Men’s and Women’s Track and Field finish third at Summit Indoor



By Robert Myers Sports Reporter

The SDSU men’s and women’s track and field teams boasted their best point totals in more than four years as they cruised to third place finishes in the Summit League Indoor Championships over the weekend. 

“We probably exceeded what we could score point-wise which was good to see,” said Head Coach Rod DeHaven. “Some people stepped up and as a coaching staff I think we know that is what we need to do start closing the gaps on the two programs that are ahead of us.”

Redshirt senior Ashley Odegaard became the surprise of the meet when she won the long jump via her 19-feet-1.5 jump, the third best distance in Summit League Championship history.

Odegaard came into Friday with the third best distance among the Jackrabbit jumpers as an injury early in the season kept her from jumping until the previous two meets. 

For Odegaard, the victory also meant coming full circle. Originally recruited as a jumper, Odegaard ended up primarily a sprinter in college, only previously garnering one career victory in the long jump. 

“It was one of the better feelings in my college track career,” Odegaard said. “I was actually recruited to SDSU to be a long jumper. … Winning this was not only huge for me but it was huge for my coach. Coach [David] St. John was thrilled and it was almost like I proved to him why he recruited me.”

By choosing to redshirt last year to finish her career in SJAC, Odegaard has one last go around and so far she is more than satisfied and is looking for bigger things in the outdoor season.

“More than worth it,” Odegaard said about coming back for a fifth year. “I redshirted all of last year so I could run in the indoor facility and it was the best decision I ever made and I would be kicking myself if I missed out on the opportunity not only to train at our new facility but also have our meets there, to meet there and be with my team for one more year.”

Odegaard also finished with a personal best in the 200-meter dash and just hundredths of a second from a personal best in the 60-meter dash despite battling an illness.

“We got a new coach [Luke Leischner] after Christmas break,” Odeagaard said. “He has been absolutely the best thing to ever happen to our team and so our training has changed and I think it has bettered us in the 200 which showed in my improvements in the 200 as well as Carly [Carper]’s.”

Meanwhile, in the high jump Mary Wirth elevated herself above the competition, winning by four inches. Wirth also secured a spot in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championsips in Arkansas on March 13th and 14th. 

Other wins for the women came courtesy of Marissa Hagedorn in the 60-meter hurdles and Carly Carper in the 60-meter dash. Carper also took third in the 200-meter dash. 

Jazzelena Black finished with all-conference honors in the triple jump, while the distance medley relay team of Samantha Anderson, Sandra Gramer, Whitlee Larson and Karley Konkol took second and the 4X400 – meter relay team of Lori Foltz, Jacleen Patterson, Gramer and Gina Fritz came in third.

“The women’s mile, 4X400 – meter relay – that was an exceptional effort,” DeHaven said. “It nearly broke the school record. At the end of a long two days, for that group to get out there and get after was very impressive.”

Overall the women finished with their highest points total since 2009.

“We were only expected to score 89 points and we ended up scoring 114,” Odegaard said. 

On the men’s side, Jeremiah Ary bounced back from a disappointing performance in the long jump to win the triple jump with the second best distance of career despite only having 15 minutes to warm up.

“Just coming out and doing what I’m supposed to do and winning it is a great feeling,” Ary said. “I’m pretty happy with how far I jumped for only having 15 minutes to warm up when I usually take an hour.”

Ary won the event by over two feet, his closest competitor being fellow Jackrabbit J.J. Hejna who set a new personal record in the event.

“I was so proud of J.J. and what he could do,” Ary said. “He wasn’t supposed to score and he ended up second so I was very proud of him. … In practice we’ll push each other even harder for outdoor and hopefully one or both of us can get to Texas and make it to regionals.”

Joel Reichow earned all-conference honors in three events, placing third in the mile, 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs.

The men also found success in the 800-meter run where Ayub Kassim and Cal Lawton finished second and third respectively.

Zach Kooseman earned a top-three individual finish, coming in second in the high jump with a jump of 6-feet-7.

The 4X400-meter relay team of Marc Husman, Sam Johnson, Carson and Adam Belhaj finished second and the distance medley team of Daniel Pettit, Justin Carson, Dylan Slaba and Grant VanKeulen crossed the line third to round out the list of all conference athletes.

Even though they could not knock North Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota out of the top two spots, the Jackrabbits did finish with their highest points total since 2011 and look to put increased pressure on their rivals in the coming years.

“Hopefully we’ll be in contention for the championship in years to come,” Ary said. “Rod is just doing a great job at putting the team together and recruiting better athletes. The new facility is really helping us train harder and get better.”

Going forward into the outdoor season, DeHaven is optimistic that his teams will only get better as added events will suit their strengths and athletes return from injuries.