HURON — Thirteen seniors will close their high school athletic careers for the Huron Tigers during the Class AA State Track and Field Championships, which begin today in Brandon and conclude Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Huron boys making their final trip to the state meet, include Walid Ali, Brenden Corbett, Tye Evers, Trent Francom, Hyland Heinz, Cole Korkow, Tyler Lien and Edsson Quispe-Laura. Senior girls qualifying for the state meet, include Shannon Katz, Brianna Lichty, Deyona Little, Sydney Shillingstad and Madison Witte.
“I appreciate the dedication all these athletes have made,” Huron coach Tom Baszler said. “I can speak for the whole coaching staff in saying we will greatly miss our seniors.”
Carrying the best shot at claiming state championships for the Tigers are Francom and Korkow in the boys’ pole vault and long jump events, respectively.
“Both of these young men set high goals at the beginning of the year and are in position to accomplish it,” Baszler said.
With a vault of 15 feet, 6 inches to win the title at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays, Francom has established himself as one of the best pole vaulters of all time in South Dakota history. He currently ranks third all time with that vault and established a new HHS record in the event.
Francom, who finished fourth at the state meet a year ago, turned in a vault of 15-4 to establish a new Eastern South Dakota Conference record this season.
“Trent just has to be Trent,” Baszler said. “He loves competition and that will pay off on Friday. He is ready and I think we will see his best this weekend.”
The top vault of all time in South Dakota is 16-1. Although Francom has taken a crack at surpassing that mark this season, Baszler says his focus will be on a state championship.
“Trent’s first priority is to win a state title. He is very ready to accomplish that,” he said. “If the weather works out, and I think it will, it will be a great opportunity for him to vault at high heights. It will be fun to watch.”
Korkow earned he’s second straight ESD title in the boys’ long jump this season for the Tigers. He is seeded third heading into the state meet, with a qualifying jump of 22 feet, 1 inch.
“Cole has to be consistent in his jumps, as he has all year and rise to the moment when his opportunity comes,” Baszler said.
Korkow was seventh in the boys’ long jump last season.
Joining Francom in the boys’ pole vault for the Tigers will be junior Travis Kleinsasser, who was sixth a year ago, and sophomore Matt Katz.
Junior Alex Hill will also be joining Korkow in the boys’ long jump at the state meet.
In addition to competing in the long jump, Korkow also qualified for the Tigers in the 100-meter dash. He is seeded 14th with a qualifying time of 10.90, which is less than a half of a second off the top seeded time of 10.50.
Also qualifying individually for the Tigers was junior Mason Small in the boys’ triple jump.
Huron will also have five relay teams competing in the boys’ division.
Joining seniors Ali, Corbett, Evers, Heinz, Lien and Quispe-Laura in the relay events for the Tigers will be junior Sean Flanery; sophomore Frank Hine; freshmen Kobe Busch and Teegan Evers; and eighth-grader Derick Siemonsma.
“I feel our relays are the strongest since I have been the head coach. We have a real chance to place two or three relays,” Baszler said. “Our 400, 3,200 and medley relays will be our best chances.
“These boys have given up a lot of individual success for the sake of these relays,” he said. “I greatly appreciate it and I can’t wait to see them get on the track for the relays.”
Shannon Katz and Sydney Shillingstad will lead a group of five seniors for the Huron girls into the state meet. They will be joined by fellow seniors Deyona Little, Madison Witte and Brianna Lichty.
Katz will have her sights set on winning a state title in the pole vault, after finishing second a year ago. She is seeded ninth this season with a qualifying vault of 10-3.
“Shannon will give us her best effort at the state meet. She always does,” Baszler said. “She is fighting a wrist injury, but she will be there at the end.”
Shillingstad is making her fifth straight appearance in the 100 for the Tigers at the state meet. She turned in a qualifying time of 12.70, which is exactly a second off the top qualifying time of 11.70.
“I feel like this is her year to get to the podium,” Baszler said of Shillingstad.
Junior Reagan Rozell will be joining Katz in the pole vault at the state meet, while eighth-grader Lexi Gilbert has also qualified to compete with Shillingstad in the 100.
Other individual competitors for the Huron girls at the state meet, include Little in the 300 hurdles and Witte in the shot put. Little is seeded fifth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 46.50, while Witte is seeded 12th in the shot put with a mark of 37-8.
The Tigers will also be competing in five girls’ relay events at the state meet. Relay participants, include Lichty, juniors Kayla Schimke and Gracie Schoenfelder; sophomore Sami Shoultz; freshmen Abbie DeJong, Havyn Heinz and Braylee Thomas; and eighth-graders Tenley Buddenhagen, Bree Gose and Leah Pyle.
“The medley relay will have a shot at placing,” Baszler said. “I think, depending on our health, the other relay teams could surprise people.”
The opening session today in Brandon will begin at 10 a.m., with Saturday’s final session in Sioux Falls slated to begin at 9:30 a.m.