Tracksters bring strong competition, set records

Kirk Danielson

Kirk Danielson

The SDSU track and field team is shifting gears and hoping for sunny days as they open their outdoor season this weekend at the Missouri Relays in Columbia, Mo. With 36 men and 44 women, the teams combine to form one of the biggest varsity teams on campus.

The women’s team is looking to build on the success of their indoor season, and the excitement echoes in the words of Head Coach Rod DeHaven.

“On the women’s side, we were very successful, we set nine school records on four different occasions, and basically broke every school running record there is. This is probably the best women’s track team we’ve had at SDSU since the early ’90s.” DeHaven said.

One of the standout performers from the indoor season is junior Cameryn Christion from Parker. Christion had an outstanding indoor track season, setting SDSU school records in the 60-, 200-, 300- and 400- meter running events. To open the season, Christion broke the school record in the 60-meter run with a time of 7.75 seconds. She proceeded to break her own record in that event two more times, posting runs of 7.74 and 7.68 seconds.

Senior Becka Mansheim, Brookings, helped set three new SDSU indoor records, with individual school records in the 1,000- and 3,000- meter runs. Mansheim joined Danielle Burke, Brittany Garner and Stacy Huss as part of the distance medley team that set a new school record, finishing in 11:45.84.

Huss, a sophomore from Fort Pierre, also set an individual school record in the 600-meter run with a time of 1:40.69.

“We’re blessed with a lot of good athletes. On the women’s side, it’s one of the better teams we’ve had at SDSU in a long time, and on the men’s side, we’re pretty young and getting better and better,” DeHaven said.

DeHaven is looking for strong showings from the men in a number of events. Senior Zach Wirth and junior Nick Schanaman bring experience to the team in the hurdling events, and sophomore pole-vaulter Tyler Schiferl is looking to build on a good indoor season. Camden Helder, a sophomore from Volga, also has tall goals.

“Cam’s a high jumper (who) could potentially go 6-8 or 6-9 feet outdoors this year. He’s 6-foot-9 anyway, so he’s gotta jump over himself. That’s a huge deal for him,” DeHaven said.

As the men and women move their practice outdoors, one group who really benefits is the throwers.

“It’s nice to get outside. I like it a lot better than throwing into a net right in front of you. Practicing outside, you get a better feel for every event that you’re doing.” freshman Sam McInerney, a landscape architecture major from Elk Point, said.

McInerney will compete for the first time in the hammer throw and javelin this spring, both new events for him since high school. His advice on throwing the javelin: “Keep the javelin straight.”

Throwing coach Jessica Sommerfeld described throwing the hammer, “It’s a shot-put that’s on a four-foot long cable, and you whip it around your head and turn four times in a shot-put ring,” she said.

“All of our freshmen and sophomores have never thrown the hammer, so that’s a new event that we’re doing.” said Sommerfeld. “We’re a young team and practicing outside has made it a lot easier. They’ve improved a lot because we’ve got a lot more time to put in for the events.”

SDSU will take about 60 athletes to the outdoor season opener this weekend.

“The Missouri Relays open our outdoor season this weekend and we’re hoping for some nice weather, and we’ll see what the prize in the box is, like Cracker Jacks,” said DeHaven.

The track and field teams will follow up the Missouri Relays when they compete in the Vance Butler Invitational on April 6 in Sioux Falls.