Boys looking to repeat as champs
Published: Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
The Custer High School boys track team is on a roll. The Wildcats, the Class A defending state champions and three-time defending Black Hills Conference champions, will be considered by many, if not all, to win both of those titles again this year. The ’Cats did nothing to dispel those beliefs last weekend, when they dominated the competition at last weekend’s Early Bird meet in Douglas, qualifying six for state despite not having some of the team’s better athletes competiting.
“I would hope that we are in the mix at the end in the race for a state title,” head coach Craig Black said. “We did graduate some talented athletes, but we have more coming up through the team.”
Among the returnees is Brennan Witt, the three-time defending state champion in the 800, who also dabbled in—and won at the state meet—the 1600 a year ago.
Another runner who big things will be expected of is Logan Burns, who placed second in the state meet in the 3,200 a year ago, and won the Class A cross country state championship last fall. And, although the team lost double state champion Jared Thomsen to graduation, his younger brother, Joel, will look to grab the Thomsen hurdling torch and make things happen at the state meet this season.
As always, the boys relay teams will be strong, as the 1600, 3200 and medley relay teams should all be among the state favorites again this year. Helping in those races will be Chase Glazier, who also runs the open 400 and 800, Israel Parsons, who runs the open 800, Witt, Thomsen and sprinters Kenneth Myers and Clayton Wahlstrom.
Wahlstrom will also be among the state favorites in the pole vault, having finished as runner-up in the event a year ago. David Sigdestad and Sam Mertz are two other pole vaulters who competed at the state meet a year ago. Adam Baker placed in the triple jump at state a year ago and the team returns Logan Heuer in the discus, another state placer last year.
“I feel we are off to a good start, as we have had some fair weather, along with the not-so-fair,” Black said. “I feel very pleased in that the athletes have been working very hard and it will show.”
There are around 60 athletes on the team this year, and Black attributes some of the enthusiasm about being on the team to the recent success the teams have had, especially the boys state championship last year.
“I think we have a few more athletes due to the win last year at state for the boys, but also can see it in everyone’s workout, knowing what they are capable of,” he said.
Despite the team’s success last year and a bevy of returning state placewinners, Black said he doesn’t necessarily think the Custer boys have a target on their backs.
“I don’t feel a target in that every year is a new start,” he said. “Each team loses and adds athletes and strengths on a team will change from year to year.”
On the girls side of the equation, the team will be led by eighth grader Tori Glazier, who won both the 800 and 1600 state championships a year ago. Other returning runners who are expected to contribute and ran on state placewinning relay teams last year are Matti Kelley, Desintee Fish, Julianne Thomsen, Jazmin Hitshew and Billie Wicks.
“We will pick up some points in the hurdles and mid-distance and distance races and relays for our girls,” Black said. “I think that will be some of our strongest areas.”
Black said the St. Thomas More girls, the defending state champions, have a good shot at repeating as both conference and state champions. Sturgis and Spearfish are two other teams to keep an eye on, he said. He said he isn’t ready to predict where his girls will finish in the conference race.
“I think it will come down to who takes which points when you get to the conference race and that is a little early to tell right now,” he said.
Black said with both teams working hard, the teams just need to stay healthy for things to fall into place when May rolls around.
“Health plays a big role in the end,” he said. “We really have a great bunch of hard working athletes that are fun to be around. That’s what makes the season enjoyable.”
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