Zander qualifies for state in pole vault; Cowboys capture ‘Quick Trigger’

Look! Up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman.

No, it’s just Hoyt Zander.

By Bryan Gallegos

But the soft-spoken senior from Killdeer High School had a Superman-like effort at the Killdeer Cowboys “Quick Trigger” Invitational on April 7. Zander won two events and placed in another and helped the Cowboys run away with the team title.

Killdeer won seven events and dominated the throwing events to score 174 points and easily outdistanced the six-team field. In addition to Zander, Cole Dukart, Garrett LeMieux, Liam McFadden and Rope Smith came away with first-place efforts to help in the runaway victory.

The Cowboys won despite missing Dillan Jepson, a returning state qualifier in three events last year. Jepson dislocated his shoulder in practice last week and is likely out for the season.

Runner-up Beulah had 143 points, followed by Beach (90.5), Hazen (74), Richardton-Taylor (64) and Heart River (54.5).

“After a month of practicing, it was time to compete against other schools and the boys did a great job of that on Friday,” Killdeer boys head coach Andy Murphy said. “It was a great first meet but it’s something we need to build on and continue building on as the season progresses.”

It certainly was for Zander. It didn’t take Zander long to find the form that helped him earn a state medal last year. He didn’t need a cape, just a pole.

Zander punched his ticket to the 2017 North Dakota High School Track and Field Championships by clearing the state-qualifying standard of 12 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault.

“That’s a big relief,” said Zander, who has been pole vaulting since the seventh grade.

But he wasn’t sure what to expect from the hastily-scheduled meet. The team was scheduled to compete at an indoor meet in Minot, but school officials opted to host their own meet instead.

And Zander had not had much time working outdoors. They set up the pole vault equipment on Wednesday, but it was too windy on Thursday to practice.

He struggled initially on Friday, missing twice at 11 feet. But after making a minor adjustment, Zander soared as if he had a giant “S” on his chest. And when he reached 12-6, eyed the bar at the end of the runway.

“I was thinking, ‘I’ve done this before and it should be easy.’ But nothing is ever easy,” Zander chuckled.

Murphy agreed.

“It was a good feeling to have Hoyt qualify at the first meet. Twelve-six is a great starting point, but there is so much room for improvement and he’s aware of it. He has the potential to have a great season but he will need to bring his hunger to practice.”

Zander posted another first before he qualified for state in his first meet. He won the first event of the first meet, capturing gold in the javelin with a toss of 139 feet, seven inches. It was the first victory in the event.

The javelin was among the throwing events where the Cowboys dominated. Smith won the discus with a toss of 123-1, while Liam McFadden won the shot put with a mark of 39-8.5.

It was in those three events where the Cowboys ran away with the team title. Killdeer had seven of the top eight in the discus, and six of the top eight in the javelin and shot put. Together, the trio of events accounted for 104 points.

Killdeer also got golden efforts from Dukart in the 110-meter high hurdles and Garret LeMieux in the high jump.

Dukart won the hurdles with a time of 17.14 seconds, more than two seconds faster than the runner-up.

LeMieux won the high jump with a leap of six feet, which was eight inches higher than the second-place jumpers.

“The track meet on Friday (April 7) went better than anticipated,” Murphy said. 

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