The USD men’s track and field squad is ranked No. 25 in the nation by Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association for the second week in a row.
The men’s team has already had a successful bout of outdoor season meets, after coming off a successful indoor season. The team participated in the Texas Relays, Bobcat Invite and Wildcat Classic before hosting the USD Early Bird April 3 at the Lillibridge Track Complex.
At the USD Early Bird, the Yotes’ posted seven new marks that rank top-50 in the nation on the men’s side.
In pole vault senior Ethan Bray soared to an outdoor best of 18-4 ¾ for the sixth-best height in the country this spring. Following behind him fellow Coyotes senior Kaleb Ellis and redshirt freshman Marshall Faurot vaulted outdoor bests of 17-1 moving to 30th in the country.
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“[Coach] Derek [Miles] has built a program with so much depth that we’ve been able to acquire that title so we go in, trying to do our best, and hopefully, we can maintain that reputation because when the world talks about the best vault squad that’s us,” Ellis said. “So, it’s kind of cool to have that but it’s definitely earned every single meet that we have so we just try and keep that going.”
24-year-old Ellis is the oldest on the entire team but uses his experience to guide the newcomers.
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“I get to see all the new people coming in and kind of like mess-ups that I’ve made throughout the years and that I’ve had to learn from I’m trying to give my two cents to them, to give them like more of an advantage than what I had,” Ellis said.
Ellis aims to jump close to 18 feet and retire as an All-American, he said.
The men’s 4×100 meter relays saw a new facility record Saturday. The squad of Virgil Steward, Demar Francis, Ardell Inlay and Dylan Kautz clocked in at 40.24 for 26 in the nation.
In men’s high jump redshirt sophomore, Jack Durst sits at 37 nationally with a height of 6-11. If he improves to his best indoor mark of 7-1 he lands inside the top-15 in the nation.
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Redshirt sophomore Jessie Sullivan and redshirt junior Matt Slagus moved in the nation’s top-50 for the hammer throw. Sullivan hit 203-9 and Slagus threw for 203-1 respectively.
Senior Zach Anderson ranked fifth nationally in the high jump, redshirt freshman Brithton Senior sits at sixth nationally in 110-meter hurdles and freshman Eerik Haamer vaulted to eighth nationally at the Early Bird.
“I’m on like year five, now it’s kind of just like we know what we have to do and we know we have to be doing each week to hit those accomplishments so now it’s just a given that it’s up to me to get those things in order and then finish strong,” Anderson said.
Anderson is two centimeters off the qualification height for Olympic Trials in Oregon this summer. He plans to jump for those marks to have a shot at competing at Trials.
“I’m hoping to get that done this season and be able to go back to Oregon at the end of June,” Anderson said. “Jump there for those and then maybe keep jumping and see what’s going on from there.”
In event squad rankings South Dakota ranks second in men’s and women’s pole vault, and third and tenth in women’s and men’s steeplechase respectively.
“I guess the weather really, if the weather’s nice and, and the conditions are very good, it’s just a pleasure to compete outside with everybody else,” Haamer said. “You tend to get more people and compete with more people outdoors so it’s also fun.”
The Coyote’s next meet is the South Dakota Challenge Friday’s and Saturday at the Lillibridge Track Complex and Gottslben Field.