They decided to split the triathlon into three legs — and each came away with their own unique experience.
Three Knox County natives teamed up to compete in Crofton’s Dam Race on Saturday.
In their first-ever triathlon experience, Kayla Eisenhauer of Bloomfield joined Creighton natives and sisters, Theresa Hansen of Crofton and Rachel Costello of Omaha.
Hansen, 37, paddled the kayak 1.5 miles, before Eisenhauer, 30, ran the 5K portion and Costello, 28, rode her bike 12 miles over hilly terrain to cross the finish line. The race started on the shore of Lewis and Clark Lake traveled through the Weigand Campground, and ended in downtown Crofton.
This unique race allowed competitors to do all three portions themselves or compete with a team of two or three with each teammate taking on a separate leg.
Hansen said she brought up the idea to her friend and sister.
“I wanted to do it last year and didn’t get a team put together, so we decided we’re going to go in together and each do a part of it,” she said. “That way, it wasn’t too overwhelming.”
In early May, Hansen said her team was quickly put together.
“I think I sent out one message and we were all like, ‘Yep, let’s do it,’” she said. “I knew I wanted to be a part of it somehow because last year’s looked really fun, and it’s just a really cool thing for the area. And the lake is a beautiful place to be.”
Instantly, Eisenhauer said she’d like to take on the 5K run. So that left the kayak and bike legs.
“Kayla knew she wanted to run, so then it was just between the two of us,” Hansen said pointing back and forth between herself and her sister. “And I had just bought a bike,” Costello added with a smile.
So it was settled.
Eisenhauer, who grew up in Bloomfield and graduated in 2007, now resides in her hometown with her husband Kyle and three girls and serves as the city clerk.
“I didn’t really train specifically for this,” she said before the race. “But, I exercise 5 to 6 days a week and I run pretty regularly.”
Hansen, who is a 2000 Creighton High School grad and now lives in Crofton, said she and her husband Aaron started kayaking with their three children a couple years ago.
“We’ve been taking the kayaks out on the lake more often near Devils Nest, and I’ve done that several times, so I feel like that helps keep my endurance up,” said Hansen, who works as a family nurse practitioner. “So I feel like I’m as prepared as I’ll be.”
Her younger sister is a 2009 Creighton graduate who now resides in Omaha with her husband Rick and is employed as an interior designer.
Costello wasn’t feeling as confident about her biking leg of the race.
“I got a new bike, but I don’t really ride it,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t know how it’s going to go.”
In the end, they each thought their section of the race was challenging.
“It was harder than I expected, but the second half was easier,” Hansen said of the kayaking. “I was so glad I did it.”
Eisenhauer said it was pretty hot for her portion, but “it was a beautiful run.”
Biking through the steep hills was the toughest leg of the race and worse than she had even expected, according to Costello.
“It was absolutely worse,” she said after the race. “All of the hills were terrible, absolutely awful. I struggled on the first hill. It was hard.”
Two of the three said they would definitely compete in the event again. Costello said if she’s being “brutally honest,” she won’t be taking on the 12-mile bike ride in the hills anytime soon, but she would still encourage others to try it.
“I say, ‘Give it a go,’” she said.
Two Knox County athletes were crowned the overall winners of Crofton’s 2nd Annual Dam Race on Saturday.
Tyler Janssen of Crofton and Jackie Freeman of Bloomfield earned first place in the individual male and female triathlons. It was Freeman’s second-straight championship.
The 2019 race — a triathlon that featured a 1.5-mile kayak route, a 5K run and a 12-mile bike ride — was the biggest one to date. Competitors also had the option of running a half marathon or racing in a 12-mile bike ride.
“We had more than 130 athletes this year, which is more than double the entries we had in our first year,” organizer Heidi Marsh said.
The unique triathlon event began at the Weigand beach, located north of Crofton. Competitors started by kayaking around buoys set up on Lewis and Clark Lake, running through the Weigand campground and biking on roads over the hilly terrain into Crofton.
Jane (Steffen) Wright, 69, of Idaho was the oldest competitor in the race and the youngest was Karson Vander Ziel of Iowa.
The top three winners in each division were recognized:
Overall: 1. Tyler Janseen, Crofton, 1:28:30.67; 2. Jason Orr, Yankton, So.Dak, 1:32:32.58; 3. Craig Marsh, Crofton, 1:33:07.28. 14-19: 1. Karson Vander Ziel, Rock Valley, Iowa, 1:43:53.72; 2. Ashton Higgins, Neligh, 1:50:05.35; 3. Griffin Claussen, Neligh, 1:52:10.80. 20-29: 1. Jake Neuhalfen, Crofton, 1:39:17.44; 2. Sam Anderson, Hartington, 1:43:24.65; 3. Tanner Schumacher, Sioux Falls, So.Dak., 1:47:00.42. 30-39: 1. Devin Anderson, Yankton, So.Dak, 1:41:42.11; 2. Ken Kopetsky, Yankton, So.Dak, 1:41:42.28; 3. Trevor Teadtke, Niobrara, 1:42:01.74. 40-49: 1. Mark Nielsen, Omaha, 1:51:06.57; 2. Shannon Hendren, Neligh, 2:03:09.04; 3. Brady Marlow, Lincoln, 2;04:17.96. 50-59: 1. Jeff Steffen, Crofton, 1:42:15.01; 2. Neal Neuhalfen, Crofton, 2:02:09.58; 3. Duane Schumacher, Bloomfield, 2:09:50.37. 60 & Over: 1. Neil Kirby, Elkhorn, 1:43:08.80; 2. Terry Osborn, Valentine, 1:55:18.75.
Overall: 1. Jackie Freeman, Bloomfield, 1:35:52.69; 2. Glenda Bittner, Sioux Falls, So.Dak, 1:37:54.93; 3. Whitney Podzimek, Avon, So.Dak., 1:38:45.76. 14-19: None. 20-29: 1. Dayjia Castillo, Yankton, So.Dak, 1:56:58.74.30-39: 1. Jenna Ranek, Tyndall, So.Dak, 1:40:08.46; 2. Whitney Delforge, Yankton, So.Dak., 1:42:07.31; 3. Jayna Wagner, Tabor, So.Dak., 1:49:30.50. 40-49: 1. Melanie Hartung, Laurel, 1:43:44.89; 2. Dawn Sherlock, Lincoln, 1:49:28.59; 3. Lisa Vander Ziel, Rock Valley, Iowa, 1:57:07.23. 50-59: 1. Karen Huston, Fremont, 1:51:50.09; 2. Sheila Loecker, Fordyce, 1:58:03.21; 3. Mary Spreng, Arion, Iowa, 2:05:10.80. 60 & Over: 1. Jane Wright, Star, Idaho, 2:10:07.33; 2. Marilyn Davie, Denison, Iowa, 2:15:11.07.
Team Relay: 1. 116, Wayne, 1:25:36.49; 2. The Van Heeks, Crofton, 1:36:54.28; 3. Two Blondes and a Brunette, Crofton, 1:38:36.73.
Youth Relay: 1. Young Warriors, Crofton, 1:49:12.84.
Men’s Overall: 1. Joshua Monson, Yankton, So.Dak, 1:30:25.83; 2. Darrin Pater, Adrian, Minn., 1:55:35.36. Women’s Overall: 1. Jennifer Bauer, Niobrara, 1:51:47.27; 2. Moriah Bullerman, Adrian, Minn., 1:55:35.72; 3. Lacy Donnelly, Elk Point, So. Dak., 2:22:06.34.
Men’s Overall: 1. Dave Fosbinder, Fremont, 44:56.19; 2. Joe Guenther, Omaha, 58:24.67; 3. Martin Drueke, O’Neill, 1:02:25.47. Women’s Overall: 1. Beth Rye, Yankton, So.Dak., 45:43.17; 2. Jolene Steffen, Crofton, 49:36.79; 3. Julie Meirose, Hartington, 1:19:01.84.
It was three against one.
The Steffen family decided to add a bit of friendly competition to Crofton’s Dam Race on Saturday.
Jane (Steffen) Wright, a senior athlete from Idaho, traveled back to her hometown for the unique triathlon experience. Her nephews, Doug and Craig Steffen of Crofton, along with Doug’s daughter Abby, split up the legs to team up against their Aunt Jane.
Craig, 39, paddled the kayak, 15-year-old Abby ran and Doug, 40, biked — while their 69-year-old aunt and the oldest competitor in the entire race — did all three legs herself.
Jane said her niece Karen Arens from Crofton sent her the race information a few months ago.
“I thought I could tie in a visit to my family and it looked really interesting,” she said were her reasons for signing up for the race.
A retired accountant, Jane is no stranger to triathlon competitions.
“I just got back from the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” she said. “I did the triathlon and swam in the swim meet. I placed 5th nationally.”
The younger Steffens said deciding who would compete on each leg was an easy decision.
“Abby is in cross country so that made sense. And I told Doug I wasn’t biking, so that left kayaking,” Craig said with a smile.
Doug and his teammates agreed that his 12-mile bike ride was probably the toughest of the three.
“After that second hill, my thighs were telling me I had the toughest leg,” Doug said.
Jane said she loved having so many family members there cheering her on.
“That’s what kept me going,” Doug agreed.
In the end, the trio edged out their aunt by just under seven minutes, 2:03:25 to 2:10:07.
“It takes three of us to beat her,” Craig said, chuckling.
“They need to up their game,” Jane quipped back. “I’m like 30 years older than they are.”
Besides, she still left a winner. Jane won the women’s 60 and older division by more than five minutes.
“Winning is fun,” she said with a medal around her neck and a wide grin.
Twice the number of entries made Crofton's 2nd Annual Dam Race on Saturday the biggest one to date.
The overall male and female winners of the 1.5 mile kayak, 5K run and 12 mile bike were Tyler Janssen of Crofton and Jackie Freeman of Bloomfield. Click here for complete results.
A huge photo gallery is posted below:
Crofton will once again host a triathlon event featuring running, biking and — instead of swimming — kayaking.
Scheduled for Saturday, July 27, the event coined Crofton’s Dam Race will start with a 1.5-mile kayak on Lewis & Clark Lake from the Weigand swim beach, followed by a 5K run through the campground and finish with a 12-mile bike ride into Main Street Crofton. A celebration and meal will be served at the Haymarket and Pulley Museum.
The kayaking event is a unique twist on the traditional triathlon. “We want this to be a fun and safe event for athletes of all abilities,” says Johnnie Ostermeyer, Crofton High School principal and a race coordinator. Kayaks will be available for participants who don’t have access to them.
Athletes can participate as an individual doing all three legs of the race, or as a team of two or three. Registration is online at AllSportsCentral.com by searching Crofton’s Dam Race. Updates are available on the Facebook event page.
The committee has added two additional opportunities for individual competitors this year: a half marathon and 12-mile bike ride. Both of these individual events will start at Weigand swim beach and finish on Main Street in Crofton. Additional safety precautions are being implemented for runners and bikers along the highway into Crofton.
Last year, Crofton’s Dam Race hosted 60 athletes and their families, plus nearly 50 volunteers. The committee anticipates an increase in participants, especially with the added events.
Crofton’s Dam Race is hosted by an eight-person committee in coordination with the Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area and Weigand Marina. Proceeds from the race benefit recreation projects in Crofton. For more details, call Johnnie Ostermeyer at (402)508-0224 or Heidi Marsh (605) 660-4498.
It takes two rooms for former Crofton coach Gail Peterson to display all of his coaching awards, plaques and certificates. Peterson will have to make room for his biggest award yet, as the former coach will be inducted into the National High School Athletic Coach Association Hall of Fame.
“It feels pretty good,” Peterson stated. “It is quite an honor. There are so darn many to thank that I don’t want to forget anyone. My family, the people in town and the parents. There are so many in all of those years. There were some years tougher than others, but they were good church-going people and hard working.”
The 80-year-old has been a staple of Crofton athletics since 1963. The longtime Crofton coach started his teaching and coaching career in Cortland, where he grew up, but moved to Crofton going into the ’63 school year.
Since then, Peterson has held several different coaching positions. In his first few years at Crofton, he was the assistant football coach. For eight seasons he served as the head basketball coach and also ran the powerlifting squad.
“When I first came here, I was the line coach in football and the cross country coach,” Peterson noted. “Sometimes we had some cross county meets during halftime of the football games. So they would just take their pads off, go run a cross country meet and then continue to play football. Their halftime break was to go run.”
However, Peterson is most remembered for his time as the cross country and track and field coach. For 38 years, Peterson helped guide Crofton on the course and the track. Peterson helped build a dynasty in Knox County that began shortly after he took over. Peterson credits his diverse coaching background to his successful career.
“It made a difference,” Peterson remarked. “We did a lot of plyometrics in all of the sports I coached. Every sport was different lifting. Some have them do all the same (lifts), but I didn’t. Everything was different, but there were a few similarities.”
Peterson, who is already in the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame, started the girls cross country team in 1980. After finishing sixth at state in their inaugural season, the Lady Warriors captured eight straight state championships.
“I taught powerlifting when the girls (cross country) started, and some of the girls were in my powerlifting class,” Peterson recalled. “The first year we didn’t do to good, but then we went on to win eight in a row. We had some very good people.”
Peterson’s rugged training methods helped build the foundation for the Crofton dynasty.
“I had them do ridiculous things and they did it,” Peterson added. “We had a big high school, that’s tore down now, and it had three floors. We would usually do a lot of running on the steps. I made them go up and down the three flights. Every step for speed, every other for power and jump one legged. I had them do a lot of that stuff. We had a lot of hilly ground to run on, so we went out and ran on the roads. I’d take them out about a half mile and unload them at the city dam. It was three to four miles away from the course, so we would run to the course and then run quarters and halves up the hill. Kube farm let us use their pasture, so we went out there a lot. I’d take them to the county line and they had to run five to six miles, then had them jump on an airdyne bike for another two or three miles. We also did a lot of box jumping for plyometrics and a lot of harness running. After meets, I’d dropped them off a mile and half outside the school and had them run back. They worked hard.”
Peterson’s Warriors captured 15 state titles and eight state runners-up in cross country. The boys squad qualified for state in 36 of Peterson’s 38 years of coaching. The longtime coach is the first person to give the credit to the athletes and believes it is the Crofton mindset that continues to feed the Warriors’ success today.
“The parents raise their kids to have good work ethic as they come up,” Peterson commented. “They are not scared to work. They listen and they believe in you. They worked hard and they had good parents. That really helped out. The kids are used to hard work. They’re feeding cattle and pigs early in the morning. The farmers worked the kids pretty hard. We had some Tramp kids that were good runners and they milked cows early in the morning and the ones that went out for track or cross country I told them to run all the way home and it was four or five miles. So that was there workout on some nights.”
The biggest surprise is that prior to the 1963 season. Peterson had no connection to cross country or distance running.
“I had no experience,” Peterson admitted. “There were only two head coaches in those days, me and the football coach. I got every magazine and everything I could on cross country. I read up on a lot of that stuff and we tried a lot of things.”
In 2002, Peterson stepped down as head coach of the cross country and track and field teams. However, his former mentee Rod Hegge - who took over for Peterson in track - asked him to stay on staff as the assistant coach and to coach distance. The two worked perfectly together and helped the Lady Warriors win six state crowns and crown numerous individual champions.
“They needed someone in defiance running,” Peterson said. “He (Hegge) mentioned about helping me out and I told him if I had time. I had grandkids participating and if there was a state meet or something, I’d go see my grandkids. I did that, but was also at practice and almost every meet.”
His cross country team also continued its strong tradition after Peterson retired. Jayne Arens, who replaced Peterson in 2002, took over the program and led Crofton to 11 state titles, including a stretch of 10 consecutive girls Class D championships.
Peterson’s legacy can be seen across Northeast Nebraska as several cross country programs have grown into competitive, high-quality teams.
“Plainview has tough teams, and (Duane) Wilken (Bloomfield’s head cross country and track and field coach) always has good teams,” Peterson said. “I coached Duane, and he’s a heck of a coach. He gets them going and gets everything out of them. There are a lot of good coaches around. The area has really helped kids.”
This past season, which was his 57th year coaching, was his final year.
Peterson will be enshrined on June 25 in Bismarck, ND. Despite some recent health issues, the former Warrior coach plans to be in attendance.
“People keep asking if he’ll go, but I don’t see why not,” remarked Peterson’s wife Wanda Peterson. “There’s no reason why he can’t be there. He might need help getting there, but he’ll be there.”
Despite receiving one of the nation’s highest honors, nothing stacks up to Peterson watching his former athletes succeed, on and off the field.
“To see them afterwards is bigger than anything,” Peterson concluded. “To see their accomplishments is special.”
The students of the term program has been a great success over the years. It is sponsored by the following local businesses: Steffen’s Service Station, Wiebalhaus Recreation, Sports Stop, Subway, and the Crofton Journal.
The businesses supply gift certificates to the students for their hard work. Students are nominated by teachers for many reasons not just grades. Some of the reason students were nominated are helping faculty and staff, tutoring students that are struggling, coming in for extra help before and after school, or just for being a good classmate. Teachers can nominate a high school student and a junior high student.
Student of the Term for Term 4 are Valerie Kaiser and Nolan Babcock.
Other students nominated in the high school were: Lauren Buschkamp, Tomas Stewart, Kelsey Schroeder, Alexis Suing, Quinn Schieffer, Jayden Jordan, Sabrina Kaiser, Dannielle Steffen, Nathen Schmidt, Colby Zuhlke, Ethan Tramp, Karley Schieffer, Connor Dahl, Paul Konechne and Sam Tejral.
Other students nominated for junior high were: Hannah Schieffer, Edison Sudbeck, Thomas Maibaum, Kody Kleinschmidt, Jeffery Birger, Kendall Thoene, Ty Tramp, Blair Jordan and Brianna Berger.
Mount Marty College (MMC) in Yankton, South Dakota, recently announced the commitment of Mariah Dather. A 2019 Crofton Community Schools graduate, Dather will attend MMC this fall and compete for the Lancers archery program.
Dather, daughter of Roger and Julie Dather of Crofton, NE, is the 2016 Nebraska State 4-H Outdoor Freestyle champion and member of the Nebraska team competing at 4H Shooting Sports National Championships in the female compound division. “My main archery accomplishment that I am proud of is qualifying an participating at National 4H for Nebraska. I am also proud of helping younger 4-H members learn to shoot and being a role mode. My love for the sport started while watching two sisters in our county 4-H so I hope that I have helped spark the love of the sport to younger members.”
Asked what interested her to Mount Marty College and the Lancer archery program, Dather replied, “The location of the Mount Marty College and small class size are what interested me along with having my major. The Lancers practice at my home range [NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center] so I have been able to watch them practice, grow and compete at the national level which has been exciting to me.” Commenting further on what her goals are at The Mount, Dather adds, “I am hoping to grow as an individual, create lifelong friendships, earn a degree in business and then go out into the workforce with a job that I look forwards to going to every day and enjoy. While doing that, I plan to enjoy being on the MMC archery team and continuing to grow as a competitive archer.”
“I’m very excited to welcome Mariah to the Lancer program,” said Josahan “Jos” Jaime-Sambrano, MMC archery head coach. “Mariah is a home-grown archer, very talented, who has been an active member of the 4-H shooting sports community for years. She’ll be a great addition to Mount Marty College.”
Attention Lake area residents, come on down and meet Crofton Fire and Rescue at a meet and greet. Along with Yankton County Search and Rescue, Knox and Cedar County police departments. The meet and greet will be held Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center Picnic shelter, Hwy 121. There will be equipment demo's, hot dogs and cool trucks.