The first indoor track meet at Natrona County’s Mustangs Activities Complex was apparently as anticipated throughout the state as it was for those who practiced inside it for the past two weeks.
Over 650 athletes, 100 coaches and countless spectators filled the complex throughout Saturday. A majority of them purchased ceremonial shirts, which promoted the “First meet at the MAC.” Just 3 hours after the first field events began the Natrona County boosters were out of small and medium sizes.
Teams from Wyoming typically start the season at the annual Stadium Sports Grill Open in Spearfish, South Dakota. Instead, so many came to participate in Casper that it significantly diminished the field in Spearfish.
If given the option, teams prefer to stay in-state for meets. With only indoor facilities in Laramie and Gillette, they were forced to wait for another possible location. By the time running events got underway on Saturday it was clear that the new facility was worth the nearly six-year wait.
“It’s super nice,” Natrona County jumper Hunter Brown said. “It’s crazy to be able to practice in an indoor facility that we can compete at also. Last year it was just concrete everywhere and just shin splits. This year it’s a lot softer and a lot more convenient.”
The Mustangs’ senior began his quest for sweeping gold on his home soil. He won gold in the long jump last year but took second in the triple jump and high jump. He’s hoping to improve on those results this season and took the first step toward doing so on Saturday.
Another athlete looking for improvement is Kelly Walsh senior Nicole Klungness. She first tried indoor track last season and admitted to falling in love with it. She returned this season to the sprints, competing in the 55-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash at the Natrona County Indoor Meet.
“It feels really great to be back on the track,” she said. “I felt super-confident in my hurdle race. I improved from last year so that’s really exciting.”
Klungness finished in the front pack of her heat in the 55 hurdles. She immediately cracked a smile, showing her satisfaction with her finish.
Shortly before the hurdles began there was a rematch of the state meet at the high jump pit. Cheyenne East’s Addy Turner and Cheyenne Central’s Piper Barrett went toe-to-toe for high jump glory once again on Saturday. Last year Barrett won on attempts with both finishing at 5-feet.
“It felt great and all the work from this summer paid off,” Barrett said. “That’s for sure.”
Once again Turner and Barrett bowed out at the same time, as neither could clear 5-6. Turner ultimately took gold, clearing 5-4 with fewer misses. That’s already given the Central standout motivation going forward.
“Definitely going to surpass that at the next meet,” she said.
Team results were not kept at the meet and individual event results were not available by Star-Tribune press deadlines.