Area highlights in three-day state track meet include boys' pole vault win for Watertown's Spartz

·6 min read
Watertown Sophomore Owen Spartz (847) placed first in the Class AA Pole Vault event clearing 14.06 ft in the 2022 State Track Meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday, May 27, 2022.
Watertown Sophomore Owen Spartz (847) placed first in the Class AA Pole Vault event clearing 14.06 ft in the 2022 State Track Meet at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday, May 27, 2022.

Wow. The 2022 state high school track meet was held over three days at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls and it felt like it lasted 72 hours.

"It was pretty long, but if you were just a fan who wanted to go watch some track and field it's probably a good thing," said Watertown head coach Chad Rohde.

"For the sake of coaching and trying to keep kids fresh, out of the sun and ready to go, there was just a lot of down time during the three-day meet."

Still, it was a pretty good meet.

Here are some highlights for Watertown and other area high school track and field athletes:

Owen Spartz gets the only win for Watertown

The Arrow boys and girls won only one event in the Class AA divisions and that came Friday when pre-meet favorite Owen Spartz, a sophomore, topped the field in the boys' pole vault.

Spartz, a third-place finisher in 2021, entered with the season-best vault of 15-5 -- a school record from the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet. Spartz went 14-6 to top the field at state.

"The conditions weren't in our favor. It was really hot and the wind was probably not the best," said Spartz, whose brother Noah was a three-time state place winner (two-time runner-up) from 2015-17. "I wasn't mad about it, it was a state championship.

Spartz passed along thanks to Watertown pole vault coach Casey Feininger and other coaches who have helped him get to this point.

"It's just outstanding for him to be only a sophomore and a state champion," said Rohde. "For him to reach the heights he has reached this year has been a blessing and we look forward to the future."

Spartz currently is sixth all-time in the event and has two more years remaining in an attempt to surpass the state mark of 16-1.5.

"I've thought about it," he said. "Coach Feininger and I are still trying to work everything out. It will come when it comes."

Rapid City Stevens' Baylee Van Zee, Lincoln's Dymond Nave and Watertown's Myah Morris competes in the 100 meter hurdles in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Rapid City Stevens' Baylee Van Zee, Lincoln's Dymond Nave and Watertown's Myah Morris competes in the 100 meter hurdles in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

How Did the Arrows Do?

The Arrow girls finished seventh with 35 points and the boys tied for ninth with 38.

"I said our goals at the beginning of the season were to finish in the top half at state and we came pretty close to that," said Rohde. "Sure, we left some points out there but we had a number of kids who were hitting PRs (personal records). When they give you everything they've got and come up short, there's not much more you can ask for."

Brandon Valley's Jeremiah Donahoe, Watertown's Collin Dingsor and Rapid City Stevens' Tanner Lunders stumble across the finish line of the 100 meter hurdle race in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Brandon Valley's Jeremiah Donahoe, Watertown's Collin Dingsor and Rapid City Stevens' Tanner Lunders stumble across the finish line of the 100 meter hurdle race in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

Collin Dingsor (third in boys' 300-meter hurdles and fourth in the 110 hurdles who also ran on the seventh-place medley relay), Cole Holden (third in boys' javelin) and Myah Morris (second in girls' 100 hurdles and sixth in triple jump) placed in events on Saturday and are among the group of seniors who competed for Watertown one final time.

Other Arrow placers on Friday and Saturday included Jaxson Fiechtner (fifth in boys' 800 run), Malia Kranz (fourth in girls' discus), Maddy Rohde (second in girls' javelin) and Jaida Young (fifth in girls' javelin) also scored points on the final two days.

Milbank's Bennett Schwenn leaps to the sand pit while competing in the long jump on the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Milbank's Bennett Schwenn leaps to the sand pit while competing in the long jump on the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

Repeat awards for Hamlin's Leiseth, Milbank's Schwenn

Hamlin junior Gracelyn Leiseth and Milbank senior Bennett Schwenn repeated as the Class A girls and boys most valuable athletes in the field events.

Leiseth shattered her all-time state record in the girls' shot put on Saturday with a toss of 52-6.76, the top throw this season in the entire nation. She also was second in the discus on Friday.

Hamlin's Gracelyn Leiseth competes in the class A shot put finals in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Hamlin's Gracelyn Leiseth competes in the class A shot put finals in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

"That was an amazing moment," she said. "My footwork felt really good and I just finished strong on that throw."

Schwenn won the boys' triple jump (45-11.75) for the third time on Friday and also was second in the long jump on Saturday. He also anchored the winning 1,600 relay for the Bulldogs.

Another runner-up finish for Milbank's boys

Schwenn and others helped lead coach Eric Townsend's Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the Class A team standings for the second year in a row.

Fellow senior Nick Batchelor also played a key role, finishing second in the 800 and 3,200 on Friday and third in the 1,600 on Saturday. Ryker Trevett (shot put) and Jayden Johnson (pole vault) also placed in events over the final two days.

Batchelor, Kaden Krause and Garrett Mertens also ran on the winning 1,600 relay, which prevented repeat state champion Sioux Falls Christian was sweeping the boys' relay events in the meet.

Tri-State's Kaleb Foltz runs to the finish line as the anchor of the medley relay in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Tri-State's Kaleb Foltz runs to the finish line as the anchor of the medley relay in the final day of the state track meet on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

Pay attention Harley Hanson, there's another standout distance runner from Rosholt

Hanson was an talented distance standout from Rosholt in the late 1980s and still holds the state-meet Class B records in the boys' 1,600 and 3,200 runs.

Rosholt is now part of the Tri-State co-op and on the meet's final two days, Tri-State sophomore Kaleb Foltz sent a message. He won the 800 on Friday in a time of 1:59.73, added a win in the 1,600 on Saturday (4:35.01) and anchored the winning medley relay (3:45.27) that also featured Dominick and Jakobe Anderson and Grayson Madsen.

"He's an idol to me," Foltz said of Hanson. "I look at all his records and he's amazing. I'd really like to get some of his records."

Some other highlights for area athletes

• Estelline-Hendricks' Sadie Johnson won the Class B girls' pole vault (10-3) on Friday and teammate Danielle Hawley (shot put) and Arlington's Hadley Carlson (high jump) — who won events on Thursday -- as event winners in the division.  Counting Spartz's win, area athletes won 10 events in the meet.

• Johnson also placed in the long and triple jumps and Carlson in the 100 hurdles. Other multiple-event individual placers included Mackenzie Everson of Castlewood (Class B girls' 100, 200 and 400 dashes), Kami Wadsworth of Hamlin (Class A girls' discus and shot put), Ricky Berndt of Deuel (Class A boys' 800 and 1,600 runs) and Jon Nefzger of Estelline-Hendricks (Class B boys' shot put and discus).

• The only other team to medal was Castlewood's boys in the Class B. Coach Doug Ruesink's Warriors scored 34 points to take fifth. On Saturday, Jaron Tharaldsen anchored the Warriors' second-place 800 and 1,600 relays and fourth-place 400 relay while also adding a second-place finish in the 400 dash.

Tri-State finished seventh (30 points) in the Class B boys division, Estelline-Hendricks tied for seventh (25) in the Class B girls division and Sioux Valley and Hamlin each were ninth (30) in the Class A girls division.

This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Area highlights in three-day state track meet include boys' pole vault win for Watertown's Spartz