earns Oudoor Summit Award

Ptak, the South Dakota School of Mines junior mid-distance runner, has been named the 2019 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Summit Award for the second consecutive year, announced by the league office Thursday.

Ptak was also the Summit Award winner for the indoor season back at the end of February.

This award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average (GPA), participating at the finals sites for each of the RMAC championships. All GPAs are based on a straight grading scale to ensure consistency among institutions. Any tie is broken by the number of credits completed.

To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must be a sophomore or above, who participated in their sport for at least two years with their school. They must also be an active member of the team, traveling and competing at the championship.

From Allen, Texas, he has a 4.00 GPA majoring in electrical engineering. At the RMAC Outdoor Championships, he will compete in the 400-meter dash along with the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

“Kevin is one of the hardest working scholar-athletes I've had the pleasure to be around,” said Johnson. “He takes his academics and athletics very seriously. We're very proud of him and the way he represents Hardrocker athletics.”

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.