The dreams of Jimmy Smith in his senior year on the Heart River track and field team are different than most kids his age. Smith, the defending Class B state champion in the high jump, doesn't deny his desire for another state title. "My mindset ...
The dreams of Jimmy Smith in his senior year on the Heart River track and field team are different than most kids his age.
Smith, the defending Class B state champion in the high jump, doesn't deny his desire for another state title.
"My mindset is anything less than another championship is a disappointment to me," Smith said.
However, it's his aspirations for another high-water mark that drives his intent.
"My ultimate goal is to break the school record," Smith said. "It's a big goal and I'm training hard to get there."
Held by South Heart's Travis Huschka at 6 feet, 7 inches, the school record is certainly within reach, Smith said. His career-best is 6-4 and three more inches means Smith has a chance at leaving a legacy.
"I've always wanted to have my name up on that board (at school)," Smith said. "To be able to come back years later and know I did that ... I'll always have that (state medal), but to have that record, it's something different.
"People don't remember you won the state championship, but when you walk into the school and they see your name, they know who you are."
Smith also does the long jump, and he's even decided to try out the 110-meter hurdles.
"Long jump isn't my best event, but it does help with the explosion," Smith said. "I do have a goal to qualify (for state) in the 110s."
Though he's trying to become a well-rounded track and field athlete, the high jump is still his bread and butter.
"I think I'm definitely going to qualify at every meet," Smith said. "Six-two is probably the minimum I'm hoping to go for. I'd love to be in that 6-3, 6-4 range. All it takes is one really good day and I can get that 6-7."
Defending state champion Hazen returns a host of athletes including junior Brent Sorensen, who placed on two relays and also finished sixth in the 400 at state. The Bison have distance runner Jordan Cieslak coming back as well. Now a senior, Cieslak placed in both the 1,600 and 3,200 relays, taking fourth and fifth, respectively. Senior Andrew Karges returns after taking fifth in the 800.
Killdeer senior Gabe Fettig placed twice at state, earning a fourth-place finish in the 800 and sixth in the 1,600. Returning placers from the area in the sprints include Glen Ullin-Hebron senior Levi Hoff (seventh in 100) and Beulah senior Nate Weidrich (sixth in 200).
In the hurdles, Mott-Regent junior Luke Honeyman stands out after placing in both events at state. He took sixth in the 300 and eighth in the short hurdles.
Killdeer's Garrett Houghton comes back as Class B's top returner in the pole vault. He finished second at state with a vault of 12-6. Richardton-Taylor senior Jadon Messer is the top returning triple jumper in all of Class B. He took third at state last season with a leap of 42-1½. He's also the second best returning finisher in the long jump as his 20-8 mark finished fifth.
Can Bowman County girls repeat?
The Bulldogs hit the high point of their season last May by capturing top honors at state.
Though valuable pieces to its championship run graduated, Bowman County still has plenty to work with. Junior Anne Duletski placed in the 100 and 200 as a freshman, and finished second in both last season. She returns as the top finisher in the 100.
"She had a lot of success last year and she's developed a lot of hunger for more," first-year coach Jon Jahner said of Duletski, who also anchored the state's best 400 relay.
"It's pretty easy for a kid with the year she had to be somewhat complacent. She's not at all. She wants nothing but the best. She works hard for it."
The Bulldogs lost Abby Nasset to graduation, but return distance runners Megan Naico and Lisa Swanson, and sprinter Jenna Olson.
"To repeat at state, we're going to need some young girls to step up," Jahner said. "We have a great nucleus of young runners. The relays are going to be strong for us. ... We have to find some girls to step up and we've got some in the program."
Hazen junior Allison Opp should have a busy spring on the track and in the field.
She placed third in the 100 hurdles and is the top Class B returner while taking fourth in the long hurdles behind teammate Breaunna Oakland. Oakland, a sophomore, finished in third and comes back as the state's best finisher. Opp is also the top returner in the triple jump where she placed second last May. She took fifth in the long jump.
Richardton-Taylor senior Kaylee Stein placed seventh in the discus at state.
But thanks to heavy losses to graduation, she's one of the top two returners in the event. Other area state placers who are looking to improve on their marks are Killdeer junior Shalee Dolezal (seventh in pole vault) and Beulah junior Kelsey Kraft, who took eighth in the 400.