After three straight second-place finishes at the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the South Dakota men got their elusive outdoor league title, even if they have to share it.
The Coyote men tied North Dakota State for their first ever outdoor league title with 260 points after rallying back from being 32 points down with five events left. The Coyotes entered the final event (the 4x400-meter relay) with a two point lead, but NDSU won a tight race in 3 minutes, 14.39 seconds. The USD team of Erik Hill, Jeff O’Connell, Mach Dojiok and Lukas Bernard placed second in 3:15.13, edging SDSU in third by .85 seconds and bringing the championship race to a tie.
“We ended up tying up NDSU, but we couldn’t be happier with our performances,” said men’s head coach Dave Gottsleben. “It was a great battle with NDSU and our kids rolled with the punches all meet. We responded well in the 5,000 to give us the lead and Lukas had a courageous anchor leg run in the 4x400 to beat SDSU and give us a share of the title.”
NDSU took the women’s title with 246 points while the Coyote women finished third with 169 points. The Coyote women had one champion in Amber Eichkorn on Saturday while the men had three individual winners.
Several Coyotes earned league honors: Jeff Mettler was named the Men’s Track Championship MVP, Kyle McKelvey was named the Men’s Field Championship MVP, Dustin Valind earned Men’s Newcomer of the Championship honors and Danielle Waldner took home Women’s Newcomer of the Championship honors.
The Coyote men made up most of their deficit in the men’s 5,000 as Mettler won his second title of the meet. The Coyotes made up 15 points in that event as four Coyotes scored. Mettler won in 14:49.48, Brant Haase was second in 14:53.14, Isaac Allen was fifth in 15:00.63 and Mubarik Musa placed seventh in 15:10.10. The effort gave the Coyotes the lead with only the 4x400 remaining.
Mettler, who won two titles at the meet, will finish his career with four outdoor league titles. He also added a third-place finish in the men’s 1,500 with a time of 3:53.65 while Stephen Nielson was seventh at 3:58.41.
The men also received wins from Kyle Ballew in the pole vault and McKelvey in the discus. Ballew won with a mark of 16 feet, 11½ inches while teammates Peter Chapman (16-5½) and Preston Perkins (15-11¾) finished second and third, respectively. McKelvey won his second title of the championships by throwing the discus to a mark of 164-8 while Valind placed second at 159-4.
The men also got a win from the 4x100 relay as O’Connell, Teivaskie Lewin, Hill and Christian Nielsen teamed up to finish in 41.02.
Lewin recorded three top-five finishes individually while leading the way for four Coyotes to score in the 200. Lewin finished third in 21.88 while Nielsen was fourth (22.08), Rothering was seventh (22.32) and O’Connell was eighth 22.49. Lewin then added a second-place finish in the 110 hurdles in 14.64 while Hill was third in 14.66 and Hank Lentsch was sixth in 15.83. He also had a fourth-place finish in the 100 (10.95).
Bernard added a pair of top-five finishes. He finished second in the 400 (48.71) while Nielsen was seventh (49.27) and added a fourth-place finish in the 400 hurdles (54.33) as Hill was fifth (54.57).
Rounding out the men’s scoring performances were three finishers in the 800 and two in the triple jump. Dojiok placed third in the 800 in 1:52.82 while Taylor Huseman was sixth in 1:56.69. Nielson placed seventh in 1:57.10. Connor Fitzsimmons led the ‘Yotes in the triple jump with a fourth-place finishing mark of 45-5 while O’Connell was seventh at 43-9¼.
For the women, Eichkorn had the women’s lone championship run on Saturday, winning the 5,000 in 17:02.42. It was her second title of championships after she won the 10,000 on Thursday. Teammate Katie Wetzstein placed fourth in 17:46.18 while Megan Hilson was seventh at 18:01.61.
Three Coyote women added second-place finishes. Wetzstein placed second in the women’s 1,500 (4:30.92) before adding a fifth-place finish in the 800 (2:12.85), Ashley Thompson was runner-up in the women’s triple jump (40-7) and Breanna Janovy was runner-up in the women’s discus (156-9). Meghan Dennis added an eighth-place finish in the discus with a mark of 142-8.
The women added three scoring efforts in the 100 hurdles as Tansha Clarke finished fourth in 14.83, Thompson finished fifth in 14.88 and Molly Ervin finished eighth in 15.65. They also added two scorers in the 400 as Amber Ewers placed fifth in 56.81 and DeAsia Garrett placed eighth in 59.47.
Rounding out the women’s scoring efforts, Ravan Kott placed seventh in the 200 (25.86) and eighth in the 100 (12.84). Tricia Watson added an eighth-place in the 400 hurdles (1:05.12). The women also added a fourth-place in the 4x100 (49.16) and a fifth in the 4x400 (3:59.92).
USD will be back in action at the NCAA West Region Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Ark., starting on May 29. Those who are in the top-48 on the NCAA West Region performance list will qualify for that meet.
T-1. South Dakota – 260
T-1. North Dakota State – 260
3. South Dakota State – 146
4. Western Illinois – 111
5. IUPUI – 22
1. North Dakota State – 246
2. South Dakota State – 193
3. South Dakota – 169
4. Omaha – 116
5. Western Illinois – 42
6. Fort Wayne – 32
7. IUPUI – 15
Newcomer of the Championship: Dustin Valind, South Dakota
Track Championship MVP: Jeff Mettler, South Dakota
Field Championship MVP: Kyle McKelvey, South Dakota
Coach of the Year: Don Larson, North Dakota State
Newcomer of the Championship: Danielle Waldner, South Dakota
Track Championship MVP: Ashley Tingelstad, North Dakota State
Field Championship MVP: Sami Spenner, Omaha
Coach of the Year: Ryun Godfrey, North Dakota State
Courtesy: Jarrod Tell, Assistant Sports Information Director/Video Coordinator, University of South Dakota