Monthly Archives: August 2014

Yankton’s Best Tri Hosts Inaugural Race

Native ironman Gregory Taylor and Texan Cristina Thibodeaux took first place at Yankton's Best Tri this Saturday.

Native ironman Gregory Taylor and Texan Cristina Thibodeaux took first place at Yankton’s Best Tri this Saturday.

After a promising start with a sun cresting the horizon, clouds rolled in but didn’t dampen the spirits (or the gear) of triathletes competing in the inaugural Yankton’s Best Tri Saturday. Experience and age won over youth and strength in this event that showcased some of of South Dakota’s best features  to out-of-staters who traveled to take on southeast South Dakota’s best triathletes. 

Local ironman Gregory Taylor proved his mettle stretches down to the sprints with his 26 second win over Jefferson’s Jeremy Reimer. On a side note, Taylor not only won his age group at Ironman Boulder, but the next weekend he went on to win his age group at USAT age-group nationals in Milwaukee just a few weeks ago. This hometown win certainly tops off a perfect season for him. Vermillion’s Randall Rasmussen, a veteran himself, finished out the overall men’s podium with a solid third place finish. 

Texan Cristina Thibodeaux won the women’s field in a commanding fashion. Hartford’s Teresa Van Hyfte placed second with her speedy swim and strong overall showing, and Julie Roos (another outsider, this time from Orange City, Iowa) squeaked her way into third place (by a mere four seconds over South Dakota triathlon regular Laura Zumhofe). 

Interested parties can locate the rest of the results at the All Sport Central site

For their first try at running a triathlon, the Yankton Sertoma Club pulled out all the stops and proved they wanted to content in quality with the other races in the state. Athletes recognized some thoughtful touches like a path of carpet leading from the beach to the carpeted transition area (triathletes like to keep those tender dogs safe on potentially sharp asphalt). The organizers also gave participants a pool of water to wash off unwanted sand before transitioning from the beach to the carpet. Furthermore, this particular event offered something that no other triathlon in the state offers post race: pizza–among a variety of other replenishing possibilities.

Many triathletes commented on the beauty of the course with the bike route that led over the Gavins Point Dam, into Nebraska, and then back on the new Discovery Bridge, and with a safe run route that led athletes down the bike trail along the river and back to the designated finish line. Mother Nature also complied to help make this a fantastic event with an unseasonably cool morning for late August in Yankton and a minimal breeze–nothing the average South Dakotan hasn’t experienced on about 90 percent of his or her training rides.

Most notably, though, this particular event had a boatload of spectators. The campground venue allowed for a handful of people to wake up and cheer on athletes stomping around their domiciles. Additionally, the triathlon greeted an already active community, with several bikers and runners meeting triathletes on or near the course. Yankton’s Best Tri thus proved to be a great ambassador for a growing sport in our fine state. 

SDTriNews managed to snap a picture of every triathlete in at least one discipline if not all three. Athletes, friends, family, and anyone who enjoys gawking at people in spandex can find them at our Facebook page here

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Winner Winner WINNER!

Clockwise from the left are SDTA top five men with winner Matt Decker, 2nd place Kevin Mitchell, 3rd place Joel Greve, 5th Michael Martin, and 4th place Lance Bergeson.

Clockwise from the left are SDTA top five men with winner Matt Decker, 2nd place Kevin Mitchell, 3rd place Joel Greve, 5th Michael Martin, and 4th place Lance Bergeson.

After nineteen weeks of training and racing, two-postponed races, and literally hundreds of connections made, the South Dakota Triathlon Association’s inaugural season ended with a bang and two humble winners.

Matt Decker, the come-from-behind victor, and Brigitte Setness, the hold-onto-the-top-by-the-skin-of-her-teeth winner, topped the podium for the very first men’s and women’s SDTA series.

These two worthy winners had some stiff competition and close runner-ups in each of their given divisions.

Decker managed to secure his win with a victory in Watertown at the Hyvee Mini Tri at Lake Kampeska. Up until the three races prior to that, Decker was virtually an unknown in the circuit, having placed in the top ten in Madison and then seemingly disappearing until the championship race in Huron (unbeknownst to the rest of the tri world, Decker was nursing a major illness throughout the June and early July season).

Second place finisher Kevin Mitchell looked like a sure winner until Decker stepped back into the mix in August. Mitchell put together solid races in each event he participated in, and we particularly enjoyed watching the few seconds he took in T2. That guy is smoking fast.

Joel Greve crossed the Nebraska border a handful of times to show us how they do triathlon down south and move his way solidly into the third place position. Lance Bergeson proved to be the fastest man on two legs (at least at many of the SDTA races) and literally ran his way to fourth place in the standings. And young Michael Martin rounds out the top five in the final SDTA standings. Martin participated in a handful of races with some fabulous results, placing in the top ten in four of the eight races and winning Wall Lake.

The women’s race turned out some pretty speedy gals and a very close victory for Setness. The final points tally have Setness a mere five points ahead of veteran triathlete and coach Kathy Grady. Grady is a household name in the world of triathlon for those who haven’t been on the scene long, and Setness had her work cut out for her when she toed the line each race with her. We have a feeling we’ll be seeing these two ladies run neck and neck often in future.

Clockwise from left are SDTA women's top five finishers with winner Brigitte Setness, 2nd place Kathy Grady, 3rd place Emily Satter, 5th place Lisa Murphy, and 4th place Teresa VanHyfte.

Clockwise from left are SDTA women’s top five finishers with winner Brigitte Setness, 2nd place Kathy Grady, 3rd place Emily Satter, 5th place Lisa Murphy, and 4th place Teresa VanHyfte.

With her strong presence in the 29-under age bracket in every race on the circuit, Emily Satter secured a third place finish in the standings. Teresa VanHyfte participated in the final three races of the season as an individual after participating early in the season on a team. As a result, VanHyfte, who has had strong finishes in the past year, accumulated enough points to finish fourth. And Lisa Murphy, a local celebrity thanks to her interview on a Keloland story that brought even more light to South Dakota triathlon this spring, competed in seven of the eight races and landed in fifth place overall.

Congratulations to Setness and Decker as well as all of those who placed in the top five this season. Thanks to the formation of the SDTA, triathlon’s future has never looked so bright in our state. Winners of the series received a decent cash prize, some schwag, and their pictures on a poster at Scheels (we’ll be tweeting like crazy once those posters are unveiled).

Stay tuned to for feature articles on our winners on Monday.

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SDTA Masters: Age 50-over

Joel Greve, Craig Harrison, and Brian Williams topped the podium for the Men's 50-over division.

Joel Greve, Craig Harrison, and Brian Williams topped the podium for the Men’s 50-over division.

As reported yesterday, the future of triathlon in South Dakota looks bright. The amazing part of triathlon is how age does not necessarily determine success. The SDTA Master’s Division of 50 and over not only paves the way for the next generation of triathletes, but, quite frankly, the masters are the next generation of triathletes. These people aren’t going anywhere, and if they’re anything like the oldest triathletes that competed this year, they all have another 20 to 30 years of competition in them.

The men’s leader, Joel Greve, broke the top ten of all but one of the SDTA races he competed in, while Craig Harrison Harrison broke the top ten of every SDTA race he competed in. Brian Williams earned second place in his age group at both Wall Lake and Dakotaman, which gave him enough points for third place. All three men put up impressive scores and carry the physiques that ambassadors of health should have in our world of triathlon. In short, they most likely make their peers a little jealous and the rest of us a bit more inspired.

The women in the 50+ category had identical ambitions and physiques. Winner Mary Turner placed in the top ten of the women’s division in every SDTA race she competed in, and Betty Hanson broke the top ten in Outland and podiumed in both Aberdeen and Watertown. Angela Kalkbrenner was the age-group juggernaut with a win in Brookings and a silver in Madison. Again, these women, like the men, worked hard and continue to inspire us all.

Mary Turner, Betty Hanson, and Angela Kalkbrenner won the women's 50-over division.

Mary Turner, Betty Hanson, and Angela Kalkbrenner won the women’s 50-over division.

We would be remiss to not mention our two favorite triathlon legends at this point. Howard Bich competed in six of the eight SDTA events, including the one in which he was the race director. In short, Howard is a workhorse. Ironman legend Frank Farrar also graced a handful of SDTA events with his presence and always inspiring performance. It’s not just those who cross the line first, but those who just cross the line that inspire us.

Mens 50+

First Place: Joel Greve who placed 4th at Ravine, 2nd at Outland, 4th at Dakotaman, and 6th at Wall Lake.

Second Place: Craig Harrison who placed 2nd at Aberdeen, 5th at Outland, and 5th at Watertown.

Third Place: Brian Williams who placed 2nd Age Div at Wall Lake, and 2nd Age Div at Dakotaman.

Womens 50+

First Place: Mary Turner who placed 7th at Ravine, 5th at Aberdeen, 9th at Watertown.

Second Place: Betty Hanson who placed 8th at Outland, 2nd Age Div at Aberdeen, 3rd Age Div at Watertown.

Third Place: Angela Kalkbrenner who placed 1st Age Div at Brookings, 2ndAge Div at Madison.

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SDTA’s 29 and under: The Fast Future


Emily Satter, Barb Wehde, and Hanna Wahl topped the podium of the womens 29-under division.

Emily Satter, Barb Wehde, and Hanna Wahl topped the podium of the womens 29-under division.

The future of triathlon in South Dakota looks bright. While the 29 and under division of SDTA membership did not make up the majority of participants at races, this age bracket produced some fast and persistent talent. In particular, two teenagers made the cut for the top three of their age bracket, and some pretty speedy millennials as well.

Teen speedster Hanna Wahl may look familiar. She not only won the women’s division of the championship race at Ravine Lake, but she also participated on a team at Dakotaman. Additionally, though she didn’t make the top-three cut, we have to give a shout out to Katie Patrick, who chicked a good handful of men at Wall Lake and brings some serious promise to the landscape of our sport. We hope to see her at more SDTA events in the future.

Emily Satter, the women’s overall winner, showed definite promise as well as stamina. A runner at heart, Satter faithfully competed in all eight events while training for a fall marathon. Barb Wehde, the second place winner, took time out from her own busy schedule in Omaha to cross the border and show us the skills that made her such a great athlete for SDSU back in the day.

The young men showed stamina as well, with winner Michael Martin and second place Nathan Stearns both competing consistently in SDTA events while training for and completing 70.3 races (a half-ironman event). Jadon Johnson, the teen-boy superstar of SDTA, most likely competed in a handful of youth events for his Z3 team while putting out consistently strong performances in the SDTA circuit as well.

We enjoyed watching this age bracket compete knowing if they follow the footsteps of the Howard Biches and Frank Farrars of the world, they can continue to race for another fifty or even sixty years. That’s a lot of triathlons.

Womens 29& Under

1st Place: Emily Satter who took 5th at Ravine, 4th at Outland, 4th at Dakotaman, and 5th at Watertown. Incidentally, Emily was the only member to compete in all eight SDTA events.

2nd Place: Barbara Wehde who won Watertown and took 2nd at Outland.

3rd Place: Hanna Wahl who won the Ravine Lake Triathlon (the SDTA championship race).

Mens 29& Under

1st Place: Michael Martin who won Wall Lake and took 3rd at Dakotaman, 6th at Brookings, and 6th at Aberdeen.

2nd Place: Nathan Stearns who took 7th at Ravine, 6th at Madison, 2nd in his age division at Watertown. 

Michael Martin, Nathan Stearns, and Jadon Johnson won the mens 29-under division.

Michael Martin, Nathan Stearns, and Jadon Johnson won the mens 29-under division.


3rd Place: Jadon Johnson who took 8th at Dakotaman, 9th at Watertown, and 3rd in his age division at Ravine Lake. Johnson was the one male teenager we saw consistently competing at SDTA events.



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Rugged, Downhome, Multi-Sport Fun: Southern Hills Triathlon

Angostura Lake--picture courtesy of

Angostura Lake–picture courtesy of

Triathletes crave adventure by nature. East River triathletes still feeling their oats and looking for some new terrain do not need to cross the border to the land-of-10,ooo triathlons to find a Labor Day adventure. Instead of going east, they need to do a 180 and just go west to the Southern Hills Triathlon at Angostura Reservoir.

This event boasts of a down-home feel with almost exotically beautiful scenery compared to the flat land east of the river. Plus, Southern Hills is not your basic triathlon. It offers something for every member of the active family:

  • A sprint triathlon of a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike, and 5K run.
  • An olympic triathlon of a mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 10K run.
  • A duathlon (the only one in the state) of a 5K run, 12-mile bike, and 5K run.
  • A youth triathlon for ages 7-14 with a 100-yard swim, 4-mile bike, and 1-mile run.

Appealing to both newbies for their beautiful and safe venues and veterans for the adventurous appeal, Southern Hills race organizers are providing some much-appreciated updates worth noting including chip-timing (provided by Black Hills Multi-Sport) and long-sleeve tech shirts. This event offers distances and variety unlike other events in the state  including a night-before pasta feed (included in the modest registration fee) and homemade post-race food.  These West River people know how to take care of their athletes.

The kids triathlon features some unique elements as well. The age 12-14 division offers a prize for first place, but the ages 7-11 division is purely recreational. In fact, organizers even allow parents to swim, bike, and run alongside their little athletes, making this a truly family friendly (and fun) event.

Not only does the event provide  an excellent challenge for athletes, but it benefits the Hot Springs community. All proceeds from this event, organized by Friends of the Hot Springs Public Library, go to the Hot Springs Public Library to fund programs and purchase books, computers, and supplies.

Don’t let the name of the race organizers fool you, though.  These are not your average group of literacy lovers. Rather, you have a group of seasoned organizers, some of them triathletes themselves. Did we mention the Southern Hills Triathlon is celebrating their 17th year of existence? Most likely, those who attend this event will find a group of seasoned organizers who know what they’re doing and have the basic kinks worked out of the system.

East River athletes should take note of this particular event. The swim takes place in crystal clear water (according to SD Game Fish and Parks). The overall event offers scenery and hills unlike anything we have on this side of the river. The bike course has some nice rollers along with a couple of steep pitches. The run takes place completely on an asphalt trail around the lake with foot traffic only. Plus, who doesn’t like a pre-race and post-race spread.

Registration is open until Friday night, and the pre-race pasta feed and packet pickup starts at the Hot Springs Masonic Lodge at 5:30pm. Packet pick up resumes Saturday morning at 6am at the race venue, Breakers Beach at Angostura. The pre-race meeting will take plat at 7am, and the gun goes off for the Olympic athletes at 7:30 with the sprinters, duathletes, and kids starting sequentially after them.

So, athletes finding themselves with an itch to travel for the three-day weekend and experience something brand new, should consider the Southern Hills Triathlon. They could try their first duathlon, conquer the Olympic distance, sprint their way to the finish line, or help instill a love of triathlon in one of their little minions.

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