JAY DAVIS: Gemar’s discus, boys’ 1600 relay are big events this year

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Having Tigers and Lady Tigers compete for the chance to be state champions is getting to be kind of fun. Covering the team and being a fan as they strive for titles is kind of habit-forming. I have been eagerly anticipating the 2014 track season.

There are two events that I am especially looking forward to. One is Steph Gemar in the discus and the second is the boys’ 1600-meter relay team.

Gemar, the defending Class A state discus champion, had quite the junior campaign. Her title-winning throw of 148 feet, 2 inches, did not just win the Class A title, it won the gold medal as the longest throw in all three state tournaments. The top throw in AA was 134-11. The top throw in B was 137-6. It was also the longest discus throw in the state all season last year, and was just three inches from cracking the South Dakota all-time top 10 list (see accompanying chart).

With an average winning throw of more than 133 feet last year, Gemar went 7-1. Her only loss was at the Black Hills Classic to a thrower from Sundance, Wyo. As a sophomore, Gemar went 9-3, while finishing third in state. She has set and reset the Mobridge-Pollock discus record four times.

If the season goes the way she would like, the future Troy University thrower will send the discus farther than she ever has before. While she did finish last season with that outstanding throw, last year was a tough one. Not only did the last snows erase five meets from the schedule, they also made practicing a battle with the conditions. Plus (and Gemar won’t tell you this) she threw with a damaged ankle all last spring.

The Class A record is the first in her sights. Sarah Stevens of Hot Springs went 151-8 in 2001. The state record is quite a ways out there. Back in 1979, Karen McDonald of Pierre launched the discus 163-0.

The boys’ 1600-meter relay team has been quite a run lately (pun intended, not funny, but intended). The team of Austin Borah, Mitch Heumiller, Mason Keller and Cody Schaefbauer took second in state last year, following up the 2012 state championship team that Borah and Schaefbauer ran on with the Friesz twins, Bailley and Peyton. Over the last two years, the mile relay team has gone 11-2. The only losses were state last spring and the Sioux Falls Relays in 2012 when the team finished fourth to AA schools Sioux Falls Washington, Bismarck and Brandon Valley. This year Jason Hill will join Borah, Heumiller and Keller as the team looks for a third straight year of being one of the dominant mile relay teams in the state. The boys have quite a tradition to uphold. The Tigers have made the finals at state five straight years, having taken seventh in 2011, eighth in 2010 and seventh in 2009.

Don’t forget that those same two groups of runners were pretty special in the 800-meter relay the last two seasons. The 800 team went 13-3, while taking third in state last year and second the year before. The only other loss came at those same Sioux Falls Relays.

There is going to be a lot of Tiger and Lady Tiger success to cheer for when the team opens its season at the Early Bird tomorrow, but Gemar in the discus and the boys’ 1600-meter relay team are going to be particularly special.

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