Gifted as she is, Blythe Ehrmantraut's athletic career includes many great days. But certainly none have been better than what she achieved Saturday.
Ehrmantraut, Bismarck's senior jumping phenomenon, won four open events at the West Region track meet at the MDU Resources Community Bowl, attaining a personal best in the pole vault in the bargain.
She started by winning the long jump with a leap of 17-7. Then she added firsts in the pole vault (10-9), high jump (5-3) and triple jump (37-2).
With just next week's state meet remaining, Ehrmantraut ranks first in the state in the vault and triple jump, second in the high jump and third in the long jump. She moved to top of the heap in the pole vault by improving her personal best by a whopping six inches.
"I've been practicing a lot," she said in explaining her vast improvement in the vault. "Also, mental preparation is a big part of doing well in that event. ... It's very technical and requires a lot more practice than most of the events I do, but it's the most rewarding."
While Ehrmantraut stole the show in terms of individual achievements, Century made a lot of noise from the team perspective. The Patriots won the boys championship with 189.5 points and the girls title with 151.
Bismarck placed second in the boys meet with 155 points and Legacy tallied 152 for third. Minot was the girls runner-up with 138.5 points, and Bismarck claimed third with 121.
Senior Levi Rockey, the reigning champion in the shot put and discus, won both on Saturday to lead the Patriots to the top of the heap.
Freshman Calob Larson had a huge day for Legacy's boys, winning the 200-meter dash, 400 and long jump and finishing second in the 100.
Multitudes of state qualifiers emerged from the regional meet. The top six placers in each event earned state meet berths, along with any athletes who met state qualifying standards, regardless of their placement.
Six boys events and six girls events produced more than the minimum six state qualifiers. Nine boys qualified in the 100, and eight made the grade in the 200 and 3,200. Seven qualifiers emerged from the 800, 400 relay and shot put.
The girls 100, 800, 1,600, 400 relay, 800 relay and pole vault all provided seven qualifiers.
Along with talent and competitiveness, a good deal of grit went into Ehrmantraut's Saturday performance. Physically, she had to dig down deep.
"I was a little worried, because my legs have been hurting the last two weeks," she said. "I had to get my mind in the right place and do what I had to get done."
Even under the best of circumstances, she said the four jumping events take a lot out of an athlete's body.
"It was a pretty good day, considering I did all four jumping events. It's pretty taxing for my legs ... but I did what I wanted to achieve," she observed.
Ehrmantraut is committed to North Dakota State University athletics, but she's not sure exactly what awaits her at the collegiate level.
"They wanted me to be a multi-athlete. ... I'm not sure where they're going to put me, but I want to jump," she said.
Ehrmantraut was a multi-sport athlete before turning exclusively to track and field. She competed in gymnastics and soccer through her freshman year.
Rockey was one of five two-event winners. Dane Allen of BHS placed first in the high jump and triple jump and Beau Brannan of Legacy won the 800 and 1,600. Alli McCoy of Minot captured firsts in the 100 and 200 in the girls meet, and Meghan Ford of Jamestown paced the field in the 800 and 1,600.
Century and BHS dominated the post-meet awards. Rockey was named the region's outstanding senior athlete, and CHS co-coaches Tim Jacobson and Justin Miller shared the coach of the year award.
Ehrmantraut was chosen the outstanding female senior athlete, and the coach of the year award went to BHS co-coaches Tim Kolsrud and Dale Colby.