Although the 2015 track and field season has just begun, it doesn’t mean the goal to win Conference isn’t alive and well for the University of South Dakota women’s track and field team.
With two meets under its belt — in Lincoln, Neb. and at South Dakota State — the team is using those competitions and a strong fall season to push forward.
“As soon as we get back from Christmas break, the indoor season starts really fast and ends really fast, so we’ve been working on staying focused and keeping our goals in mind,” said junior pole vaulter Madison Mills. “As a team we’re really focusing on competing at Conference. To do that, each one of us has to do our part and do our best.”
The team is also using a strong cross country season to build off of and run even better times, said junior distance runner Katie Wetzstein.
“All that momentum has carried over for pretty much everyone,” she said. “We’ve been running times that are giant (personal records) for everyone. Usually it takes a couple races to get going, so it’s looking good for the rest of the season.”
With more of an emphasis on scored meets this year than in previous years, the first two meets have gotten off to a good start for the Coyote women, giving them a confidence boost in the beginning of the season.
“We’ve had a lot of (personal records), broken records and winning events,” Mills said. “That’s been really great, and the team is off to a great start. It’s important that we keep that going.”
There’s still work to be done, said head coach Lucky Huber, but he’s still excited to see his team doing well so far.
“We have a few kids that just aren’t quite where they’re ready to go yet, but some of them are,” he said. “Our distance kids are doing really well right now — we just need some time for our field event kids to catch up. Our throwers are also doing well, so it’s off to a good start.”
This weekend the teams will split between two meets at Wayne State and the University of Minnesota — something they aren’t necessarily used to.
“That’s a little bit tricky because you don’t have everyone together like we’d like, but it still gives everybody an opportunity to go and do well at a smaller meet in finals to get ready,” Huber said.
Fortunately, Huber said, each individual is able to get the training and coaching necessary to keep doing well and finish strong.
“We’ve got a really good coaching staff that does a really good job of getting all the individuals ready to go,” he said. “That’s a big part of it. Our kids connect really well with the event coaches, and that really helps them focus and get the attention they need.”
(Photo: University of South Dakota 800-meter runners Rachel Weinandt and Lindsey Montileaux compete at the Holiday Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. Submitted photo / Peter Chapman.)
Sophomore Danielle Waldner threw first place in the shot put at SDSU, breaking the record. Wetzstein won the mile run, with junior Amber Eickhorn placing third in the event. Wetzstein also placed second in the 3,000-meter run. Mills took second in the pole vault, with first-year Shanice Cannigan taking second in the 600-meter run. USD finished second overall.
Wetzstein set a new school record in the mile run at the Lincoln Holiday Invitational, which she then broke the following weekend at SDSU. Eickhorn snagged a win in the 5,000-meter run. First-year Bailey Oettel finished fourth in the 5,000-meter run, while first year Bethany Kozak and junior Kelsey Barrett placed second and third in the 3,000-meter run.
Sophomore Nicole Schmidt placed third in the 1,000-meter run. Junior Kayla Johnson placed second in throwing, while junior Janelle Noga placed second in the unseeded pole vault, and first-year Alexis Clark placed third in the unseeded high jump.
The women’s distance medley — Kozak, Cami Brenner, Schmidt and Wetzstein — placed first, with Mills taking first in pole vault and first-year Hannah Meador finishing second. The women’s 4×400 relay finished third. USD finished second overall.