Prep track: Central's Novotny hopes to raise the bar

Kari Novotny is more concerned about how high she can fly than where she rests on the medal stand. A personal record in the pole vault is what she's shooting for at the North Dakota state Class A girls track meet Friday and Saturday in Bismarck. ...

Kari Novotny is more concerned about how high she can fly than where she rests on the medal stand.

A personal record in the pole vault is what she's shooting for at the North Dakota state Class A girls track meet Friday and Saturday in Bismarck. Novotny's career best is 11 feet, set last year in the two biggest meets of the year and matched by her this year.

"If I could jump 11-6 or PR, if I got second place, that's what happened," the Grand Forks Central senior said. "If I win, that's awesome, too. But I'd rather take second with a PR jump than take first with a 10-foot jump."

Novotny is seeded second entering the state meet. She's just behind Bismarck High's Megan Meyer, who's gone 11-4, and just ahead of Grand Forks Red River's Ashley Zeitvogel, who set a school record with a 10-9 vault while winning the East Region title last weekend.

"I think Grand Forks should have the top two vaulters in the state," Grand Forks pole vault coach John Perry said. "Meyer is at 11-4, but I think both of ours have improved a lot. We do well down there."


A perfectionist, Novotny shows sound technique and good speed in the pole vault. She's defending state champion in the event, and hopes to close things out with her best performance.

Work habits are a strength of Novotny, who often is the last one to leave the track or field after practice.

"I'm just kind of a little anxious to see what comes of it," she said. "I had a really rocky EDC, but this is the weekend that counts, so hopefully I can just forgot about it."

That's the key in the pole vault.

"We've done everything we can up until now and we just have to go with it," Novotny said of advice she receives from her pole vault coach.

She'll keep busy at state, as she's also a member of Central relay teams.

"She puts in a lot of time behind the scenes or outside of practice to get there," Central head girls coach Eric Polries said. "She wants to do the best she can."

A teammate of Novotny, Candyce Iseminger, is seeded second in the discus.


Iseminger has a season-best throw of 124-4. Bismarck High's Katie Weigel is seeded first with a throw of 126-5.

"Candyce has been very consistent. She's just kind of blossoming in the discus," Polries said of Iseminger, who also qualified in the shot put. "She just likes to throw."

Storstad leads Red River girls

Red River's Megan Storstad is defending state champion in the javelin.

Storstad is seeded second with a season-best throw of 120-10 this year. Minot's Shelby Walsh has the top throw of 129-1.

"For Megan to repeat, it's going to take a peak meet," Red River girls coach Chris Douthit said. "I think she's certainly up to the task to repeat."

Red River also is solid in the relays, with all four teams qualifying by time.

"One of the goals we do have is we'd like to have all four relays place," Douthit said.


A key performer in the short relays has been first-year track athlete Caitlin Knoell, who is seeded seventh in the 100.

"She has been a real addition to the team," Douthit said. "And it's made the sprint squad work that much harder."

Todhunter top hope for GF boys

Ryan Todhunter is the top hope of all Grand Forks athletes in the state meet.

The senior won the 110 hurdles and placed second in the 300 hurdles at the 2008 meet, but he has higher goals in 2009.

He's the meet favorite in both hurdles and is the third seed in both the 100 and 200 dashes. But Todhunter defeated the top two seeds in the 200, Donte Smart of Minot and Ryan Smith of Wahpeton, in that event late in the season.

"He's a strong athlete and just has some natural speed, obviously," Red River coach Bob Zimney said of Todhunter. "You have to be quite a competitor, too. He doesn't shy away from competition. He thrives on competition, and that's an attribute track coaches love.

"The better the competition, the better Ryan Todhunter is."


Red River also should contend in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays. It is seeded second in the 4x100 and third in the 4x200.

Juniors Ben Prout, Elby Pope, Chris Dingle and Tyler Gefroh are the 4x100 runners. Todhunter also was considered for that relay, but he decided to compete in all open events.

"Hopefully, these four juniors can win that," Zimney said. "That would be exciting."

In addition to the relays and Todhunter, Red River also has a title contender in Jake Malm, who finished finished third in last year's state meet in the javelin.

The Red River senior hasn't been beaten in the event in 2009. His best throw is 185 feet, 8 inches.

"He's a much better thrower this year than he was last year," Grand Forks javelin coach Tim Tandeski said. "He's had a lot of meets in the upper 170s. He's been really consistent."

Schmidt, Dukes lead Central boys

Ger Schmidt and Ossie Dukes are Grand Forks Central's top hopes in the boys division.


Schmidt is seeded fourth in the 300 hurdles and Dukes is seeded fourth in the triple jump.

"Ger Schmidt has a really good shot," Central coach Sean Allan said. "He's ranked really high in those 300 hurdles. He's been hurdling very well."

Dukes will try to keep a Central streak of state champions in the triple jump.

Ben Jackson won the event in 2007 and Prentiss McKay took the title last year.

"Ossie wants to go for three," Allan said. "He wants to continue that. He's very capable. He has great form, and he has good speed on the runway. We'll just get him there and see what happens."

Fee is sports editor of the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1127; (800) 477-6572, ext. 127; or send e-mail to .

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