DCHS' Kuehn hitting her stride (slideshow 2)
By Eric Killelea
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
Over halfway into the track and field season, Emily Kuehn, a junior at Dawson County High School, has proved she can run faster and longer than almost any of her competitors.
Fighting a cold and dragging herself onto the Sidney track last Saturday, Kuehn qualified for her third state event in the 800-meter (2:25.20), before running the 1600-meter (5:18.92) to nearly break a decade-old DCHS record.
Kuehn ran the one-mile race two seconds slower than Nacona Frame’s DCHS record (5:18.72) clocked in 2007, and she beat the second ranked school time set by Sheila Kennedy (5:22) in 1971. Over the weekend, Kennedy, who has been Kuehn’s long-distance coach for the past three varsity track seasons, gave her protege pep talks before each race and yelled out running tips and times during the events.
“After the 1600-meter, she was jumping up-and-down,” Kuehn said on Monday evening. “At practices, she would say, ‘You got to beat my record.’ She was always pushing me and it was really good to have that support. Then my legs gave out in the 800-meter and she was there to catch me at the finish line.”
On a team with six state qualifiers, Kuehn is a standout among the elite.
A dancer with LaDonna’s School of Dance, she first joined cross-country along with track and field in the seventh grade. For the past two track seasons, she has qualified for state events by placing at divisionals. She recently dropped winter cheerleading to focus on her goal of running in college. The snow and ice forced her indoors to train on the family treadmill to “shave off times to impress recruiters,” Kuehn, 16, said. Her dedication paid off and she has since qualified for State in the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs. And now, she holds the school’s fourth, second and fourth fastest times in the events, respectively.
“A big part of my success is that my family is here to push me,” Kuehn said. “Even when I didn’t want to get on the treadmill in winter, my mom was there to motivate me. She’s at all my races and my dad gets work days off to come see me.”
Led by Kuehn, the Lady Red Devils scored 56 points and placed third among 22 teams at the recent meet, trailing only behind Custer County (65) and Westby-Grenora (70) in a “solid team performance,” DCHS head coach Mike Dryden said.
Senior Kendra Zander continued her “impressive season” placing third in both the 100-meter (13.52) and 200-meter (28.69). Sophomore Thea Robson contributed as the leading point-getter for the throwers placing fifth in the discus (94-05) – a personal record.
“Our girls are doing really well this year,” Kuehn added. “I feel pretty close to them and I’m looking forward to what we can do for the rest of this year.”
Unlike the girls, the boys have been unable to rely on athletic depth and have approached the season as a rebuilding year. The boys scored 48 points over the weekend, placing fourth behind Baker (60), Glasgow (98) and a strong Sidney team (114).
“We have some kids that are doing OK,” Dryden said. “But we don’t have as many as we have had in the past and we are struggling with sprinters and jumps.”
That said, senior Tristan Hilgart made “consistent improvements” in the meet placing fourth in the 400-meter (53.15) and first in the 800-meter (2:02.72). Hilgart partnered up with Robbie Keiser, Jameson Crisafulli and Logan Phipps to come in fifth in the 4x400 Relay (3:46.28).
“Tristan is really focused,” Dryden said. “He knows what it takes to be at divisionals and at state. He knows it takes tremendous effort. You don’t spent a lot of time patting yourself on the back and he understands that. But you can also enjoy his success and his progress.”
Ase Ackerman had an impressive weekend, earning second in the 3200M and fourth in the 1600M, setting personal records in both events.
Keiser, the team’s leading long jumper and lone high jumper, set a personal record when placing sixth in the 400-meter (54) but did not compete in his stronger events due to an ongoing injury concerning his Achilles tendon. Junior Jayden Holley set another personal record when taking first in the shot put (50.07.50), surpassing his own state qualifying throw (48-10).
“It’s a big deal and it was exciting,” Dryden said. “You don’t always improve every weekend so it can be a little frustrating. When they have improvement it kind of validates their effort and focus. This is impressive for us because we haven’t had a 50-foot thrower for over a decade.”
Inspired by his teammates, Holley said his latest shot put gave him “the extra motivation” to set a new goal of 52-feet and continue after the school record waiting for him at 56-feet.
“The throwers here are pretty much like family,” Holley said. “We’re doing pretty good as a group. They’re always getting new (personal records).”
The DCHS track and field team is scheduled to compete at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Elks Meet in Glendive. Next week, the team heads to Glasgow to test its skills among the best in eastern Montana in the Top Ten Invite.
Boys: Sidney, 114; Glasgow, 98; Baker, 60; Dawson County, 48
Girls: Westby-Grenora, 70; Custer County, 65; Dawson County, 56; Sidney, 52
400M - Tristan Hilgart, fourth, 53.15 (personal record); Robbie Keiser, sixth, 54 (PR)
800M - Tristan Hilgart, first, 2:02.72 (season record)
1600M - Ase Ackerman, fourth, 4:51.84 (PR)
3200M - Ase Ackerman, second, 10:32.75 (PR)
4x400 Relay - Robbie Keiser, Tristan Hilgart, Jameson Crisafulli, Logan Phipps, fifth, 3:46.28
Shot Put -Jayden Holley, first, 50-07.50 (PR)
Discus - Jayden Holley, second, 136-02
Javelin - Jayden Holley, sixth, 154-06
100M - Kendra Zander, third, 13.52
200M - Kendra Zander, third, 28.69
800M - Emily Kuehn, second, 2:25.20 (PR)
1600M - Emily Kuehn, second, 5:18.92 (PR)
100M Hurdles - Jaley Wyse, second, 16.96 (season record); Kendra Kaufman, fourth, 17.37 (PR)
300M Hurdles - Jaley Wyse, second, 48.47
4x100 Relay - Kendra Zander, Taylor Munro, Jaley Wyse, Kendra Kaufman, fourth, 54.05
Discus - Thea Robson, fifth, 94-05 (PR)
High Jump - Karsen Murphy, fifth, 5
Reach Eric Killelea and firstname.lastname@example.org.