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Indoor Track

Natrona County's Hunter Brown practices his long jump form Wednesday at Natrona County High School's indoor track facility. 

Excitement was evident throughout the week at the Mustangs Activities Complex, all in anticipation of Saturday morning. The inaugural meet six years in the making is now just hours away.

Natrona County hosts its first indoor track meet on Saturday at its new indoor track facilities, which received finishing touches throughout the week. Field events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and running events are slated to start at 11:30 a.m.

In addition to beginning a new era of indoor track in Casper, the meet is also the ceremonial beginning to the season for a majority of teams in Wyoming. That means a crowded field will vie for the first gold medals handed out inside the new facility.

The girls field has three reigning champions in four different indoor events. Add in another two state champions from the outdoor season and this meet promises excitement.

Cheyenne Central won last year’s state meet on the strength of its distance runners. The Tribe still has Claudia Miller but she stands alone this year, leaving the door open for Laramie and Rock Springs. Cody is scheduled to compete, meaning Sydney Holiday will showcase the speed that won her gold in the 55-meter dash and 55-meter hurdles. It also means that sophomore Grace Shaffer, the returning pole vault champion, will compete as well.

Cheyenne East’s Mackenzie Marler, returning 1,600 champion, is back among a packed distance-running field. Then there’s Laramie’s Emmy Johnson, who could carry momentum of gold from the outdoor season inside for the winter.

The boys’ end of action this season should be wide open, making this weekend’s meet an important step forward for aspiring gold medalists. Natrona County’s Hunter Brown is one of two returning state indoor champions competing in Casper this weekend as he begins his defense of his long jump title. Cheyenne East’s Jefferson Danso beat Brown for the triple jump gold last season.

The field expands, though, when including gold medalists from last year’s outdoor meet. Cheyenne East’s Sam Hageman struggled through the indoor season but peaked in the outdoor at won the 200. Kelly Walsh’s Ryan Foy won the pole vault during last year’s outdoor season, having not been in the same field as the two vaulters from Cody, which forced him to settle for third at the state indoor meet.

Boys’ relays should make for an interesting competition as Cheyenne East returns most of its sprinters from last season, but so too does Natrona County and Rock Springs. And defending state champion Laramie typically has the athletes to compete in the distance races.

Saturday could become a statement meet for the host Mustangs, who took second at the indoor championship last season. In addition to Brown and relays, the Mustangs return a lot of talent across the board, including sprinter Chase Brachtenbach, who has constantly finished near the top in Wyoming but couldn’t capture gold last season.

Any rally for improvement — or even gold — starts when the gun sounds on Saturday morning, officially beginning the new season.

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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