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Les Knutson: Sawtelle excelling at Sioux Falls

WORTHINGTON --Two seasons after finishing up an absolutely remarkable high school track and field career at Luverne, former Cardinal star Katlyn Sawtelle is excelling at the University of Sioux Falls.

A sophomore at USF, Sawtelle was the Cougars' top scorer in last weekend's Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) track and field championships held in Sioux Falls.

Two weeks earlier, she set a school record and placed second in the women's heptathlon, a seven-event test of all-around track and field skills.

Competing at the Swisher Athletic Complex in Aberdeen, S.D. Sawtelle finished second among a field of 14 multi-event athletes with a score of 4,728 points.

The winner, Chanel Miller of the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD), racked up a winning total of 4,866 points. While ending up 138 points from first, Sawtelle was 243 points ahead of Bemidji State's Taylor Sautbine, who finished third with 4,485 points. Anna Blaske (4,266) and Natalie Busher (4,170), both of Winona State, were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the final scoring.

In the heptathlon, like in the 10-event men's decathlon, points are awarded according to performances in each of the events.

On the first day (April 28), Sawtelle clocked a time of 14.76 in the 100-meter high hurdles (874 points), cleared the high jump bar at five feet, three inches (736 points), heaved the women's shot put 32-10¼ (530 points) and ran a time of 25.32 in the 200-meter dash (858 points).

After the first day, the 2010 Minnesota Class A state champion in the high hurdles had racked up 2,998 points and was leading by 151 points.

Miller (2,847) and Sautbine (2,830) were the closest.

Two of Sawtelle's best events from high school (high hurdles and 200) were part of the first-day events, while neither the 300 (400 in college) low hurdles or pole vault (her other high school events) are part of the competition.

On the second day (April 29), Katlyn leaped 17-3½ in the long jump (634 points), tossed the javelin 93-10 (450 points) and finished the event by running a fine time of 2:33.81 (646 points) in the 800-meter run.

Only Miller (2:29.76, 696 points) had a faster 800.

Sawtelle had the fastest time in the 200 and the third-best time in the highs. She tied for second in the high jump and had the third-best distance in the long jump. Her lowest scoring events were the shot put and javelin.

"Considering that Katlyn did not high jump, run the 800, throw the javelin or compete in the shot put in high school, she is really picking up those events well," declared Luverne head coach Craig Nelson. "She is so athletic and so determined, which makes her success in the heptathlon no surprise to any of us who had the privilege of working with her when she was competing for the Cardinals."

At the regular meet on May 10-11, Sawtelle finished third in the 200, set a new USF record and placed sixth in the 100 high hurdles and anchored the Cougars' 4x400-meter relay team to a third-place finish.

With eight points earned in the heptathlon, six in the 200 and three in the highs, Katlyn tallied a total of 17 individual points and was part of six more, enjoying a stellar all-around conference meet.

An outstanding volleyball and basketball player at LHS, Sawtelle has vaulted as high as 11-10 at USF.

Older sister Callan, a senior at USF, was 12th in the javelin at the NSIC meet and placed 18th in the hammer throw.

Kevin and Kari honored at DWU

Kirk McBreen, a 2009 graduate of Southwest Star Concept High School (Heron Lake-Okabena school district), recently earned honorable mention all-conference baseball honors in the Great Plains Athletic Conference after completing a solid senior season at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) in Mitchell, S.D.

The Tigers' starting second baseman and leadoff hitter compiled some impressive statistics, as he capped a fine career at DWU --- after excelling for the Southwestern United (SSC and Round Lake-Brewster) Wildcats in high school, including helping SWU claim a third-place state tournament trophy in 2006.

Kirk's parents, Kevin and Kari of rural Heron Lake, were honored --- well-deserved --- at DWU's baseball banquet as the Tiger's "Fans of the Year."

Kevin, known to his friends as "Pruno," enjoyed a long career in slow-pitch softball as one of the best high-arching pitchers in the area.

Later, "Pruno" coached the Okabena Legion baseball team for more than a decade and currently he is a consistent winner on a local radio station early in the mornings.

Amazingly, both Kevin and Kari never missed a single one of DWU's games this season. That's right, the couple made it to all 50 games, including traveling to Arizona, Kansas, Missouri and several trips to the Metrodome.

The McBreens were fixtures at Tiger home games for all four years of Kirk's career and the DWU coaching staff appreciated their strong support and recognized them both with this special honor.

"They were surprised," said Kirk, who plays shortstop for the Heron Lake Lakers amateur baseball team in the summers. "But neither of them missed a game all season. So they sure deserved the award, and I really appreciated them being there all the time."