Leaping events at any track meet, let alone one with the adrenaline brought on like the state meet, are volatile by nature.
Just a few wrong moves at one point, and you're out sooner than you should be.
Bismarck junior pole vaulter Alyson Krug avoided those pitfalls Thursday on the first day of the state track and field meet at the Bowl, matching her seed height of 12 feet to win the state title.
"It felt really good," Krug said. "Felt like all the hard work finally paid off. It takes a lot of time in the gym pole vaulting, a lot of time doing little drills and stuff, and it takes setbacks to help you learn."
Krug placing well was a hope for Bismarck coaches coming in. The Demons are hoping to build up points in field events and find unexpected events to make improvements on the track.
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But there's also the nerves that come with being the top seed, especially when you have a six-inch seed advantage on your nearest competitors.
"It takes a lot of little things to go right in your jump," Krug said. "I got my top jump at Howard Wood and the competition there really pushed me."
Krug got through to the final six relatively easily, though the nerves were high early in the event.
"When there's more girls and competition, there's more pressure to do well," Krug said. "As it started getting down, I was getting more calm and confident in what I could do, then I just had to go back after each height to review what I did wrong to fix it."
When the final six were weeded out, Krug was facing Emily Ash of Dickinson, Rachel Dunlop of Century, Emma Briggs of West Fargo Sheyenne, Onya Kretchman of Fargo Davies and Jolee Dahl of West Fargo.
Dahl was the first to exit, unable to hit the new height of 11 feet.
Briggs and Kretchman were the next to go, as they hit 11 feet but were unable to hit on any attempt at 11 feet, three inches.
That resulted in a quickly-decided final three of Krug, Ash and Dunlop.
"Definitely hard to stay calm, even when I had misses at previous attempts I knew I could make," Krug said. "I just had to remember to stay calm and remember what I needed to do."
Krug was third to go in the final three, and all three failed at their first two attempts at 11 feet, six inches.
Dunlop and Ash both faulted on their third attempt, and there was Krug, breaking through the window of opportunity provided to grab the title by clearing on her third and final attempt.
"That was tough, it took a lot and once I saw them miss their third attempt, I knew I wanted it," Krug said. "I wouldn't be able to win if I missed it, because of previous misses, so I had to make it to win. I just wanted it bad enough to clear it."
Krug's first asked height adjustment was up to 12 feet, and she cleared that relatively easily.
"It felt good to replicate that height again," Krug said. "Let me know I could do it."
Krug decided to take a shot at setting a state record of 12 feet, six inches.
She was unsuccessful on all three tries, but came closest with her second attempt, just barely dislodging the bar on her dismount.
"They felt good, I didn't know how close I was to clearing it," Krug said. "After the second attempt, going into the third attempt, I was trying extra hard because I wanted to make it."
Elsewhere for the Demons, Bayla Weigel (fourth, 11:46.41) and Zoe Reichenberger (eighth, 11:53.39) both made the podium in the lone track final of the day, the 3,200 run.
In the other track event, Bismarck's 800 relay team of Cambrie Fischer, Jilian Quale, Katelyn Luther and Aubrey Kleser managed to squeak out a qualifying time of 1:48.66, good for the eighth seed when the finals are run Saturday.
Two Demons also hit the top eight in the shot put. Katelyn Rath took second with a top throw of 40 feet, 11 inches. Tayla Andersen was sixth with a mark of 39 feet, one inch.
Rath, the top seed in the shot put entering the meet, was usurped by Wahpeton sophomore Scout Woods, who had a top throw of 42 feet, one-half inch.
After the first day of competition, the Demons lead with 27 points, followed by West Fargo, Bismarck Century and West Fargo Sheyenne, who are all tied for second with 16 points.
Krug was glad to do her part and bank 10 points for the Demons.
"Feels good, because I know I can contribute to our team," Krug said. "Hopefully we can come out with a high placing."
CENTURY SHOT-PUTTERS DOMINATE
Last year's state title victory for Century's boys team started with a dominant performance in the shot put.
While not quite as dominant this time around -- it would be hard to top running the board in the top four spots and finishing five throwers in the top eight for a total of 31 points -- Century still put up 19 points in a 30-point day.
Jacob Burckhard won the lone title for Century, leading the shot putters with a top throw of 57 feet, six-and-a-half inches.
Burckhard was followed onto the scoresheet by Evan Schmit (third, 53-4.50), Jaxson Walz (seventh, 51-5.25) and Joel Edland (eighth, 51-1.50).
Century's other 11 points on the day came from the long jump, where Ryan Brynjolfson (second, 22-11.5) and Brooks Turner (sixth, 22-1) had strong starts to their final state track meets.
NEWS AND NOTES
JD Williams of Williston took home the gold in the long jump, winning with a top leap of 23 feet, one-quarter inches. It was a five-spot jump for Williams, who entered seeded sixth.
In a demonstration of the volatility of jumping events, top-seeded Anthony Brown of Minot finished a point-less 11th with a top attempt of 21 feet, four inches.
Hudson Schroeder (third, 22-9) and Lucas McNichols (seventh, 22-1) made the podium in the long jump for Bismarck.
The Demons also got a fifth-place finish from Jack Shaffer (52-5) and a sixth-place finish from Jake Hettinger (51-5.50) in the shot put, helping the Demons to 20 points, good for second place.
Aliya Selensky was third (39-11) in the girls shot put for Legacy, giving them all of their six points to start the state meet.
Aside from Dunlop's third-place finish in the pole vault, Century's only other points came from an unexpected first-place finish from junior Eden Fridley in the girls long jump.
Fridley, who finished 11th at last year's state tournament in the long jump, was seeded 12th entering competition. Dickinson's Jazmin Barry entered with the top mark of 18-11, but Barry finished fourth with a jump of 17-11.75, nearly a foot behind Fridley's winning jump.
Fridley's mark of 18-7.25 is a new school record for Century, and beat second-place Kia Ray of West Fargo Sheyenne's top jump by nearly seven inches (18-5).
On the boys' side, Fargo South not only led the field in the prelim race, the team of Aiden Bourke, A'Johntez Moore and Justin and Austin Zulu combined to set a new state and overall record of 1:27.41, bettering the previous record set by Century in 2018 of 1:27.74.
The Fargo South record was the lone record broken in the first day of competition.
Friday features two track finals for the boys and girls, as the Class A 1,600 run is set for 11:45 a.m. and the Class A 3,200 relay is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
In field events, Class A boys will compete in the discus, high jump and javelin. The Class A girls battle in the discus and triple jump.