SIOUX FALLS—Tevyn Waddell has been waiting all season for a performance like she had on Friday.
The Mitchell senior standout won the high school girls pole vault by clearing 11 feet, 6 inches on her first attempt to best a field of 23 competitors at the 91st Howard Wood Dakota Relays at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
“It felt really good, that’s a mark I’ve been trying to hit all season,” said Waddell, who tied her personal-best mark and tied her own school record with the leap. “We’ve been working on getting my heels up and punching off my feet.”
After five other competitors failed to clear 11-6, Waddell was declared the winner and attempted to hit 11-10. Despite being unable to set a new personal best, Friday’s performance boosted Waddell atop the girls pole-vaulting field.
“It makes me a lot more confident heading into state in a few weeks,” Waddell said. “I’m going to have to keep getting on that pole and maybe get on bigger poles.”
At last year’s Dakota Relays, Waddell took third with a leap of 10-6 before finishing second at the state track meet a few weeks later.
Mitchell pole vaulting coach Travis Carpenter said Friday was a big day for the Kernel standout.
“She’s been knocking at the door for 11-6 all year,” Carpenter said. “We finally got over that hump. Hopefully, it means bigger things to come.”
Carpenter said Waddell’s goal is to hit 12 feet and she may have to start using a bigger pole to accomplish that feat.
“It’s great for confidence. She needed a day like today,” Carpenter said.
For Mitchell track and field head coach Joe Shepardson, Friday’s win was a strong reward for all of Waddell’s hard work.
“It’s always good to tie your personal best in something like pole vault,” Shepardson said. “To get atop of the award stand is a great feeling. It always puts a smile on your face.”
Even equally impressive for Waddell’s win is how she balances her time pole vaulting along with training for the United States Swimming Olympic Trials. Waddell, one of South Dakota’s top swimmers ever, will compete in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke in the Olympic Trials at the end of June and early July. Deciding to chase her goals for a state title in pole vault only added to her work load in preparation for the Olympic Trials.
“It’s really hard at times,” Waddell said. “Early morning practices, then track practice and then back to swim practice. It’s worth it. I love both of the sports and I’m excited to see what the rest of the season has for me.”
Carpenter said Waddell is proving how special of an athlete she is by competing at a high level in both the pole vault and in the swimming pool.
“It’s pretty impressive,” said Carpenter, who complemented Waddell’s parents for helping her succeed. “She’s a fun kid to have around.”
While Waddell will be eventually swimming for the University of Minnesota next fall, she didn’t want to give up one of her favorite hobbies in the pole vault.
“I love swimming but pole vaulting is like my home away from home,” Waddell said. “It’s something fun that I can do outside of the pool.”
As she enters her final weeks competing in the pole vault, Waddell eyes finishing her track and field career with a state title.
“There’s no easy road to be doing things like this,” Shepardson said about how Waddell balances pole vaulting and swim training. “There’s no days where you can’t do anything. She’s doing it and she’s getting rewarded for it.”
Along with Waddell, Mitchell’s Courtney Miller had banner day for the Kernels. Miller reached the semifinals of the 100-meter dash by taking second place in his first preliminary race with a time of 11.47 seconds.
“Courtney had a great race,” said Shepardson, who added it was Miller’s personal-best time. “He’s such a smooth, calm runner and you don’t even realize how fast he’s getting down the track.”
Shepardson said Miller’s performance will help him move up the state rankings.
“To be in the top 24 at Howard Wood, is a great accomplishment,” Shepardson said.
Kernel runners have strong showing at O’Gorman
Elsewhere in Sioux Falls, the Kernels were winning multiple events at the O’Gorman Invite.
Spencer Neugebauer won the 100 with a time of 11.36, the 200 with a time of 22.93 and took first in the 400 with a time of 52.41.
In girls events, Kaelyn Kaul and and Erin Farnham finished in first and second place, respectively, in the 400 with times of 1:00.75 and 1:02.32.
“Kaelyn’s confidence is awesome,” Shepardson said. “She’s been working hard and that makes all of our relays better.”
Kristin Pistulka won the 200 with a time of 27.32 and Kyla Crago finished third with a time of 28.30.
“It’s good for them to keep winning, because it’s not often that you get to win a race,” Shepardson said. “I’m happy for them because they’re working hard.”
In other boys events, Kyle Weier finished second in the discus with a toss of 141-09, while Kyle Jamison finished third in the 800 with a time of 2:10.71.
Weier will be competing in both the discus and the shot put today at the Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls.
“Coming here, he might step his game up even a little bit more,” Shepardson said. “We’re excited to see what he’ll do.”
Sutton Carpenter took fourth in the boys pole vault with a leap of 12-03, which qualified him for state. The Kernel boys 4×400 relay team, consisting of Jamison, Tate Larson, Carson Max and Will Campbell took third with a time of 3:52.46.
“We had kids that had a great experience and realize what it takes to compete at a big meet,” Shepardson said. “We had a of (personal records) today and that jump we’ve been looking for, we saw that today. Their confidence is building and it’s great to see.”