Just call Katie Duttenhefer, “The Closer.”

Duttenhefer has never won a Class B track state championship in an individual event, but the Hazen High School junior has closed out four state championship performances in the relays over the past three years. She ran the anchor leg on winning 400-meter relay teams in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and the state title 800 relay team in 2015. She also ran the second leg on the winning 800 relay team in 2016.

Chances are, Duttenhefer will add to her collection of state championship hardware this weekend in Bismarck. Hazen posted the state’s fastest times in the 400 and 800 relays (50.63 seconds and 1:45.31, respectively) this season, with Duttenhefer running the anchor leg on both occasions.

During Saturday's Class B South Central Region meet held at the Bismarck Community Bowl, Duttenhefer finished off Hazen victories in 400 and 800 relays (51.04 seconds and 1:45.31, respectively). Other members of those relay teams were Elise Hintz (400 and 800), Raquel Doll (400 and 800), Hannah Sailer (400) and Grace Zimmerman (800).

“I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had opportunities to run with so many talented girls and together we’ve won a lot of races,” Duttenhefer said. “We take pride in our relays … we’ve done so well over the years. We're super excited about this year, too. We've worked very hard all year and we like the position we're in right now. We believe we can do even better, though, and hopefully that will come at state."

Duttenhefer said Hazen's 800 relay team hoped to break the 1:46 mark on Saturday. 

“We’ve been around 1:46 and 1:47 all year, so our goal was to run a 1:45 today,” she said. “We're very excited about that. Everything clicked the way it was supposed to."

Like a closer in baseball, a relay team's anchor runner is counted on to protect a lead. Duttenhefer said she has lost count of the number of times Hazen has been in front when she took the baton.

"Over the years the girls ahead of me have been so good that when it's my turn we're usually in the lead. My teammates count on me to keep us there," she said. "I'm determined to get the win for my team. I make sure the exchange is clean and then run as fast as I can. While I'm watching the race and waiting for my turn, the adrenaline is really pumping, so when I get the baton I'm ready to go."

Duttenhefer also placed second in the open 100 (12.74 seconds) and 200 (26.42) behind Zimmerman on Saturday. Her time in the 200 is a personal-best, and her clocking in the 100 is a season-best.

"My time in the 100 wasn't a PR (personal record), but I was really happy with it because I didn't have a good start. The blocks moved a little when I took off," she said. "I'm excited to see what I can do at state with a good start. I ran a PR in the 200 and that's exciting, too. I've never placed in an open event at state before. I'm hoping that will happen this year."

Zimmerman, also a junior, had a big day on Saturday, winning the 100 (12.30), 200 (25.63) and 400 (57.34), in addition to running a leg on the winning 800 relay team. Zimmerman is the defending Class B state champion in the 200.

Other multiple individual champions were Amanda Jarrett of Carrington, 800 (2:28.13) and 1,600 (5:36.76), and Cassie Gefroh of Linton-HMB, long jump (16 feet, 9 inches) and triple jump (35-3).

Team champion Carrington, which outscored second-place Hazen 181-171, had five other individual champions - Ashley Neumiller, 3,200 (12:45.82); Abigail Jarrett, 300 hurdles (46.80); Gracie Page, high jump (4-11); Emerson Hoornaert, pole vault (8-6), and Emma Rost, javelin (113-4). The Cardinals also claimed top honors in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays.

Also winning individual titles were Doll, 100 hurdles (16.98); Megan Kleingartner of Kidder County-Napoleon, shot put (37-5.5), and Megan Molash of Standing Rock, discus (116-5).

South Central Region senior athlete of the year LaDora Schmidt of Kidder County-Napoleon finished second in the 400, and fourth in the 100.

Carrington also captured the team title in the boys division, scoring 135 points - just five more than second-place Southern McLean. 

Kaden Wolsky led the Cardinals with victories in the 110 hurdles (16.77) and pole vault (12 feet). Other Carrington winners were Payton Smith, 1,600 (4:49.99); Easton Rindy, shot put (42-10); Cody Schlegel, discus (127-3), and the 400, 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams.

Koby Hansen, high jump (5-10), and Cody Blazek, long jump (20-7), picked up wins for Southern McLean.

Jordan Anderson of Medina-Pingree-Buchanan was a double-winner, taking the 100 (11.46) and 200 (23.07). He also ran the first leg on the winning 800 relay team. Teammate Kyle Andres was the first to finish in the 800 (2:09.67).

Other winners in the boys division were South Central Region senior athlete of the year Corbin Claymore of Standing Rock, 3,200 (10:30.77); Braydon Schmidt, 300 hurdles (44.85), and Alex Jones, javelin (148-4.5), of Linton-HMB, and Alec Stroh of Kidder County-Napoleon, triple jump (41-0.5).

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