The Vermillion track and field team went to the state meet this past weekend. Class A competed in Tea on Friday, and all classes competed in Sioux Falls on Saturday.
In Tea on Friday, the Vermillion boys’ 4x800 relay won the gold in 8:17.53 with senior Justin Sorensen, senior Ben Finnegan, sophomore Jakob Dobney, and sophomore Tommy Nikkel.
“I’ve gotten a lot better my senior year than past years, so it’s been fun getting to improve over the season,” said Finnegan.
He is most proud of being on the winning 4x800 relay, which was projected to finish third.
Vermillion’s 4x800 defeated West Central by 1.33 seconds and became the fourth fastest time in Tanager history.
Sorensen said he is proud of what he and his team accomplished at this state meet, especially since last year’s 4x800 finished second in the final stretch against West Central’s former runner who now runs Division I at Wisconsin.
“I’m definitely most proud of winning the 4x800 and placing in both my individual events,” said Sorensen. “And I have actually very much underperformed in my individual events the last two years, so getting over the hump and getting on the podium three times in one meet was pretty special. I’m happy to end my career as a Tanager that way.”
Nikkel also ran the 400-meter dash prelims, finishing sixth in 52.06 to qualify for Saturday’s finals.
Sorensen placed seventh in the 3200 at 10:24.67, earning his first individual medal at state. Sophomore Riley Ruhaak finished 12th in 10:38.74.
The girls’ 4x100 qualified for finals on Saturday by finishing fourth with a season-best of 51.56. The sprinting squad included sophomore Ellie Schroeder, seventh-grader Jaymes Drake, senior Kenna Druecker, and junior Lexi Saunders. They ran the sixth fastest time in Vermillion school history.
Brady qualified for finals in the 400 by finishing eighth in 1:01.83. Brady ran the 800 later in the day and placed 11th in 2:31.39.
Dobney also ran the 800 and placed eighth with a 2:07.26.
The girls’ medley relay just missed finals as they placed ninth in prelims with a 4:37.73 and runners Schroeder, Druecker, sophomore Lilly Johnson, and sophomore Taryn Whisler.
Saunders placed 11th in the long jump with a leap of 15-04.
Vermillion’s boys’ medley finished 12th in prelims at 4:02.56. This squad included junior Brock Voss, junior Evan Rasmussen, Sorensen, and Nikkel.
In the 100 prelims, Druecker tied for 12th at 13.14.
Whisler placed 16th in the 3200 at 12:47.93.
On Saturday in Sioux Falls, the girls’ 4x100 finished fourth in finals with the same squad and a time of 52.02. The relay consisted of the same Schroeder, Drake, Druecker, and Saunders.
“I’ve always been proud of how close of a team we have been in years past and feel this year we have become even closer,” said Druecker. “After the junior high season, some sprinters moved up, and I enjoyed being able to mentor our team’s future.”
She is most proud of coming back from a last season injury and contributing to a fourth-place finish in the 4x100.
“It was a blast working with them this season,” said Druecker.
Sorensen placed fifth in the 1600 with a time of 4:37.03. This was his highest individual placing at state in his high school career.
“The thing that made it most memorable was the fact that I knew it was all coming to an end,” said Sorensen.
He had the mindset that he would not be saddened that each meet was his final time competing at each track.
“I would embrace it and try to end each meet on a positive note, especially at state where I was able to place in both my individual events and flip the script from last year’s 4x800 and be a state champ,” said Sorensen. “Instead of thinking about it, I just felt that I needed to go out and do it.”
Nikkel finished fourth in the 400 with a 52.47.
Brady placed eighth in the 400, crossing the finish at 1:02.43.
“We have always had lots of team and relay success throughout my high school career,” said Brady. “But this year, I had more personal success and was really allowed to see what I could do and got to push myself in more open events.”
Brady is most proud of making the podium at this state meet.
The Tanagers lose two senior girls and six boys moving forward into the 2020 season, but they have some young talent on the rise as well.