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Outdoor season blooming for USD track and field

The University of South Dakota men’s and women’s track and field teams are standing in similar waters as last year.

The men reigned supreme in the Summit League’s winter season again, claiming their second consecutive indoor conference title.

“Outdoor is a whole other sport for us,” junior Lukas Bernard said. “Being indoor champs doesn’t matter during outdoor. NDSU still thinks they are favorites. That is fine with us. We love upsets and knocking that ugly green and yellow off the podium.”

On the flipside, the women are looking for their first breakthrough in the conference championships — a tall order considering the six-year dynasty NDSU has put together on the women’s side.

Women’s head coach Lucky Huber said it’s nice for NDSU to have the Summit League titles, but USD’s performances at the national level speak for themselves.

The Coyote women finished 10th overall at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. NDSU did not place.

“There’s a difference between the conference meets and the national meets,” Huber said. “There’s a differences in your quality, and that’s what we got really good right now.”

The road through the outdoor season began this weekend in Tulsa, Okla. The Coyotes transported a group of athletes to compete in the Tulsa Duals and saw performances ready to kick off a big outdoor season.

The team would file two athletes as champions before coming home: Bernard in the 400-meter hurdles and sophomore Meghan Dennis in the women’s javelin.

“It felt good to be back on an outdoor track,” Bernard said. “I was about a second off my personal record. I’m happy with the performance, now just looking forward to improving on it.”

Gottsleben said Tulsa is an important meet, especially to get throwers out in competition.

“Tulsa was more of a ‘get the throwers down there’ meet,” Gottsleben said. “Now we have a couple groups going to Austin, Texas, and Wayne State. So it’s a busy week for us, and we have to get to work.”

Outdoor season features four more events than indoor season, and with two events being throwing events, different athletes will be factors through the outdoor competitions.

“One of the big things about indoor and outdoor is we start to add more events,” Huber said. “You add some javelin throwers, hammer throwers, steeplechase, the 10K. That’s what we’re looking forward to this time of year – getting those kids out and improving and adding to our team.”