T&F: Four Coyote Event Squads Nationally Ranked

NEW ORLEANS—Four Coyote event groups are ranked in the nation’s top-three in the latest Event Squad Rankings published by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday.

The South Dakota men’s and women’s pole vault squads are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the nation.

Junior Chris Nilsen, a two-time national champion in the pole vault, owns the nation’s top height with his jump of 19 feet, ¼ inch, from the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. Teammate Ethan Bray jumped 18-1 two weeks ago to stand at fifth in the national rankings. Combined with junior Nick Johnson and senior Kaleb Ellis, the squad boasts the nation’s top average of 17-6.

After sophomore Landon Kemp became the third Coyote to surpass 14 feet in the women’s pole vault on Saturday, USD’s women improved its average to 14-0 ½ for second in the country. Junior Helen Falda sits seventh in the nation with her team-leading mark of 14-3 ½. Senior Kimmy Peterson ranks 11th nationally with her jump of 14-1 ¾. Kemp is tied for 13th at 14-1 ¼ and freshman Deidra Marrison rounds out the group.

The South Dakota men’s high jump crew sits No. 2 in the country with an average height of 6-10 ¾. Junior Zack Anderson leads the charge, ranking ninth nationally with his school-record jump of 7-2 ½ from the Texas State Bobcat Invitational. Freshman Jack Durst, senior Deshonn Brown and sophomore Travis Larson round out the squad.

The Coyotes’ men’s discus group ranks No. 3 nationally behind an average throw of 174-11. Senior Ben Hammer leads the group with his throw of 188-6. Junior Kino Dunkley, sophomore Jackson Coker and senior Ethan Fenchel add to the average.

South Dakota also ranks No. 10 in the men’s hammer throw, No. 13 in the men’s shot put, No. 18 in the women’s hammer throw, No. 19 in the women’s shot put and No. 20 in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

The USTFCCCA event squad rankings are scored using the cumulative season-best qualifying marks from a team’s top-four ranked athletes on the national descending-order list. A team must have four or more athletes with a valid season-best mark to achieve ranking in a particular event.

In the overall rankings, South Dakota track and field is ranked No. 43 in the nation on the men’s side and No. 53 among the women according to USTFCCCA’s National Track and Field Rating Index. The Coyote women are the top-ranked Summit League program while two league men’s teams are ranked in the nation’s top-50.

The Coyotes split the squad this weekend between several meets in southern California, Ashland (Ohio) and Northwestern (Iowa).