JAY DAVIS: State meet should be on every sports fan’s bucket list


Every South Dakotan who has a sports bucket list should make at least one trip to the State Track and Field Meet. Even though the sun did not fill its reservation and missed the weekend, the meet was still a sight to behold.

Friday in Spearfish and Saturday in Rapid City, a person would have had to wade through puddles, stand in the rain and sit on wet, cold bleachers, but the sights on the track were more than enough to make up for the lousy viewing situation.
On Saturday in Rapid City, you would have seen some of the most elite track athletes in South Dakota history.

Kari Heck won the AA 100, 200 and 400. She is the state record holder in the long jump and has an all-time top 10 time in each of the three sprints. Like Mobridge wrestler Collin Jensen, Heck will take her game to Nebraska to compete for the Cornhuskers.

Tony Smoragiewicz of Rapid City Central won the 3200 in meet record time, along with winning the 1600. He has placed high in meets across the nation and is on his way to Michigan to run for the Wolverines.

Chris Nielsen of Madison was a thorn in the Tigers’ side all weekend. Nielsen won the Class A 100, 200 and 400 and ran the anchor leg for the Bulldogs when they nipped the Tigers to win the 800-meter relay title.

Carly Carper of Oldham-Ramona-Rutland won the 100 and 200 and anchored the winning 400-meter relay. Carper just ended maybe the most incredible career in South Dakota history. She won six 100-meter dash titles! Yup, every year from seventh grade on. Adding everything up, Carper won 11 individual and three relay state titles. Not bad.

Macy Heinz of Ipswich is just a seventh-grader (same year Carper won her first title) and could be headed for a great career. Heinz was the B outstanding performer after winning the 400, 800 and 1600 and anchoring the winning 1600-meter relay team, all a part of the Ipswich girls winning the Class B team title.

Hey, let’s not have this conversation without extolling the highlights of what may go down as the best track and field team in the Tigers’ long and glorious history.

Let’s start with the Friesz twins. Not only are the boys state champions, Bailley leaves as the Tiger record holder in the 400, along with being a teammate on the record-setting 800 and 1600-meter relay teams. Peyton finishes his career as a state champion and teammate on the 800, 1600 and medley relay team that own Tiger records. Harlan and Shanna Friesz have every right to be loud and proud of their kids’ track endeavors. Remember, big sister Caitlin was the state 3200-meter champion.

What is this list? Daniel Roberts, Cody Schaefbauer, Austin Borah, Jason Hill, Mason Keller and Steph Gemar are all underclassmen (and woman) who hold or are teammates on a Tiger track record. They will all be back next spring looking to create more excitement and maybe take some record numbers and make the times even lower and the distances even longer.

Last but not least, not least by far, is Kass Keller. The Lady Tiger senior rounded out an outstanding career by placing sixth in the 200-meter dash at state. Keller leaves as a three-time medalist at state, having taken sixth in the 400 and running on the sixth-place medley team last year. She has also left her name etched in the record book. Keller holds the Lady Tiger record in the 400.

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