Due to the winter weather and projected snowfall across the southeastern part of the state, teams invaded Cheyenne for the annual Okie Blanchard Invitational on Thursday instead of Friday, which suited the participating athletes just fine.
Twelve teams packed into Okie Blanchard Stadium. Two teams — the Laramie boys and Kelly Walsh girls — emerged victorious in the team standings while dozens of individuals exited the prestigious track meet as champions in their own right.
One day after signing her letter of intent to throw at the University of Wyoming, Kelly Walsh senior Maddison Dedic won both the shot put (39 feet, 4.25 inches) and discus (129-06) to help lead the Trojans’ charge. Sophomore Taylor Rowe in the 200 (27.12 seconds) and junior Kailey Walker in the triple jump (35-11) were the only other Kelly Walsh individuals to finish first. The Kelly Walsh sprint medley team of Alexis White, Ashton McComb, Emily Kruse and Nya Farnsworth cruised to a win in 4:34.70.
Rawlins freshman Sydney Thorvaldson swept the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. She finished the 1,600 in 5:07.53, just over 14 seconds ahead of second-place Mackenzie Marler of Cheyenne East. Her 3,200-meter time of 11:03.61 would have broken the Class 3A state record (11:04.99) set by Brittanie Saunders of Douglas back in 2002. However, under Wyoming High School Activities Association rules, in order to officially break the state record, the time must be accomplished at the state meet.
Cheyenne Central senior Maeci Jackson won the 100 and long jump while another Tribe senior, Emma Brownell, barely defeated Cheyenne East’s Madison Blaney in the 300 hurdles. Brownell finished in 49.48 seconds while Blaney was a fraction behind at 49.49 seconds. Blaney did win the 100 hurdles. East also earned a victory in the high jump from sophomore Addy Turner.
Laramie took third in the girls standings but still had a considerable presence on the medal stand. Sophomore Aubry Sanchez won the pole vault, sophomore Emmy Johnson eased to gold in the 400 and senior Abigail Whitman held on in the 800 by running a personal record 2:20.24. The Plainsmen also won the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
The Laramie boys won the team standings on the back of seven event victories. Junior Jason Upton won both the long jump and triple jump while senior teammate Albert Steiner earned gold in both the 800 and 1,600. Senior Erik Zafft won the pole vault while classmate Tyler Dahl eased to victory in the 400. The Plainsmen also won the 4x400 relay.
Senior Caige McComb helped power the Kelly Walsh boys to a second-place finish after sweeping the 110 and 300 hurdles. Earlier this week McComb announced he will run hurdles at the University of Wyoming next school year.
Wheatland standout sprinter Roman Smith earned gold in both the 100 and 200 . Cheyenne Central earned two individual golds, one from senior Ryan Leach in the 3,200 and one from sophomore Tanner Bullock in the discus. The Tribe also earned gold as a team in the 4x800 relay.
Torrington junior Bryan Lemmon held on to win the high jump, registering a personal-best mark of 6-05. Cheyenne East junior Scott Uglow won the shot put and the Thunderbirds also earned gold with the 1,600 sprint medley relay team of Sam Hageman, Dakota Merritt, Pete Mead and Colton Best.
Focus turns to large track meets in Riverton and Rock Springs on Saturday. Central Wyoming programs are scheduled to compete at the Roy Peck Invitational at Riverton High School while western Wyoming programs are registered for the Meet of Hope in Rock Springs.