HAYTI — Hamlin High School junior Gracelyn Leiseth has been named the Gatorade South Dakota Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the second-straight year.
The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Leiseth is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Player of the Year award to be announced in July.
The 5-foot-11 Leiseth set a state record in the shot put at the Class A state meet this past season. At the time of her selection, Leiseth’s winning throw of 52 feet, 6.75 inches ranked No. 1 nationally among girls prep competitors in 2022. She also finished second in the discus at the state meet with a toss of 160-11, which ranked No. 12 in the country.
Leiseth has volunteered as a barista at the Mission Coffeehouse in Brookings, which raises money for service missions both locally and internationally. She has also donated her time as a vacation bible school teacher and with the Special Olympics.
“Gracelyn had an incredible track season,” said Don Sutera, head coach of Sioux Valley High School. “She is a really neat athlete in that you wouldn’t know that she is elite in how she conducts herself. She is really low key and goes about her business in a professional manner.”
Stevens' Birnbaum earns Gatorade boys track honor
RAPID CITY — Simeon Birnbaum of Stevens High School is the 2021-22 Gatorade South Dakota Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
The state’s 2021-22 Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, the 6-foot, 145-pound junior became the 16th high-school-age boy in history to break 4 minutes in the mile run this past year. Birnbaum crossed the line in 3:59.51 to win the mile at the Brooks PR Invitational, setting a state record with a time that ranked No. 5 nationally among prep competitors in 2022 at the time of his selection.
Birnbaum also set a state record when he finished second in the 800-meter run in 1:50.12 at Nike Outdoor Nationals, and he produced another state-best mark with a winning time of 8:55.22 in the 3,200-meter run at the Howard Wood Relays. He swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at the state Class AA state meet, leading the Raiders to a second-place finish as a team.
This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Hamlin's Leiseth repeats as South Dakota's Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year