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After a somewhat slow start to the outdoor track season due to unfavorable weather, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s and women’s track teams have gained momentum down the stretch and are looking very good for the Dakota Athletic Conference Meet set for Friday in Dickinson, N.D.
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- After a somewhat slow start to the outdoor track season due to unfavorable weather, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s and women’s track teams have gained momentum down the stretch and are looking very good for the Dakota Athletic Conference Meet set for Friday in Dickinson, N.D.
“I think we are where we want to be at this stage of the game. Now we just need to finish out the season in a strong manner,” said Hardrocker head track coach Jerry Schafer.
In the last DAC performance list, the Hardrockers have the best marks in five different events: sophomore Shannon Hellman leads both the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles, junior Chandler Caldwell has a share of the top mark in the pole vault, senior Jake Donnelly owns the fastest time in 200 dash and Colton Reid is out in front in the 800 run.
“We have five people leading in their events and several that are fairly high up in other events,” Schafer said. “I think we have more people leading events this year than we did last year but we have more injuries and are maybe a little bit leaner in some events.”
Donnelly is second on the list for the 100 and 400 dashes, junior Tyler Flattum is sitting in the third spot for the 110 hurdles, Hellman is in fifth place in the 100 dash and fourth in the 200, freshman Jenny Strong in sixth best in the high jump, senior Eric Voorhees is fourth in the shot put and the SDM men’s 4x400 relay team is second in that event
“We are pretty excited that our athletes are getting more and more competitive at the top end (of the events). We just don’t have the depth we had last year at this point due to injury,” Schafer said. “I am very pleased with the way our kids have developed and are competing right now. They are not only looking to improve times, but are looking to run with people that have been ahead of them in the past.”
Constantly improving times is no easy task, especially in the DAC, a conference renowned for it fierce competition.
“We have one of the best track conferences in the country,” Schafer said. “So our conference consequently is a very competitive conference and every event is a national championship caliber event. That in it self makes our kids step up and compete harder,��� said Schafer.
The Hardrockers have really answered the call and the individual efforts are the proof.
Last season Hellman set the all time South Dakota collegiate fastest record in the 100 hurdles at 13.62. During the indoor season this year, she was named the most valuable track athlete of the meet and also the outstanding track female athlete. The Rapid City native scored 35 points all by herself participating in the 55 hurdles, 55 dash, 200 dash and 400 dash. Schafer said he was going to ease back the workload for the outdoor conference meet.
“We are not going to run her in as many events as we did indoors. I think we pushed her to the limit there,����� he said. “She still has a little bit of sickness from this spring and it’s effected her times.”
Hellman went on to win the national title in the 60 hurdles indoors this year, gaining All American status in the process. Heading into Friday’s meet, she is automatically qualified in both the 100 (14.14) and 400 (1:03.97) hurdle races.
Donnelly is another athlete that has done well at important meets. After earning All American honors at the national indoor meet earlier this year, the Elk Point native is
---continued--- poised to make a strong run at Friday’s DAC meet. He was one spot away from an outdoor All American honor last year, and according to Schafer is well ahead of the pace this time around.
“Jake Donnelly is running phenomenal right now. We just wonder how fast he is going to get down the stretch,” Schafer said. “He has equaled his best 200 (21.65) time of his career (this year), set the school record in the open 400 (48.23) the first time he ran it this year and his 100 (10.75) time is the second best of his career. He is running about as well as anybody can possibly run.”
After just missing a trip to the NAIA Indoor Meet, Colton Reid (Colstrip, Mont.) is hungry to advance to the national outdoor meet. He is less than a second from earning a provisional mark for the 800 run and his desire alone has kept him ahead of the pack since the outdoor season began.
“He is running very well at this point in the 800. He had a tremendous outdoor season, winning several meets and placing high at the larger Colorado meets,” Schafer said.
Caldwell did make the national indoor meet, and has the 12th best vault currently in the nation and provisional qualification. He also owns the SDM school record at 15-feet-7-inches.
“He has set (personal records) twice now outdoors and had some tremendous attempts at 16 feet. He also broke the school record twice outdoors,” the head coach added of Caldwell.
Schafer also feels his female high jumpers --- Strong, Ashley Stewart and Beth Hansen--- should do well and place high at Friday’s meet along with discus and javelin thrower Katrina Donovan.
The Lady Hardrocker long distance runner Samantha Diede is also expected to be competitive, running in the 3,000 steeplechase and 800 run. Diede had a career best in the 1,500 last week and a season best in the 800.
Looking at the overall picture, Shafer felt that Dickinson State would be the favorite to win the men’s division, while Black Hills State would be the front runner for the women.
As for the Hardrockers, Schafer said his women, with their very small numbers are looking to secure fifth place while the men’s should earn fourth --- maybe higher.
“If the (Hardrocker) men run like they are capable of they should get fourth and even possibly knocking on the door to third place,” Schafer said.
South Dakota School of Mines Colin Royer gets at the ready at the start of the men’s 4x400 relay event at a meet earlier this season in Spearfish. Royer and the rest of the Hardrocker relay team hold the No. 2 spot in the DAC for that event. The conference meet is set for Friday in Dickinson, N.D. Photo by Brad Blume
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Add tags for After a somewhat slow start to the outdoor track season due to unfavorable weather, the South Dakota School of Mines men’s and women’s track teams have gained momentum down the stretch and are looking very good for the Dakota Athletic Conference Meet set for Friday in Dickinson, N.D.