Track team starts season with Early Bird
By Jay Davis
The Mobridge-Pollock track and field team has been running and throwing for plenty of gold lately, and with 55 Tigers and Lady Tigers out for the season, including 16 with state meet experience, the team is expecting to have a lot more success this spring.
The snow just melted and gave way for track season, so the team has been practicing indoors. They held their first outdoor practice on Monday.
“They’re out of shape,” said coach Marty Looyenga. “You can try to prep for outdoors, but you just can’t mimic indoors what you can do outside.”
But Looyenga knows that the competition is in the same boat as the Tigers. No teams have had outdoor training weather before this week.
The team of 25 boys and 30 girls will get its first test of the season at the Mobridge-Pollock Early Bird Meet. The meet starts at 10 a.m. A huge roster of teams is headed to the Bridge City including Aberdeen Roncalli, Herreid-Selby Area, Edmunds Central, Leola, McLaughlin, Lemmon, Sully Buttes, Eureka-Bowdle, Timber Lake, Faith, McIntosh, Wakpala, Bison, Stanley County, Dupree, Redfield-Doland, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte and Warner, along with North Dakota schools Standing Rock and Strasburg.
While Looyenga expects the Tigers to have plenty of success against the visiting teams, a lot of the meet will be about learning more about the newcomers on the squad.
“I know what the experienced kids can do, but mostly we just need times,” said Looyenga. “We need to know what the new kids can do. It’s really a barometer for figuring out where the kids will compete.”
The Tigers have depth and experience drawn from success after taking fourth at the State A Track and Field
Meet last spring. Four Tigers who placed in the state meet last year return in seniors Austin Borah, Mitch Heumiller and Jason Hill and junior Mason Keller. Borah, Heumiller and Keller were on the 1600-meter relay team that took second at state and the 800-meter relay team that finished third. Heumiller, Keller and Hill placed sixth with the medley relay. Borah added a fourth-place finish in the 400 and seventh-place finish in the 200. Also competing at state last spring were senior Conner Stoick and junior Reece Wientjes.
The Tigers will do a lot more than rely on the their leaders for success. The team’s newcomers along with an influx of athletes in the sophomore and freshmen classes will add to the team’s depth and talent.
“We’re going to have people entered in every event this year,” said Looyenga. “In fact, both rosters will. I think this is the first time since I’ve been here.”
You can’t talk about the Lady Tigers without starting with defending state champion discus thrower Steph Gemar.
After winning the Class A title and the gold medal for the longest discus throw in the entire state meet (Class AA and B included), Gemar is back for her senior season. She has her sights set not only on defending her title, but maybe knocking off some of the best throws in state history. Gemar’s top throw of her career was the state title winning 148-foot, 2-inches toss last May in Lennox. She is a mere inches away from cracking the state’s all-time top 10 list (10th is 148-5). The Class A record is 151-8 by Sarah Stevens of Hot Springs set in 2001. Karen McDonald of Pierre set the state record at 163-0 back in 1979.
Looyenga said Gemar will give some of those numbers a good run if the weather provides enough nice weather for good practice conditions. Whether records fall or not, it will not be because of any lack of effort on the state champ’s part.
“Steph’s just that quiet competitor who will give you all she’s got every time,” said Looyenga.
While the rest of the team did not score any points at state last spring, the Lady Tigers have a host of runners who had a taste of the state’s top competition. Returning Lady Tigers with state meet experience are seniors Mary Martin and Ashton Wiederholt, juniors Brandi Martian, Keely Moriarty, Kayla Schneider and Maranda Wagner and sophomores Cassi Heumiller, ReAnne Kohlus, Alexa Schaefbauer and Kylee Wagner.
“Add to that 11 freshmen the girls have a lot of depth,” said Looyenga.
Mobridge-Pollock has an outstanding schedule ahead. The Rotary/Tiger Relays will be one week from Thursday on April 17. The Big Dakota Conference Meet will be in Miller, while the Central South Dakota Conference Meet will be in Chamberlain. The team will compete against the best in state at the American Legion Relays in Pierre, Howard Wood Relays in Sioux Falls and the Black Hills Classic in Sturgis. Competition against area teams will be in Groton, Lemmon and Eureka. This year’s Region 6A meet will be in Chamberlain. The State A Track and Field Meet will be in Madison and Sioux Falls.
This year’s Tigers are: seniors- Austin Borah, Darrean Borah, Mitch Heumiller, Jason Hill and Conner Stoick; juniors- Kenny Helm, Mason Keller, Justin Nobles and Reece Wientjes; sophomores- David Beadle, Jacob Bleyle, Quinten Fish, Trent Hammer, Bray Harrison, Tyler Larson, Eli Richards, Nathan Thompson and Gary Wollman; freshmen- Aaron Jacobs, Justin Jacobs, Dalton Martian, Jesse Nobles and Jaiden Sjomeling; and eighth-grader Carson Keller.
The Lady Tigers are: seniors- Stephanie Gemar, Mary Martin, Jo’L Pretends Eagle and Ashton Wiederholt; juniors- Brandi Martian, Becca Martin, Keely Moriarty, Tanja Moser, Kayla Schneider and Maranda Wagner; sophomores- Cassi Heumiller, ReAnne Kohlus, Madison Rau, Allie Sauer, Alexa Schaefbauer, Lacy Steiger, Juliette Two Lance and Kylee Wagner; and freshmen- Terry Baker, Danielle Beadle, Morgan Dienert, Sam Good Shield, Lauren Henderson, Aryn Looyenga, Jessica Maher, Sarah Maher, Callie Mickelson, Kallie Pearman, Autumn Schlomer and Grace Wollman.