For the first time, Dickinson State junior Lexee Craig cleared 3.5 meters in pole vault.
As she hit the mat and bobbling bar remained on its perch, Craig's teammates and coach nearby began an assembly line of hugs, congratulating the Wyoming native on the accomplishment. Not only did the personal-best mark solidify Craig as the winner in women's pole vault at the North Star conference meet, but it booked her a trip to the national meet as she hit the 'B' qualifying standard.
Craig's victory helped the Blue Hawks hold first place after the first day of the NSAA meet at the Biesiot Activities Center on Thursday, May 9.
"A lot of meets, our coaches can't be (with you) because they have to work, so I had my coach here and I had a huge support group, so I think that that helps a lot," Craig said. "Just a few tweaks, and it gets there."
Craig is one of three Blue Hawk women that has the chance to travel to the NAIA meet in Gulf Shores, Ala. Across the road, Dickinson State sophomore Alyssa Wisher hit the 'A' standard while taking the gold medal in the javelin. Wisher had previously hit the 'B' standard and by moving up, she opens up a slot for another potential 'B' qualifier to make the trip.
As the meet continues on Friday, there are a few women who could meet the required mark.
"Kadara (Marshall) in the long jump's got a shot, our 100-meter dasher Megan Erickson has got a shot as well," Wittkopp said. "Don't count out Taylor Ludwig (in the 400). She is in phenomenal shape, she's gonna be in a pretty fast heat with a girl to push her."
Marshal won triple jump, but the junior still disappointed with her performance, as she missed the qualifying mark.
"I've done it this season, but I just scratched the marks that I needed," Marshall said. "It just hurts that much more because I did what I needed to do, I just didn't do it today."
"I got the points for the team, that's what matters," she added."
The team of Lisa Townsend, Bailey Smith, Emily Kuehn and Jacey Wilson picked up 10 more key points for the team in dominant fashion, winning the 4x800-meter relay.
Their male counterparts also won the 4x800, finishing with a season-best time of 8:00.17, just 15 seconds off of the 'A' qualifying standard.
Tymer Goss was the first leg of the relay team, running a 1:59 split.
"(I was) just sticking with the front guy and making sure we're in a good position," Goss said. "Not running for time necessarily, trying to give the baton off to the second-place guy in as good a position as we could be and not lose too much ground."
Goss' tactic proved successful.
Valley City State was in first, but a botched first handoff allowed Dickinson State's second leg, Danny Ramirez, to take over the top spot after receiving the handoff from Tymer Goss.
The third leg, Dakota Mansfield, got the baton a few seconds shy of the four minute mark.
Anchor Tristen Guillot ran hard from start to finish, but still had about 100 meters to go as the qualifying standard appeared on the clock.
Nonetheless, the team was thrilled with their performance.
"It went as good as it could have. We all ran our hardest," Guillot said. "I'm happy with the results."
The men lead after day one with 67 points, while Dakota State is just two points behind in second. Ahead of the final event of the evening, Dickinson State was in third and Valley City State was ahead, but a strong pole vault performance put the Blue Hawks in front.
Sophomore Hoyt Zander won pole vault with a height of 4.25 meters, with senior Tommy Sease taking third.
Additionally, junior Paxton Miller hit the 'B' standard in javelin. The Blue Hawks have more than their maximum three qualified at the 'B' level, so unless people improve on their marks, not all qualifiers will be able to go to Alabama later in the month, and they only have Friday to do so.
"We're gonna have to figure out what we're gonna do here moving forward," Wittkopp said. "Hopefully we can get a couple other kids to hit the A so we can take everybody."
North Star Athletic Conference Meet: Day one
Men's team scores: 1, Dickinson State 67. 2, Dakota State 63. 3, Valley City State 55. 4, Waldorf 27. 5, Bellevue 2.
Women's team scores: 1, Dickinson State 75. 2, Dakota State 54. 3, Valley City State 39. 4, Waldorf 26. 5, Viterbo 18.