Pequot Lakes High School seniors Vanessa Lane and Tyler Tappe signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Pequot Lakes Athletic Center to receive scholarships to compete with Division I track and field programs next season.
Lane will be attending South Dakota State University and Tappe is heading to the University of Minnesota. The dual signings are rare for one sport at a smaller school, according to Pequot Lakes’ activities director Marc Helmrichs.
“Having one Division I athlete is neat, but having two in one year is a big deal, especially from the same sport,” said Helmrichs, who added that the two “are good role models as you can tell by the kids who came to watch today.”
More than two dozen people attended the national signing in the Pequot Lakes Activity Center. In attendance were family, friends and school representatives, like track and field head coach Dave Guenther and assistant coach Taylor Stevenson.
“It’s a credit to their hard work and determination,” Guenther said of Lane and Tappe. “It also shows the quality of our coaching staff and the support of the school. The parents are also a big part of the success.”
Stevenson agrees that Lane and Tappe are both an inspiration to younger athletes.
“It shows the ceiling can always be higher,” he said. “If you do the things that you need to, you can succeed. It’s a perfect model for the younger kids.”
Lane and Tappe, both three-sport athletes with the Patriots, began their track careers at a young age.
Lane showed promised early in her career, and was part of the Patriots’ 4x100-meter relay which claimed the school’s first Class A state title in girls’ track history. Last spring, Lane was again part of the state championship 4x100 relay, and also was the first Pequot Lakes’ individual to win a state girls’ title when she captured the 100 dash.
“I’ve had a goal to run at a Division I college since I was in seventh grade,” Lane said. “I’m excited to (attend SDSU). They have a good program, and a lot of support from the community.”
Lane may compete in the heptathlon (which includes multiple events) at SDSU, located in Brookings, S.D.
Tappe will primarily focus on pole vaulting at the U of M. He was worked with the Gophers’ assistant coach, Steve White, the past three years at offseason camps.
“It helped that I built a relationship with Coach White,” Tappe said. “I gained 14 inches on my vault every time I went to his camp.”
Last spring, Tappe finished second to senior Grant Krieger of Blake in the pole vault at the Class A state meet. Tappe and Krieger did share the state meet record with a vault of 15 feet, 6 inches. Krieger did set the record on his first attempt to earn the title.
Brian Kazmierczak, a former Pequot Lakes track coach who left last summer to become principal at Barnum High School, said he isn’t surprised by the success of Lane and Tappe.
“To go Division I was a goal they had for a long time,” Kazmierczak said. “And it was apparent by the time they were sophomores that they would reach that goal. They’ve both worked hard to make it.”