Split squad works for SDSU track

Spencer Chase


The divide and conquer approach paid dividends for the SDSU track and field teams as they competed in both the Arkansas Spring Invitational and Wayne State Classic events to close out the month of March.

Brooke Garner led the way for the Jacks competing at the Wayne State Classic in Wayne, Neb. by winning both the women’s discus and hammer throw events. Garner’s hammer throw performance broke the school record by nearly 10 feet and likely earned her a spot in the NCAA first round meet in Austin, Texas.

“Brooke is probably in the top 10 in the nation in (the hammer throw),” said Rod DeHaven, head track and field coach. “There was such a big group of throwers that they started at about 10 (a.m.) and weren’t done until 8 (p.m.), so that’s almost 10 hours of competing. For Brooke to throw that well under those circumstances is really impressive.”

DeHaven also mentioned that the sudden arrival of 85 degree heat was “interesting,” but the Jacks were able to turn in several personal bests as well as make some noise with the school record book in the process.

Amy Paulzine had the top throw in the women’s javelin and recorded the fourth-best throw in the history of SDSU in the event. Jake Brinkmann placed second and third, respectively, in the men’s hammer throw and discus.

Several athletes chose to compete at the Arkansas Spring Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., instead of the Wayne State Classic and thus faced a higher level of competition. This competition made it harder to place in events, but several Jackrabbits were still able to make the top eight.

For the women, Tera Potts finished in second place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with the fourth-best time in school history. Mary Wirth placed fifth in the high jump.

The men were highlighted by a third-place finish from Jared Ailts in the 1500-meter run, a fourth place finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase from Greg Vollmer, and fifth and seventh-place finishes in the 800-meter run from Dominic Thielen and Jake Schneller, respectively.

Jared Vlastuin recorded a personal best in the high jump and had the fourth best leap in school history. DeHaven said that Vlastuin’s jump will likely put him into postseason contention.

“Jared likely put himself in at least the NCAA Regionals with that jump, and he’ll probably progress as the year goes on.” DeHaven said.

The Jacks will return to action at the USD Duals on Friday, April 6 in Yankton.

As the season progresses, DeHaven said that it will be important for the Jacks to continue in a state of upward progression even though travel and the stress of competition can begin to take it’s toll on the athletes.

“When you think about it, there’s a potential for 22 road trips when you factor in cross country and then indoor and outdoor seasons in the spring,” DeHaven said. “We have to keep in mind that through all our training and competing, the goal is to be running at our best in mid-May, not the beginning of April.”