EYES ON HISTORY
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
The Menno High School girls made history last week when they won the first region track championship in school history.
The Wolves hope to catch lightning again this weekend at O’Harra Stadium and return to their community with a top-five finish in Class B, which would be another first for these breakout Wolves.
“I think they can do it,” said athletic director Jacque Liebl, who was going to accompany the team to Rapid City but lost her spot to the larger-than-expected contingent of Wolves taking part in the 2021 State B Track Meet, which begins Friday afternoon, May 28 and concludes the following day. “Things have to go well, of course, but this is a great group of kids and they’ll be ready to compete.”
Ryan Liebl, who coaches the girls, shares the same feelings as his mom.
“I’m expecting a good showing; we’re ranked pretty high in a lot of things,” he said. “They just have to stay focused on not letting the big event get to them.”
The Wolves are led by a trio of standouts who have posted top performances all season long — junior Raygen Diede in the weights, senior Jesse Munkvold in the hurdles and senior Morgan Edelman in the pole vault and the 800.
Diede, who this season set the school record in both the discus and the shot put, has the top Class B throw in the discus at 125-07 and is coming in third in the shot put at 38-04. Munkvold is ranked third in the 100 hurdles with a 16.24 clocking and sixth in the 300 hurdles at 49.75, while Edelman is tied with two others for the top spot in the pole vault at 9-0 and is fifth in the 800 with a season-best 2:27.74.
Ryan Liebl says those leaders have the drive to peak at the right time.
“They’re all very capable of it; I’ve seen how hard they’ve worked,” said the coach. “Raygen has spent a lot of time in the weight room, Jesse has worked harder than ever, and Morgan is Morgan. Because I know these kids and I’ve seen how hard they’ve worked, what they have done this season doesn’t surprise me.”
The Menno girls will be represented by others this weekend, too. Ashton Massey has had a strong spring on the track and will join Munkvold in the 100 hurdles; the freshman comes into the field positioned 11th with a time of 16.87. Sophomore Alana Fergen will join Diede in the discus, bringing a top throw of 107-2 into the competition — 14th in the field.
The Wolves will also be represented by three relays: The sprint medley, 4×400 and 4×800.
The medley team of Kaelie Derby, Munkvold, Massey and Edelman has the best shot at a top-eight finish, coming in eighth with a season-best time of 4:32.78. Less than two seconds separates the Wolves’ eighth spot in the field with Jones County’s fourth.
Menno’s 1600-meter relay team of Massey, Munkvold, Derby and Edelman will take the track as the 13th seed with a 4:24.82 clocking while the 3200-meter relay team of Massey, Carly Herrboldt, Ellyana Ulmer and Julia Buechler comes in 24th at 10:54.07.
Anna Kludt, Kaylie Schempp and Bridget Vaith are alternates for the Wolves.
Even if everything goes Menno’s way, the Wolves aren’t likely to keep up with a loaded Colman-Egan squad that is bringing 19 to Rapid City and holds the top spot in six events and is top-three in seven others. And Dell Rapids St. Mary is positioned for a strong finish in the team standings, too, with three top-of-the-field performances and five others that are top-four.
But Ryan Liebl believes that a top-six finish is plausible, a top-five finish is well within reach and a top-three finish possible if everything aligns.
“It would have to go our way, but you can’t count anything out at state,” he said. “It would be nice if it happened.”
Regardless of how it all turns out, the coach is hoping for a fun finish to what has been a banner season for the Menno girls.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “With good leaders and younger kids who idolize the older ones, everybody works hard. That makes our job easy.”
And his message to the team as they head west?
“Go in and have some fun,” Liebl says. “Make the most of it.”
The Menno boys
On the other side of the gender, Menno sophomore Owen Eitemiller is tied for the top incoming performance in the pole vault with a season-best 12-6 and senior Brady Fergen will represent the Wolves in four individual events: the 110 hurdles (13th, 16.48), high jump (tied for 20th, 5-8), pole vault (6th, 11-6) and 300 hurdles (12th, 43.17).
The Menno boys will also compete in the 4×800 relay as Julius Carr, Cody Munkvold, Chris Kessler and Kadeyn Ulmer go into the race 15th with a 9:01.56 clocking.
The Wolves’ sprint medley relay team includes Austin Pillsbury, Weston Freier, Eitemiller and Ulmer, although alternate Brandon Ahalt may take part depending on how the week goes, said Ken Bruckner, who coaches the boys.
Also for Menno: Isaac Fergen will compete in the pole vault, Tyler Massey in the triple jump and Eitemiller in the 110 hurdles.