he 2008 South Dakota State Track Meet is a thing of the past, but the Ranger track and field athletes produced performances
that will be remembered for years to come. In the 64 team Class A field, the boy’s came out in the Top 10, finishing
7th as a team. The Lady Rangers placed 15th in the team race, scoring 20 points to far exceed pre-meet expectations.
The track action kicked off Friday as the Rangers traveled to Madison to compete under cloudy skies and typically strong winds.
The conditions, although far from favorable, had no effect on the determined Rangers.
The girls 4x800 meter relay team, who came into the meet with the 7th best time in Class A set the tone for the meet in the
first running event. Mariah Asheim opened up the race with a strong lead-off leg, handing off to Alise Kelting in 2nd place.
Kelting then posted a near season best time in the trying conditions. Stephanie Qualm ran the 3rd leg and her fearless style
of running gained valuable ground on the competition, as she handed the baton off to Jessica McDonald in great position.
McDonald showed tremendous determination on the last straight as she held her ground to help the girls to a 4th place finish.
Next on the track was Jacob Allen in the 110 meter hurdle prelims. Allen’s race started out with a false start, enough
to shake any athlete, but Allen bolted through the finish line on the restart in a time that qualified him for the finals.
In the finals, Allen ran a technically superb race and sprinted through the tape just fractions of a second out of 4th place,
finishing 5th in 15.65. Colton McLaughlin ran in his first state meet and did quite well, finishing 5th in his preliminary
heat. McLaughlin looks to be a force in the hurdles next season.
The boys 4x800 relay team of Hudson Koel, Andy Quenzer, Adrian Salinas and Andy Coy stepped onto the track next. 8 minutes
and 24 seconds later they left as state champions. Koel led off the race with an outstanding lead leg and left the closest
runner a distant 3 seconds back as he handed the baton to Quenzer. Quenzer ran an intelligent 2nd leg, putting the Rangers
within striking distance of Redfield, who was leading the race. Next, Salinas took the baton next and went out very hard
on the first lap to catch the Refdfield runner. Salinas continued on and passed the baton to Coy in 4th place and 6 seconds
off the lead. Coy ran an inspiring anchor leg, running 56 seconds flat on the first lap to catch two runners and move the
Rangers into second place. Then, with 150 meters to go, Coy passed Lennox’s final leg and stumbled across the finish
line, exhausted, to complete the win.
The discus featured two Hill City throwers, who both placed well ahead of their rankings. Stephanie Burleson threw her best
throw of the year and placed 10th, just missing out on the finals in the discus. Burleson was one of the few athletes that
competed in both throwing events and also placed in the Top 15 in the shot put with another consistent 33+ foot throw. For
the boys, Trevor Rossknecht was clutch as he finished far ahead of his 15th place ranking to finish 10th with a 132’
throw in the discus. Rossknecht and Burleson are both seniors and had outstanding years in the throws.
The girls 400 meter preliminary race had Jessica McDonald running a fantastic race and winning her heat, thus automatically
cementing her spot in the finals. In the 400 meter finals the next day, McDonald ran an amazing race, breaking the 60 second
barrier (59.90) and finishing with the bronze medal.
The Lady Ranger’s 1600m Medley relay team of Kayla McDonald, Jessica McDonald, Mariah Asheim and Stephanie Qualm ran
an exceptional race and just missed out on qualifying for the finals, finishing in 10th place overall. The boy’s 1600m
Medley relay team ran next, with Jacob Allen, Salinas, Chance Clason and Clint Lewis racing in the first heat. The boys missed
out on qualifying, but should be proud of their outstanding efforts as the boys put in an outstanding effort.
Andy Coy and Hudson Koel ran in the 800 meters just following the medley relays. The 800 meter race went out at a pedestrian
pace for the first lap, with no athlete wanting to take the lead and risk being the wind block for all of the other runners.
Coy and Koel then joined the field in a sprint to the finish in the final 300 meters. Coy ended up in 3rd place and Koel
6th to make the medal stand for the second straight year.
In the 1600 meter run, the Ranger’s showed great strength, with three runners finishing in the Top 6 in South Dakota.
In the girls race, Stephanie Qualm ran a smart and patient race and the blew past five runners in the final 150 meters to
steal 5th place and make her first of many individual appearances on the medal stand. In the boys 1600 meters, Hudson Koel
set the pace for the field and led for just over 3 laps. Andy Coy was in the lead pack as well as the two Hill City runners
battled in the final lap with 5 others. Coy ended up in 5th place and right behind him was Koel in the 6th spot.
The boy’s 4x400 relay team of John Bintliff, Quenzer, Salinas and Chance Clason ran the final race of the first day
for the boys and did not advance to the finals. For Bintliff, Quenzer and Salinas, this was the final race of their high
Although fatigued from all of the other races and the weather from the first day of action, the girls 4x400 meter relay team
of Asheim, K. McDonald, S. Qualm and J. McDonald ran an excellent mile relay, placing 7th in the preliminary rounds to advance
to the finals. During the finals in Sioux Falls, however, was where the girls really worked their magic. Heading into the
finals with the 7th seed, the girls crushed two teams ranked ahead of them and finished 4th to close out a great season for
the Ranger tracksters.
The Rangers closed out a fantastic year. The coaching staff is very proud of the way all of the student/athletes competed
during the season. Check out www.heartofthehillsrunningclub.com for pictures and results from the season.