Stanley-Powers Lake sprinter Skyler Tangsrud realizes he may have never discovered track and field.
Tangsrud grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, but moved to Stanley to live with his father, Derek, before his freshman year of high school.
"He came not having a clue what track really was," sixth-year SP-L coach Tonya Reum said. "He'd never done it before."
Stanley-Powers Lake senior sprinter Skyler Tangsrud pulls away from the field at a meet earlier this season. Tangsrud enters today's Class B state track and field meet with the fastest qualifying times in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. Photo courtesy of Sandy Harstad.
A little more than three years after Tangsrud's friends encouraged him to take up the sport, the SP-L senior is a qualifier for all three individual sprinting events and a favorite to take home the Class B state championship in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. Sprinting preliminaries begin today in Bismarck, with finals on Saturday.
Tangsrud enters the state meet with Class B's two fastest times in both the 200 - including a season-best 22.45 - and 400. His 49.94 lap is the only sub-50-second time in Class B this season.
"I have high hopes," Tangsrud said of the state meet. "I've kind of just worked up my 400 for this year. ... I hope I can keep to my rankings and hopefully win first in both of them."
Tangsrud said he keeps a close eye on the state performance lists to compare his times to those of his competitors. He knows if he wants to be at the top of the podium this weekend, he'll have to dethrone two defending state champions.
Rugby sophomore Nigel Hageness won the 200 last season and Bowman County senior Michael Palczewski won the 400. Tangsrud considers those runners, along with Watford City senior and 400 runner Tyler Bates, to be his biggest obstacles.
Tangsrud's improvement has been steady throughout his high school career, but he and Reum agree the biggest jump occurred between his sophomore and junior seasons. He went from being a part of state-qualifying relay teams as a sophomore to a qualifier for all three sprinting events and all four relays as a junior.
"All the sudden he just kept getting faster and faster," Reum said. "Track is his sport. He waits all year-round for it."
Tangsrud finished seventh in the 200 last year and was a member of SP-L's third-place 400 relay. This weekend, he will compete in the 800 relay and 1600 relays in addition to the individual 200 and 400. Competitors are limited to four events.
It is quite the state-meet slate for an athlete who said he probably wouldn't have gone out for track without prodding from friends in Stanley.
"I definitely like the decision I made," Tangsrud said. "I don't even know if I would've been a track athlete (in Rhode Island) like I've gotten into it out here. I'm definitely happy that I chose North Dakota."
Tangsrud hasn't made a college decision yet, but said he is "95 percent sure" he will attend Minot State University and run for the Beavers.
Other area athletes to watch
Nigel Hageness, Jr., Rugby. Last year's 100- and 200-meter champion has this season's fastest time in the 100 (10.88). Also qualified in the 200 (23.18) and as part of the 400 relay.
Tyrel Albers, Jr., Hazen. Top five qualifying times in the 100 (11.07) and 200 (22.70).
Keenan Hodenfield, Sr., Williams County. Third-fastest individual in the 200 (22.87). Also qualified in the 100 and 400.
Tyler Bates, Sr., Watford City. Fastest time in the 400 (50.34) aside from Tangsrud's two fastest races. Also a contender in the 100 and 200.
Ryan Wheeling, Eighth-grader, New Town. No. 2 qualifying time in the 1600 (4:36.23). Fourth-fastest individual in the 3200 (10:18.09).
Bennett Lystad, Sr., Divide County. Fifth-fastest individual in the 3200 (10:35.72).
Scott Burnham, Sr., Carrington. High jump of 6-02 is one inch below Class B's top mark.
Stetson Carr, Sr., Hazen. High jump of 6-02 is one inch below Class B's leaders. Also a top-ten qualifier in discus.
Casey Walcker, Fr., Beulah. Long jump of 21-06.50 trails only Ellendale sophomore Kellemon Hinton's top two marks. Best triple jump of 43-09 trails only Hinton's top four performances in that event.
Tanner Bernhardt, So., Rugby. Fifth-best mark in the long jump (21-04). Also qualified in long jump (41-11.50).
Austin Cieslak, Jr., Hazen. Posted the No. 5 and No. 6 qualifying heaves in the shot put, including season-best 50 feet.
Levi Hoiby, Sr., Stanley-Powers Lake. Sixth-best individual in shot put. Season-best of 48-09 is 10th-furthest qualifying throw. Discus mark of 143-06 is eighth among Class B athletes.
Elijah Grady, So., New Town. No. 2 qualifier in discus (150-08).
Cole Danks, Jr., New Town. No. 4 qualifier in discus (147-05).
Harrison Aide, Jr., Bottineau. Two-time state champion in the pole vault has top two marks of the season (14-07 and 14-00) in either class.