Tommy Nikkel

Sophomore Tommy Nikkel takes off for a state-qualifying time in the 400.

The Vermillion track and field team hosted the VHS Early Bird Invitational last Thursday, April 4.

“Hosting a home meet is always wonderful,” said head coach Lenni Billberg. “It allows more fans to watch our athletes but gives us a chance to compete on some home ground. Luckily for us, that home ground is one of the fastest tracks in the nation.”

The girls’ finished third overall with 71 points, behind Sioux City North and Beresford.

Senior Justin Sorensen placed third in the 3200 and qualified for state with a time of 10:19.62. He beat the qualifying time by nearly seven seconds. Sorensen was also part of the 4x800 squad that qualified in the first meet of the season.

He is the third to qualify in an individual event alongside sophomore Tommy Nikkel and junior Lexi Saunders.

“We always hope for early qualifications but never expect them as our training is geared toward peaking in May, but we have some really gifted athletes on our team, and they will continue to impress all year,” said coach Billberg. “To have Tommy in the 400, Justin in the 3200, and Lexi in the long jump already is a gift to us and allows us to focus on other events and relays.”

Sophomore Riley Ruhaak also ran the 3200, placing fifth and clocking in at 10:46.08.

Senior Kenna Druecker won the 100-meter dash with a 13.54. Sophomore Ellie Schroeder placed third at 13.85.

The two also finished third and fourth in the 200. Druecker was third with a 28.98, and Schroeder placed fourth with 29.22.

Senior Rachel Brady earned the gold in the 400 with a time of 1:03.50. Brady placed second in the 800 with a 2:33.77.

Sophomore Taryn Whisler finished second in the 3200 at 12:45.73. Whisler also placed third in the 1600 with a 5:51.21.

Saunders finished third in the long jump with a distance of 15-4. Senior Fatima Alemam placed fourth with a 14-10 leap.

Freshman Lilly Johnson finished fifth in the triple jump at 29-11. Saunders was sixth at 29-5.5.

In the boys’ 200, junior Brock Voss tied for fifth at 25.04.

Nikkel earned the gold in the 400 with a time of 52.56. He also won the 800 by three-fourths of a second. He crossed the finish line at 2:10.03, just ahead of Tea Area’s senior Wilson Hoffman.

Sophomore Hunter Lavin also ran the 800 and placed sixth in a tight race, finishing with a time of 2:13.46.

The Tanagers will head to the Lennox Invitational this Thursday with the meet beginning at 4 p.m. Their next meet will be on Tuesday at the Tea Area Invite at 4 p.m.


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