Nic Smith just wants to follow in his father's footsteps. Smith joined the Air National Guard and will be going to basic training in 2019. He wanted to join the military to help pay for college, but he also wanted to be like his dad, who's also involved now.
"I just want to live up to that," Smith said.
Smith also wanted to be like his dad and join track and field. The West Fargo Sheyenne senior still runs hurdles, just like his dad did, even though long jump is his best event. Smith still might compete in track and field whenever he goes to college. But Smith won't be going to college right after high school, so for now he's trying to make the most of what's left of his Mustangs career.
Smith hit a personal record and won the boys long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 10 inches, at the Mustang Invitational on Thursday, May 10, at Sheyenne High School. The Mustangs boys won the meet with 157.5 points and the girls won with 227 points to win the biggest meet held at the high school in the program's four-year history.
Smith, who also won in long jump at Sheyenne's home meet last year, said he just felt more comfortable competing at home. Smith hopes these performances help him build up to improve on his sixth-place showing at the state meet last year. The East Region meet will be at 2 p.m. Friday, May 18, at Fargo South and the North Dakota Class A state meet will start on Friday, May 25, at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
"I couldn't even imagine placing higher than that," Smith said. "I would just love to improve and be one of the top guys."
Smith said he's been focusing on short-distance and speed work during practices to get the best out of himself. Smith said he looked up to past Sheyenne seniors who pushed themselves, so he wanted to set the example this year.
"I want to be that person for the underclassmen," Smith said. "During workouts, I try to run a little faster so they look up to me and try harder and want to win."
Whenever Smith goes to other high schools, he looks at their record boards and soaks in the history of those past performances. Smith holds Sheyenne's long jump record but says the closest thing Sheyenne has to a record board is a computer document. He says he wants to perform well enough to keep that record by the time a display does get built.
"I just want to make an impact here," Smith said. "I want to have records and have people remember me. I want to be a big part of this school."
Mustangs junior Macey Perius won the girls 100 meters in 12.87 seconds, the 100 hurdles in 16.42 seconds and helped the Mustangs 400 relay team with Betsy Shorma, Shaylee Heinz and Amni Austin take first in 52.04 seconds. Austin won the girls pole vault with a 10-03 mark, Allie Wendel won the 300 hurdles in 48.32 seconds, Caleigh Anderson won the 1,600 in 5:32.13, Melodie Letvin won the 400 in 63.11 seconds, the Mustangs 3,200 relay team of Katrina Dietz, Eden Smith, Anderson and Mattyson Barta won in 10:01.97 and the 400 throwers relay of Emelia Asa, Paige Johnson, Sammi Heath and Dejah Hunter took first in 60.43.
Perius said her cousins and other family and friends showed up to watch her so she didn't want to disappoint at her home meet.
"I really wanted to make sure I did well so I didn't let anybody down," Perius said. "I wanted to make sure I put on a good show."
Perius admits she didn't want to compete in track and field right away growing up, but she fell in love with the family aspect of the sport. Now she wants to keep getting better and eventually run in college.
"We're all connected in a way," Perius said. "We're all really good friends so I think it makes it even better."
Jacob Knodle helped the boys win as a team by winning in the 1,600 in 4:42.25. Leo Smith also won the 3,200 in 10:23.42 and Anthony Hoang won the triple jump in 40-03.25. Knodle, a freshman, said he just hopes to continue to set personal records and see where that leaves him by the state meet.
"I feel like I've been progressing slow but steady," Knodle said. "I'm just ready to keep on improving for years to come."
Knodle added that running in the time he did was helped by competing on his home track. At home with fans there, he felt his legs better carried him.
"I felt like I was pushing myself," Knodle said. "It feels good to compete on the same track that you do all your workouts on. You feel at home."