The Coyotes men’s and women’s track and field teams saw a weekend of success at the Sioux City Relays.
Hosted at Olsen Stadium on the Morningside College campus, USD brought home two team and 15 individual titles from the two-day event April 11-12.
Head women’s coach Lucky Huber said the athletes took advantage of the warm weather and gave some good performances.
“Especially for this early in the year, everyone looked good,” Huber said. “Everyone stepped up.”
The women placed first, second and third in the shot put with the help of first-year Danielle Waldner, who placed first with a Summit League best toss of 47-5.25. Senior Breanna Janovy and sophomore Kayla Johnson finished second and third, respectively.
Sophomores Katie Wetzstein and Amber Eichkorn finished first and second in the 1,500-meter run. With her time of 4:33.71, Wetzstein set a meet record.
Wetzstein said she knew if she got out fast she would get a good time.
“I took the lead and pushed the pace and my teammate Amber and I both got pretty good times,” she said.
Wetzstein will compete in the 1,500-meter run again in her next few meets.
“I knocked about five seconds off my time so now I can go into these next few meets knowing I have the speed to go against other competitors,” she said.
Head men’s coach Dave Gottsleben said the weather and atmosphere played a role in last weekend’s success.
“Overall it was a phenomenal meet,” Gottsleben said. “We had more than 10 athletes win events.”
Gottsleben said the men’s relay team, which included juniors Jeff O’Connell and Erik Hill and sophomores Teivaskie Lewin and Christian Nielsen, performed particularly well at the meet. The 400-meter relay team turned in a 40.96 at the prelims Friday and won Saturday’s final with a time of 41.11.
The men’s coach said he specifically admired the work put in by O’Connell, who also won the long jump with a distance of 24-5.75.
“(O’Connell) was awarded Athlete of the Week last week,” Gottsleben said. “Honestly I think he earned it again this week.”
Also on the men’s side, junior Kyle McKelvey broke a 16-year record in the shot put with a throw of 60-4.5. His mark is 25th best in the nation.
Sophomore Peter Chapman and senior Kyle Ballew came out with a Summit-best score of 16-6.75 in the pole vault. Chapman and Ballew were two of four Coyotes who placed in the top five of the competition.
Ballew said his score was an average for him this season.
“Overall, the progress I’ve made each week is slowly coming together piece by piece,” he said.
Ballew said he’s looking for a consistency factor to help him clear bars he hasn’t yet.
“There are things I can do at lower bars and I can clear them easily. I feel comfortable with my grip and my run,” he said. “Once the bar gets higher, I tend to fall apart a little bit. Once that consistency clicks and is in the right spot, that comfort level is going to come back.”
The teams will compete in the Mt. Sac Relays in Walnut, Calif., April 17-18 before returning to South Dakota to participate in the Mount Marty Relays April 22.
Ballew, who is originally from California, said he is ready to compete in this weekend’s competition.
“It’s kind of a homecoming for me because I competed there in high school and junior college, but this time I’m coming back in a South Dakota uniform,” he said.
Huber said the wins from the Sioux City Relays will give the team confidence heading into the next part of the season.
“It’s a nice boost as we get ready for California this weekend and the Drake Relays after that,” he said. “We have far bigger meets than last weekend, but it really helped us prepare for those.”
Photo/Photo Gallery: (Emily Niebrugge/The Volante)