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Southwest Region Track and Field Preview - Part 2

The 2018 Southwest region track and field season belonged to Dickinson Trinity. After the Titans swept the regional meet, the boys and girls teams carried that momentum in the state meet, the girls squad earned a tie for fourth place while the bo...

Bowman County junior Jacob Svihovec competes in one of the jumping events during the 2018 Southwest Regional meet on Saturday, May 19, from the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon/The Dickinson Press)
Bowman County junior Jacob Svihovec competes in one of the jumping events during the 2018 Southwest Regional meet on Saturday, May 19, from the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon/The Dickinson Press)

The 2018 Southwest region track and field season belonged to Dickinson Trinity.

After the Titans swept the regional meet, the boys and girls teams carried that momentum in the state meet, the girls squad earned a tie for fourth place while the boys captured their fourth state title in school history.

Dickinson Trinity is expected to be among the state's elite again in 2019, but possibly joining them as contenders are a group of programs hailing out of the Southwest.

The Killdeer High School girls team returns six competitors from a team that finished sixth at state last season. That group is highlighted by seniors Shawnee Hansen and Steena Larsen.

Hansen competed in four events last year, earning fourth in the 200-meter dash while Larsen captured the state title in the discus throw. She also state-qualified in the javelin during her first year as a thrower.

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"Steena's got a 'Yup, I was good, but I can be better,' attitude," Killdeer girls head coach Janis Harris said. "It takes a lot to ruffle her feathers. She can have a good day and then she can have a bad day, but blow off that bad day. ... She (said), 'last year was great, but I think I can throw further. That wasn't quite good enough.' That's really going to push her."

Harris believes all of her seniors exhibit Larsen's attitude. It's that same kind of leadership that was paramount in the group that came before them as the program will have to do without six graduating state-qualifiers from a year ago.

"I still have high expectations for my girls, but we lost a lot of seniors," Harris said. A lot of the girls that went to state last year were my seniors and they, of course, are gone, but they left a pretty good legacy of work ethic and what it feels like to be at state. ... So my numbers are down, but the kids that I do have experience competing pretty hard and going to state."

Killdeer's boys team has to fill some voids due to graduation as well, losing four state competitors. As a result, that has shifted the team's strong point.

"I would say that our middle-distance (runners) is probably going to be a strength for us," Cowboys boys head coach Andy Murphy said. "Over the past couple of years, our throwers have been a strength, but I think with the kids that have graduated, we now have a nice distance to mid-distance program."

Freshmen Jace Andersen and Owen Duttenhefner are the 'rock' of the Cowboys' middle-distance efforts. Competing in the 3,200-meter run as eighth-graders last year, the duo claimed finishes of 15th and 23rd at state, respectively.

As for the upperclassmen, senior Kacen Gartner figures to pace Killdeer on the track while senior Dylan Tabor looks to make up for a disappointing showing at state in the javelin.

"To be honest, he choked at state. He threw three out of bounds, he didn't make the finals and didn't even make a mark at state," Murphy said. "So I think he's on a mission this year to get back to what he was doing last year so he can focus up and have a successful state track meet. It's kind of been a new Dylan this track season, because he was very upset about what happened last year."

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After the boys team finished in ninth overall and the girls took 17th at state in 2018, Bowman County features nine upperclassmen amongst the team's 15 state returners.

"I'm excited about the upperclassmen that we have. They have been excellent for us for a long time now, but I'm really excited about the growth and maturity of our underclassmen," Bulldogs head coach Jonathan Jahner said. "We've got some freshmen that are going to fill some roles on the team. We got a couple of new kids out that are really going to strengthen and add some depth for us."

Jahner says developing depth is more of a point of emphasis for the girls. The team does bring back eighth grader Paysha Rex, who competed in the 1,600 and 3,200 run, as well as sophomore Esmeralda Madrigal and Jenna Bucholz, who were members of the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.

They are juxtaposed to the senior presence of Ellie Stafford, who had the best individual finish of the returning girls state competitors, taking seventh in the high jump.

Meanwhile, the boys laid claim to best team result, earning state-runner up in the 4x800 relay. That team featured sophomores Caleb Duffield, Brian Miller and senior Alex Madrigal.

In the field events, the Bulldogs are led by senior Adam Powell, who was fourth last year in the long jump, and junior Jacob Svihovec, who finished with the same result in the triple jump.

Svihovec is already off to a good start in 2019, state qualifying in the triple jump during the Baker Meet on March 29, in Glendive, Mont.

"It was nice to be able to go to Glendive and just see where we're at," Jahner said. "It was just a start for us to get some marks and build off of that."

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For some schools in the area, their first meet will be at Bowman County on April 9. That includes Richardton-Taylor, who is eager to step outside and shake off the winter rust.

"I think we are ready to get going, it's been a long spring," Raiders head coach Shawn Alder said. "A couple of meets got canceled, but the kids are anxious and ready to get started."

This year, Alder will be without Nathan Schwartz. Participating in four events at state last, the Richardton-Taylor graduate was seventh in the 400-meter dash at state in 2018. Sophomore Owen Voigt also competed in the event, as well as the long jump.

Voigt, the team's lone state returner from a year ago, will take his talent to the hurdles.

"He's such a good 400 runner at that middle distance, and he's such a good long jumper, we thought to put the two together and you got the 300 hurdles," Alder said. "It's a long run, plus he is using his athleticism to jump over hurdles. ... I think the 300 hurdles is going to be his best event."

The Raiders have another strong performer in the 300 hurdles in junior Katya Baranko, who raced to sixth at state last season. She, along with sophomore Skylar Crow, are the focal points, in both the field and on the track, of a girls team that finished 20th overall.

Capturing a pair of top-eight finishes in the 100 and 200 dashes, Crow picked up her best result in the long jump, placing third. Elsewhere, Baranko collected a seventh-place finish in the long jump.

"Katya Baranko and Skylar Crow, they lead the way," Alder said. "They both qualified for multiple events last year and they bring a ton of experience ... Those two are kind of our anchors, they look to qualify in three or four events."

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