If Taylor Thue seems to be a natural born runner, she probably is. Running- well, it runs in her family. Taylor broke a school record this year in the 300-meter hurdles, so soon her name will be added to the record board in the MHS Armory. The same board where they painted her grandfather’s name, Arlen Conrad, over 50 years ago. “It’s wonderful and special,” Taylor and Arlen agreed. “We must be the only grandparent-grandchild pair to have school records at the same time. It probably won’t happen again.”
Set in 1964, Arlen holds one of the oldest track records in MHS history. He was a member of the 1,600-meter relay team. “I can’t believe that record still stands after all those years,” he said.
Arlen and his relay team set the record during the prelims of the state track meet and went on to finish third overall. “It rained most of the day,” he recalled. “Rapid City Central and Sioux Falls Washington were the only teams to beat us.” Russ Schmeichel ran the opening leg, Dave Loeschke the second, Arlen took the third lap, and Gerald Hermans was the anchor.
He also remembered that back in 1964, all the tracks were made of cinder. “Every summer, Coach Rollie Greeno and I would take a two-wheel trailer to the power plant in Ortonville, load it up with cinders, and bring it back to spread them around the track. I don’t know how many trips we must have made.”
Arlen was also involved in football, basketball, wrestling, and Legion baseball. He was named to the Argus Leader Elite 45 his senior year of football and was a member of the team that collected a 36-1 record. “We lost to Canton 13-7 and only because of several turnovers.”
He played basketball until he decided to make the switch to wrestling as a senior. Rollie was my coach for every sport from middle school through high school. When I switched to wrestling my senior year, he switched to wrestling, too. He was very influential in my sports career.”
Throughout the years, the Conrad name has appeared in Milbank’s track records and on sports honor roll lists. Arlen’s nephew, Ryan Conrad, holds two individual high school track records and several middle school records. Arlen and his wife, Cheryl, have three children, Sara, Amy, and Chris. Each have their names scattered throughout the MHS sports honor rolls as does Sara’s son, Jalen.
In addition to her record in the 300 hurdles, Taylor holds four middle school records. She is also second on the MHS sports honor roll in the 100-meter hurdles and is a member of two relays also on the honor roll.
Taylor explained when she began high school track, she was a distance runner. It was her mom, Amy, who encouraged her to follow in her footsteps and try hurdles. “I saw right away that it came so naturally to her,” said Amy.
Taylor feels having her mom as a volunteer coach has been a big benefit. “She is there guiding my every step, telling me what to do, and when to warm up.
“I can push her limits and know what she can and can’t take,” Amy said. “Sometimes it can be difficult, though. There are times when I find myself slipping back into the mom mode, but I would never give this up.”
Taylor hopes next season to break the record in the 100-meter hurdles. “My goal this year, was to break the 100’s record. I was just trying to qualify for state in the 300’s and breaking the record just kinda happened.” She said she plans to work in the off-season to get faster and quicker. She might have gotten that idea from her grandfather, too.
Arlen said he feels an athlete’s off-season work is essential to their success. “You never can work too hard. You can’t expect to be 100% during the season if you don’t work hard in between seasons.”
Taylor will be a sophomore at MHS this fall. She still has lots of time to work on her running. But even if she doesn’t break any more records, the one she and her grandfather share and the bond it has formed is likely to last a lifetime.