For the last nine years at least one Casper team has stood atop the podium at the conclusion of the Wyoming State High School Class 4A Track and Field Championship.
The Natrona County girls won the title in 2009 to start the streak and won it again two years ago. The Natrona County boys have five state championships during that span (2010-11, 2013-15), while the Kelly Walsh girls (2011-12) and boys (2016-17) each have two.
All four teams expect to be in contention again when the state meet begins Thursday at Kelly Walsh’s Harry Geldien Stadium.
The NC boys and KW girls are each coming off championship performances at the West Regional meet this past weekend. The Trojans totaled 188 points to defeat Natrona County (142), while the Mustangs eked out a victory over Kelly Walsh (185.5-182).
After back-to-back fifth-place finishes at state, Natrona County has a legitimate shot to dethrone cross-town rival Kelly Walsh.
Led by junior Hunter Brown, the Mustangs won seven events at the regional meet. Brown — the defending state champ in the long jump and triple jump — was responsible for three of them as he won both lateral jumps as well as the 200. He finished second in the high jump for good measure.
Also winning regional titles for NC were juniors Chase Brachtenbach (100) and Brendon Gustafson (discus), senior Connor Henshaw (pole vault) and sophomore Connor Etzelmiller (3200).
The Trojans counter with a solid group of sprinters — Kelly Walsh had three of the top-seven finishers in both the 100 and 200 — senior Caige McComb, who won both the 110 and 300 hurdles at the regional meet, and impressive depth in the non-throwing field events.
Senior Caleb Nathan (400) and the 4x100 relay team of Nathan, McComb, senior Joey Zook and freshman Darius Wiggins also won regional gold.
Kelly Walsh wants to avoid a repeat of last year when the Trojans entered the state meet as regional champs, but finished sixth behind four East schools and Jackson.
With sophomore Taylor Rowe leading the charge at the regional meet last weekend, the Trojans grabbed the top-four spots in the 100 and finished 3-4-5 in the 200.
Senior Maddison Dedic won both the shot put and the discus as she looks to add a discus title to the gold she won in shot put last year.
Natrona County had just one individual champion — junior Kayla Stibley in the pole vault — at the regional meet, but has a lot of young talent that could rise to the challenge of the big stage this weekend.
The Fillies got 45.5 points at the regional meet from either freshmen or sophomores.