WATERTOWN, S.D. - Many of the Marshall track and field athletes gave personal-best performances as the team took advantage of a high-caliber meet opportunity Friday at the Watoma Relays in Watertown, S.D.
While no team scores were kept, girls coach Marie Sample was pleased with many of the performances given throughout the seven-plus hour meet, especially considering last year's meet was cancelled because the track was filled with two feet of snow, she said.
"It was a meet where we had eight AA schools, including Eastview, which has a strong distance team. Our girls got challenges in some of our events, which was really nice. There were also eight Class A/B schools that competed against each other. We ran in the upper class. It was super fun."
One of the highlights of the day was the Marshall girls 3,200-meter relay team, which eclipsed its best time of the season, finishing in nine minutes, 48 seconds. Claire Boersma, Nichole Sample, Jackie Turner and Sydney Blomme made up the winning team.
"Each one of them ran a personal record," Coach Sample said. "Their best before this was a 10:04, so they took off a big chunk of time. They really put it together (Friday)."
Marshall finished third in the 3,200 relay at sections last year, one place away from advancing to state. According to Sample, the girls on that relay are adamant about working hard to get to state.
"They're young, with one sophomore, one freshman and two eighth-graders, but they were all on the cross country team that went to state and have been working hard at practice," Coach Sample said. "They're very focused and want to go to state. Chanhassen and Chaska beat us last year and we'll see them again in sections, so we'll have to get in front of at least one of them to do it. With a time like this, it's certainly possible."
Turner also collected an individual first-place finish, running a personal record of 11:31 in the 3,200 run.
"This is only Jackie's second year in track, so to be running the times she has is incredible," Sample said. "She works very hard and takes care of all ages of kids on the team. She's been really good and it helps our atmosphere a lot."
In the 1,600 run, Boersma added a third-place finish (5:26.25), followed closely by teammate Nichole Sample, who took fourth (5:27.75).
Sydney Griffin placed second in the long jump (15-3) after surpassing her best leap of the season. She also took third in the triple jump (34-3.5)
Sarah Buysse continued to shave time off her sprints, taking second in the 200 dash (26.73), finishing third in the 400 run (1:02.63), and tying for fourth in the 100 dash (12.94).
"Sarah is getting stronger each meet," Sample said. "Her time in the 400 was a second faster than she ran before. She had a good time in the 200, too. And a girl from Watertown won the 100 in 12.29. That's fast."
The 800 relay team of Hannah Bock, Rose Anderson, Kendra Soupir and Griffin ran a season-best time of 1:53.15 to claim fifth-place, while the same team members also placed sixth in the 400 relay with a season-best time of 52.5 seconds.
Melodee Grant, Eliana Nordin, Sample and Boersma joined forces to earn a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 relay, while Cami Hoover, Bock, Anderson and Laura Bolin contributed a sixth-place finish in the 1,600 sprint relay.
Adding sixth-place finishes for the Tigers were Rachel Miller in the 100 hurdles and Marah Hart in the 3,200 run.
About half of the team will continue action on Thursday at a meet in Waconia, followed by the elite Howard Wood Relays on Friday and Saturday. Having added some bigger meets to the schedule the past few seasons, Coach Sample believes that her athletes will continue to rise to the competition.
"Our section is loaded with big schools and we have to continue to step up our level a little bit," Coach Sample said. "Our kids don't get better unless they're pushed. I want them to get beat so they'll work a little harder because at sections, they'll be coming up against tough competition."
The Marshall boys also participated at the Watoma Relays.
With sunny skies and a slight breeze, Marshall boys coach Mike Jacobs was pleased that the weather cooperated better than last year. "It was great to have a nice day," Jacobs said.
Leading the way for the Tiger boys was Zach Drum, who finished second in the triple jump with a distance of 40-9.75. Drum also finished sixth in the long jump (18-10), and was a member of the fourth-place finishing 1,600 relay team (3:46.43) along with Sam Marshall, Wade DeAustin and Andrew Bell.
That was one of six fourth-place finishes for the Marshall boys on Friday, including three individuals and two other relay teams. Sam Marshall finished fourth in the 100 (11.15), DeAustin finished the fourth-fastest in the 800 (2:07.94) and Bell took fourth in the 1,600 (4:43.16).
The Tigers finished the 400 relay in 48.21 seconds and the 1,600 sprint medley in 3:56, both fourth-place finishes as well.
Bryan Rose finished fifth in the 300 hurdles (45.75), Max Roelfsema finished fifth in the 200 (24.11) and the 800 relay team finished fifth (1:38.16). Zach Drum finished with the sixth-farthest long jump, John Lothert scored the sixth-best triple jump (38-2) and Chase VanKeulen added the sixth-fastest 3,200 time to round out the top-six finishes for the Marshall Tigers.
"We definitely faced strong competition from (South Dakota teams) Watertown, Harrisburg, Brookings and Sioux Falls O'Gorman," Jacobs said.