Track athletes start outdoor season strong

The Chadron State track and field team sent about 30 athletes to the first outdoor meet of the season; competing at the Yellow Jacket Spring Open at Black Hills State University, Spearfish, South Dakota. The Eagles opened the outdoor season with nearly a dozen athletes hitting personal bests.

Distance events shined for the Eagles on the women’s side. Nicky Banzhaf, sophomore of Chadron, was a double-winner, capturing both the 1,500 meter race in 4 minutes, 52.22 seconds and 5,000 in 18:43.89.

Banzhaf felt that the transition from the indoor season to outdoor went well.

“Our first meet back, I felt really strong,” Banzhaf said. “I’m excited to see how the season progresses.”

Banzhaf’s time of 4:52.22 in the 1,500 is a career best. Margaret Vinton, junior of North Platte, finished second in the 5,000 running 19:09.84; and fourth in the 1,500 running 5:03.88. Both marks are career bests for Vinton.

“The 1,500 is a race that is a little far out of my element,” Banzahf said. “I’m generally better as the races get longer. I was really pleased with that time, though. It was a big improvement from my time last year. In the 5k, I’m really hoping to hit good provisional time. Ideally, I want to be around the 17:10 zone.”

Rebecca Volf, senior of Wood River; and Alyse Henry, freshman of Rock Springs, Wyoming; also excelled in the 3,000 steeplechase, finishing first and second, respectively.

The women excelled in field events as well, with three women placing second, respectively, in their events. Angelique Urenda, junior of Pueblo, Colorado, hit a personal best in pole vault clearing 11 feet, 7 3/4 inches, nearly seven inches higher than she’s gone in outdoor. Ashlynn Hanson, sophomore of Seward; and Keri Ruff, junior of Eaton, Colorado, also placed second in hammer throw and discus, respectively. Hanson hit 168-6 in hammer and Ruff reached 140 in discus.

Hanson and Ruff competed in both throwing events. Hanson threw 116-11 in discus, placing fourth. Ruff finished fifth in hammer throw with a distance of 152-1.

On the men’s side, Skyler Hoopes, senior of Lusk, Wyoming, led the way winning the pole vault, clearing 15-7 1/4. Distance also finished high for the men. Alejandro Garcia, senior of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, was a double runner-up in both the 1,500 and 5,000 with times of 3:58.71 and 15:27.99, respectively.

The men placed well in throwing events. They placed second through fourth in shot put, hammer throw, and discus. In shot put, Kyle McCarthy, senior of Aurora, led the way, throwing 53-1, finishing second. Behind McCarthy, redshirt freshmen Blake Jacobs, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; and Cory Martens, of Newton, Kansas, finished third and fourth, respectively.

In discus, Martens finished second, hitting 150-7. Jesse Bleidt, sophomore of Lewellen; and Frantzlee LaCrete, junior of Lewellen, finished third and fourth, respectively, in discus behind Martens.

The men also swept four of the top five spots in hammer throw, finishing second through fifth. Bleidt was the top finisher, claiming second with a throw of 170-1. McCarthy, LaCrete, and Jacobs followed, respectively.

The Eagles are scheduled to compete at two meets this weekend; The San Francisco Distance Carnival, California, on Friday and the Colorado State University-Pueblo Open on Saturday.

Correction notice: In last week’s edition of The Eagle, we published an infographic about the stats of thrower Mel Herl, senior of Eaton, Colorado. Those stats were not current and therefore incorrect. We are sorry for our error and appreciate those that identify them.

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