STM track building a dynasty

At this point it's hard to argue that the St. Thomas More track and field program is anything other than a dynasty after yet another season where both the boys and girls teams swept the Class A team titles. The Cavalier girls have now captured nine of the past 14, including five straight, and the boys have won four of the past five ...

Benson said, "A lot of the effort over the past eight years has gone to build that program as well. The ahtletes have always been here, its been about getting them out and creating a culture at STM that this is a program that is successful every year and kids want to be a part of that."

While the tradition has been built, there was some concern that the girls might not have the numbers necessary to get back to the top of the podium this season, despite having a runner in Kaci Cooper who would go on to win both the 400- and 800-meter runs.

Cooper said, "The beginning of the year there were only about 13 girls on the team, I think, so we were just kind of accepting that we won't take it this year, we won't win this year, just because we didn't think we had enough talent to do so."

Benson noticed that and made sure that he sat the girls down and let them know that another state championship win was in their reach.

Benson said, "Maybe they were kind of going through the motions and I did have to kind of I guess let them know that this is still a possibility, but we have to get going and we have to get to work."

On the boys side, Class A MVP Jacob Hyde won the 100, 200 and 400 in a performance that left his coach in awe.

Benson on Hyde, "He was incredible. I was just telling somebody that sometimes as a coach you become a fan and to just sit back and watch what he did, he's a special athlete that you get to work with maybe once every 20 years. I mean, honestly, it looked like a college athlete running against high school athletes and it just gave you goosebumps the way he ran away from everybody."

Benson credits rivals within the region, such as Custer and Hill City and even Class AA foes , for pushing his teams to the level they're at.

Benson said, "Custer out there, we get to compete against Stevens and Central all the time, and Spearfish and Sturgis, they're all strong track teams and that definitely prepares us to make the trip to the other side of the state."