BISMARCK - Watford City sophomore distance runner Asha Smith isn't a fan of the heat, but you wouldn't know by how easy she made it look in the 1,600-meter run Friday at the Class B state track and field meet at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
Smith successfully defended her state title in the event and smashed her performance at last year's meet under much different weather conditions. In the 80-degree heat, Smith finished the mile run in 5 minutes, 0.47 seconds, winning her second state title in the event by 10 seconds over Milnor-Wyndmere-Lidgerwood's Peyton Frolek.
Smith ran a 5:20.32 mile at last year's state meet when it was roughly 30 degrees cooler under overcast skies. The added heat didn't slow the distance runner down as she eclipsed her best time of the season by 0.24 seconds. She needed less than a lap to separate herself from the rest of the field.
Watford City sophomore Asha Smith leads the field during the 1,600-meter run Friday at the Class B state track and field meet at the Bismarck Community Bowl. Smith defended her state title in the event, finishing in 5 minutes, 0.47 seconds.
Rugby junior Nolan Hovland cleared a height of 6 feet, 4 inches to claim the Class B state high jump title.
"I feel so much stronger and happier with what I did," Smith said. "I lifted a lot in the winter and cross-trained. I just didn't overthink my races and had fun. I prayed a lot and that helped."
Smith was in the second of two heats, allowing her to watch the first seven runners compete. But whether she was in the first or second heat didn't matter to her.
"Most of the time when I have a lot of competition I race against myself," Smith said. "I tried to beat my last time (at state), that was my only goal."
Carrington's Ashley Neumiller finished third at 5:16.56, followed by Southern McLean's Kate Fox (5:23.30) and Velva-Drake-Anamoose's Sarah Wherley to round out the top five.
Hochhalter sets Class B state
record in javelin
Carrington senior Kayla Hochhalter had herself a great opening day at the state meet.
She started the meet by setting a personal-best toss in the shot put, winning the state title with a throw of 44 feet, 1 inch. Hochhalter bested Maple Valley-Enderlin senior Kelsey Laufenberg, who finished with a final distance of 42-7. Hochhalter entered with the meet with the top toss in Class B girls at 42-2.
Her day was only beginning as two hours later, Hochhalter competed in the javelin. Although she didn't set a personal record in the event, Hochhalter set the Class B girls state meet record with a throw of 143-11. She clipped Bottineau's Sara Neubauer's record of 143-2 set in 2006.
"Both of them were quite the accomplishment I guess," Hochhalter said. "The javelin, since I got the record, kind of means a little bit more, but the shot put PR was probably the most exciting thing of the day."
Hochhalter's farthest throw entering the state meet was 153 feet.
"It was my last meet ever so I just wanted to throw the best I could," Hochhalter said.
It turned out to be a family affair on the podium as Kayla Hochhalter was joined by younger sister Kauri Hochhalter on the award stand in both events. Kauri Hochhalter, a sophomore, placed sixth in the shot put with a toss of 37-1 and finished eighth in the javelin with a throw of 117-6.
"It was exciting," Kauri Hochhalter said. "I was hoping to just throw my best and I ended up PRing in both my events."
Kayla Hochhalter will go for her third state title of the weekend today in the discus. She enters with the second-longest throw at 133-10. Her teammate, junior Bailey Retzlaff, has the top throw at 134-6.
high jump title
It took some time, but Rugby junior Nolan Hovland was finally able to shake off Grafton's Austin Contreras to win the high jump state title.
Hovland cleared a height of 6 feet, 4 inches on his first attempt, giving him the tiebreaker over Contreras, who needed two attempts to clear the same height. Hovland was one jump from winning the title at 6-3, but Contreras cleared the bar on his final attempt to extend the event.
"I was kind of nervous because there were a bunch of really good jumpers and we were all really close," Hovland said. "(Contreras) was with me the whole way up to 6-5 and it just came down to who got over 6-4 first."
Hovland had been the only high jumper in Class B to clear 6-4 entering the state tournament. Both Contreras and Oakes' Preston Andersen, who finished third, had cleared a top height of 6-3.
When Hovland cleared 6-4 on his first attempt, he knew he could breathe a little easier.
"I knew if we both missed it wasn't that big of a deal then," Hovland said. "It just made me more relaxed and focused on jumping."
Area athletes capture state titles
With 568 athletes in the state tournament field, there were plenty of other area products who stood atop the podium on the meet's first day.
New Town freshman Ryan Wheeling ran past defending state champion Elliott Stone and the rest of the field to capture the 1,600 in 4:23.62. Stone, of Shiloh Christian, finished nine seconds off the pace.
The Eagles finished second in the 3,200 relay. Sophomore Joe Chase, eighth-grader Jalen Chase, sophomore Scott Hale and Wheeling finished in 8:29.70, roughly eight seconds behind Kindred.
Rugby junior Brad Heidlebaugh finished runner-up to Ellendale's Kellemon Hinton in the triple jump. Heidlebaugh jumped 44-31/2, nearly 2 feet behind Kellemon, the defending state champion.
Hazen went 1-2 in the boys shot put. Senior Austin Cieslak edged teammate Seth Kreil by 4-01/2 inches, taking the title with a toss of 49-111/2. Stanley-Powers Lake senior Levi Hoiby was fourth at 47-4.
Watford City's Ricki Lindley was beaten out by Maple Valley-Enderlin's Megan Johnson on the event's final jump in the girls triple jump. Lindley placed second with a distance of 36-113/4.
Stanley-Powers Lake senior Austin Schmidt crushed the competition in the boys javelin. His throw of 193-10 was 24 feet farther than Larimore's Aaron Sletten, who finished second. It was more than 12 feet farther than Schmidt's best throw entering the meet.
The day concluded with a state record set by Rolette-Wolford's Lexy Wittmayer in the girls high jump. Wittmayer cleared a height of 5-10 to break the old record set by Kindred's Halley Odegaard of 5-91/4 in 2003.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.