The 2010 Ranger Track and Field season will feature a boys and girls teams that finished with outstanding S.D. State Track Meet performances last season. With a girl's team that returns nearly their whole squad and an emerging boy's team, the Rangers look to tear up the tracks when the competition heats up in late May.
GIRL'S 2009 RECAP
Last season the Lady Rangers finished as Region 8A Runner-Up and a week later placed 5th in Class A at the 2009 State Track Meet . Such a performance a the state meet- the Lady Rangers were just a point-and-a-half from a spot on the podiim. Jessica McDonald led the young crew with her gutty performance at the 2009 meet. McDonald's State Meet started with anchoring the State Champion 4x800 relay team which was led-off by her younger sister, Kala McDonald. On the first lap, Kala placed the Ranger girls in a spot they would not relenquish- the lead. Mariah Asheim, a senior this season, ran the second leg- with her best 800 meter run of the season, right at the 2:30 mark. Asheim is an incredibly consistent and strong runner and is back for the 2010 season. Another composed 2-lap jaunt by Stephanie Qualm replicated Asheim's outstanding run. Qualm lengthened the lead held by Asheim- something that is extremely tough in the 800- especially when you're running solo, but Qualm is made of pure tougness and presented the older McDonald with a nice lead. Jessica finished the race with a strong last 200 meters to ensure a finish faster than the leading time from Heat #1 (10:02) to give the Ranger girls a taste of what the 2008 boy's 4x800 experienced: GOLD.
Later in the meet, the Medley Relay team of Kelby Wiederhold, Sage Wooldrige, Kala McDonald and Mariah Asheim were in the first, and most competitive heat of the Class A medley. The girls finished 5th in the heat and it didn't look like they would advance to the finals. Heat-by-heat, the girls' time stood and they advanced to the finals- certain points for the Lady Rangers. Handoff were key in this relay as this was the first time this team had competed together heading into the state meet.
In the 800 meter finals, Hill City qualified the maximum of three runners for the finals- however, Asheim was an incredible teammate, and instead of running in the 800 meters, anchored the Medley Relay - the event preceeding the 800 meters. That left Jessica McDonald and Stephanie Qualm to vie for top places in track's most grueling event. McDonald, running her third race of the day (4x800 anchor, 400m prelims) and Qualm bided their time at the back of the pack on the first lap, hoping to capitalize on a too-fast start by the other girls in the field. That wasn't the case, however in this race, and the pack went out very conservatively. In last place with 300 meters remaining, Qualm launched an incredible kick, moving past runner after runner. Qualm, who was ranked 8th going into the final- about five seconds from the top three girls- churned out an outstanding long kick and ended up with the bronze. McDonald, in one her her guttiest races on the hot May day, used a late race surge to pick up 5th- more importantly 10 points for the Ranger girls- and 20 on the day.
On the final day of competition in Rapid City, the Ranger girls were right in the mix for a spot on the podium, however all of the sprint event finals are held on "State Meet Saturday" so the girls had to rely on the four events entered to hopefully pick up some valuable points. Erika Bamsey, in her first state meet, was close to cracking a nice through to gain Top 8 points, but just missed out. This left Jessica McDonald Steph Qualm in the 1600 meters and the Medley Relay team to attempt to make Hill City Girl's history.
As Jessica McDonald warmed up for the 400 meters, you could clearly see fatigue in her stride, as she raced the 4x800 meter finals, the 400 meter prelims and the 800 meter finals on Friday. What you couldn't see from the shaky warm-up, however, was the incredible heart inside the talented sophomore. McDonald ran hard from the gun in what looked to be a full out sprint on the first corner...and onto the backstretch. This usually doesn't bide well in the 400 meters, as a fast, yet relaxed backstretch is typical of the top runners. McDonald, however, just kept hangin. Entering last place entering the final turn, McDonald ran a stunning final straight, willing her way past runner after runner. WIth 50 meters left in the race, it looked like McDonald would probably finish third, an outstanding accomplishment. However, McDonald had different ideas and found a final ounce of energy to lunge through the tape, and in the process picking up her first state title.
In the 1600 meters, Qualm ran an outstanding race, running 5:35- just off her school record in the event to place 10th in such a deep Class A distance field. The girl's Medley Relay did an outstanding job on tired legs. Sage Wooldridge and Mariah Asheim had perfect handoffs- a huge plus in such a race and McDonald somehow pulled another great 400 meter leg out just an hour after winning the 400 meter title. Kala McDonald, new to the 800 meters, anchored the team to a 6th finish to etch the Rangers team score at 33 points- enough to secure a Top 5 finish- the best in school history on the girl's side.
2009 CLASS 'A' GIRLS
FINAL TEAM SCORES
1. ST. THOMAS MORE 71
2. WAGNER 37
3. CUSTER 37
4. SIOUX VALLEY 34.5
5. HILL CITY 33
BOY'S 2009 RECAP
The Ranger boys had a very similar season compared to the girls. At the Region 8A Track Meet, the Ranger boys were crowned Region Champions and followed their first-ever Region win with a strong 6th place showing at the state track meet a week later.
Leading the Rangers to their sixth place finish were seniors Andy Coy and Clint Lewis. Lewis started off the day in outstanding fashion, taking the Medley Relay team from way back into the finals with a personal best 2:04 anchor-leg split. Lewis was joined on the Medley relay with Michael Bistodeau, the talented sophomore who really had a breakthrough year in 2009. Senior Colton McLaughlin and Jr. Cody Skiles ran the 200m legs for the Rangers, helping advance the squad into finals competition.
Coy was slated on the track next in Class A's most anticipated race, the boy's 800 meters. Leading the field was Alex Muntefering from Parkston, who was one of the top high school 800 meters in the country (Muntefering went on to run 1:51.34 and qualify for the USA Track and Field National Championships in the 800m where he finished 8th overall/4th high school athlete.) Coy's race started with misfortune as he was tangled up and boxed in the first 200 meters, spotting the Parkston star a two-second lead. Muntefering took full advantage and bolted to a new state meet record. Coy followed in second, just missing the old meet record (1:55.9), running 1:56.20.
Immediately following the 800 meters, Lewis was on the track yet again for the 3200 meter run. Lewis ran an unbelievably gutty race, picking up seventh place and two points for the Rangers with his first individual medal at the state track meet.
At the final day of competition, Hill City had two events in which to compete, hoping to break into Class A's Top 10- and maybe-combined with the girls, be in contention for the "Combined Team State Title".
Coy and Lewis started off the day in the 1600 meter run. The 1600 meters marked the final race for some of South Dakota's best distance runners in recent times. In the field was Muntefering, and Kiko Mendoza, who in the fall of 2008, became the firs South Dakota male to win four consecutive State Cross Country titles. On Friday, Mendoza was the 3200 meters to add to a tremendous collection of state meet gold medals. Coy and Lewis came through big, both setting all-time personal bests for 1600 meters. Coy finished second, behind Muntefering (who set another state record) in an outstanding 4:24.02 and Lewis absolutely crushed his PR, running a stunning 4:33.76- a time good enough that some years, would be good enough to win the Class A mile.
Thanks to Lewis' heroics on the anchor leg the day before, the medley relay took the track with seniors Andy Coy and Colton McLaughlin competing in their final high school races. McLaughlin led the race off with a nice first leg against some of the best East River sprint corps in recent memory. Cody Skiles ran a very impressive 200 meter leg and Bistodeau continued his great sophomore season with a strong 400 meter carry. Coy took the baton a good two seconds behind seventh place, and quickly began what would become the greatest anchor leg of his career. By 200 meters, Coy had caught the seventh-place runner and by the end of the first lap had brought the Rangers into fourth place. In front of Coy, however, was the standout distance runner from Parkston who had already set two all-time state meet records: Alex Muntefering. Coy moved into a decisive second place on the backstretch and was gaining ground on Muntefering each step. Into the homestretch, it was again Coy and Muntefering, separated by just a second now. Parkston crossed the line first with Hill City finishing in second place (for the time being). It was found after the race had ended, that the Parkston team was DQ'd for a lane violation and the Rangers were bumped up one spot- to the top of the podium- and more importantly, ten team points.
The Ranger boys finished a great season with a 6th place finish at the Class A meet; one of the best finishes in Ranger history.
2009 CLASS 'A' BOYS FINAL TEAM SCORES
1 Dell Rapids 90
2 Harrisburg 59
3 Dakota Valley 40
3 Tri-Valley 40
5 Lennox 33
6 Aberdeen Roncalli 32
6 Hill City 32