The indoor track season in Wyoming remains incredibly short, by comparison to all other Wyoming high school sports with the exception of possibly tennis and golf.
Under Wyoming High School Activities Association guidelines, teams are eligible for supervised practices on Dec. 31, with the first allowable meet date set for Jan. 10. And with the state meet to be held March 1-2 in Gillette, that gives athletes little time to qualify for the season’s ultimate meet. And the possible field for this year’s championship meet promises to be as loaded as ever.
Cheyenne Central returns a number of girls from the distance, middle-distance and relay-heavy team that captured the program’s first state championship since 2010, so the Tribe remain contenders after winning last year’s meet by 28 points.
Then there’s the Laramie boys, full of returners from the program’s second state championship. The Plainsmen held off a charge from Natrona County in 2018. It should be a tight race between the two programs again this year as the Mustangs return many athletes.
Then there’s the runners themselves who contribute to the team cause. Some get an opportunity to defend their titles while others aim for their own moment of glory in 2019.
Cheyenne Central senior Nico Vite has an opportunity to sweep the 55 and 200 after finishing tied for third and second, respectively, at last year’s state meet. Cody senior Jared Grenz could be his top opponent in the 55 and Thunder Basin junior Donovan Hoffman lurks in the 200 field. Laramie senior Jason Upton leads an open field to win the 400.
The field for the 800 remains wide open with only Rock Springs senior David Medina and Natrona County senior Sergio Martinez returning as top-10 finishers. Those two should also contend in the mile and 2-mile, along with Star Valley junior Peter Visser (coming off his cross-country championship), Natrona County senior Connor Etzelmiller and Evanston’s Weston Wiley (who won the 4A cross-country title in October).
Liam Greenelsh of Big Horn, the top returner in the 55 hurdles after finishing fourth last year, should likely be chased by Cheyenne Central senior Tanner Pafford and Thunder Basin junior Tyson Edwards.
All of the relay races are up in the air. No champion from 2018 returns the majority of its team for the 2019 season. Considering depth in the sprints, Cheyenne Central could challenge in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays as well as anyone. Sheridan remains a threat in those races as well. The 4x800 relay is slightly more of a lock, considering the depth of Star Valley’s in the distance races. Natrona County and Laramie stand as pre-season challengers as well. Then there’s the 1,600 sprint medley, which Rock Springs won last year but should be tested by both Laramie and Sheridan this season.
Natrona County senior Hunter Brown, who has already signed to compete at the University of Wyoming in track and field, could sweep the jumps. Brown won the long jump by 5 inches more than the next-best returning jumper (Laramie’s Upton) and came in second in the high jump on attempts, despite having the best seed height coming in. Brown is the top returning finisher in the triple jump after finishing second last year.
Kelly Walsh senior Ryan Foy leads a sparsely populated field in the pole vault, having finished third last season. Thunder Basin senior Ryan Kienzle stands as the favorite in the shot put. He finished second last year, more than 4 inches ahead of both Cheyenne East’s Scott Uglow and Natrona County’s Brendon Gustafson.
Sydney Holiday, a junior at Ten Sleep who runs indoor at Cody, returns to defend her crown in the 55. She could also win the 200, so long as Sheridan senior Kelly Moodry doesn’t surpass her. Moodry also returns to defend her championship in the 400 and 800 against a loaded field that could consistent of Thunder Basin junior Delaney Knottnerus, Cheyenne East senior Mackenzie Marler and Laramie junior Emmy Johnson.
The mile and 2-mile races could be the most competitive this season. Marler returns to defend her 1,600 championship against 4A cross-country champion, Cheyenne Central senior Claudia Miller; Cody sophomore Riley Smith; Laramie senior Emmy Heywood; Natrona County senior Avery Potter; and Evanston senior Brittany Barton.
Holiday also returns to defend her 55 hurdles championship against Thunder Basin junior Jozi Edwards, Sheridan’s Rachel Petersburg and a packed field.
The Laramie 4x200 relay team returns three of its four cogs in the reigning champions’ machine. Just one of those ran on the winning 4x400 team from last year, but that’s not likely to be the case in 2019. Cheyenne Central and Sheridan battled in the 4x800 relay last year and likely will again this year. Natrona County, which won the 4A girls cross-country team title, could have a shot as well. Sheridan returns half of its winning 1,600 sprint medley relay team.
Kelly Walsh senior Kailey Walker returns to defend her triple jump championship against Rock Springs senior Favour Wanjoku and Cheyenne Central senior Jenna Goodrich. Cheyenne Central senior Piper Barrett also returns to the field in 2019 to defend her high jump championship. She will likely have a spirited season with Cheyenne East junior Addy Turner, who she defeated on attempts at last year’s championship. The long jump field remains open with Kelly Walsh junior Tierney Robinson and Holiday, the Cody junior, the top contenders.
Cody sophomore Grace Shaffer, a pole vault prodigy, will be back to defend her state championship. Natrona County senior Kayla Stibley stands as the closest challenger to Shaffer. Cheyenne Central senior Kailtyn Migneault could be the heir to the shot put throne while Cheyenne South senior Rebecca Monahan returns after a fifth-place finish.