The weather was less than ideal Saturday for the final day of the 2019 Wyoming State High School Track and Field Championships in Casper.
Temperatures in the low 40s and a steady rain that sometimes turned to snow might have made for miserable conditions to watch from the stands at Kelly Walsh’s Harry Geldien Stadium, but the performances on the track made it worth the effort.
The Wyoming High School Activities Association officials deserve credit for making sure all the field events were completed Friday. There were surprisingly few slip-ups on the track Saturday, but that wouldn’t have been the case if events like the triple jump and high jump had been held on Saturday as originally scheduled.
That being said, here are a few highlights from the weekend.
Thrice as nice
Ten Sleep’s Kelli Holiday, Rawlins’ Sydney Thorvaldson, Wind River’s Mindy Russell and Lingle-Fort Laramie’s Kaelyn Riley all won three individual events, with Holiday, Thorvaldson and Russell also running a leg on a winning relay team.
Holiday won Class 1A titles in the 400-meter dash and the 800- and 1600-meter runs. The senior won both the 800 and 1600 for the fourth consecutive year, while it was her third 400 title in a row.
Thorvaldson, a sophomore, remained undefeated at state as she defended her 3A championship in the 800, 1600 and 3200. She capped her impressive weekend by running the 1600 in 5 minutes, 0.52 seconds to break her own class record.
Although she didn’t break any state records, Russell was just as impressive. The junior won the 2A 100, 200 and 400 — all on Saturday. Her time of 56.34 seconds in the 400 was not only a personal best but earned her a Best of the Best award.
While Riley didn’t run on a relay team, she did win individual gold in the 100, 200 and long jump.
Double dose of speed
Winning the 100 doesn’t automatically mean the same runner will win the 200, but that was the case Saturday.
For the boys, Star Valley’s Wyatt Moore (4A), Buffalo’s Cody Milmine (3A), Big Horn’s Colton Bates (2A) and Western Heritage Lutheran Academy’s Kaden Dower all doubled their pleasure.
Sprint doubles for the girls went to Kelly Walsh’s Taylor Rowe (4A), Worland’s Kait Wassum (3A), Russell (2A) and Riley (1A).
Of the eight, Dower was the only one who won a sprint title last year when his 100 victory was the program’s first state championship.
Movin’ on up
Due to reclassification, Star Valley, Cody and Riverton both went from 3A to 4A this year. But the move to the state’s largest classification didn’t seem to bother a few athletes.
Star Valley’s Moore and Peter Visser (3200), Riverton’s Naya Shime (100 hurdles) and Cody’s Paige Powell (high jump) and Grace Shaffer (pole vault) all won gold.
The move to 4A was even more impressive for Powell, who had competed for Class 1A Encampment the past three years.
Six freshman got their state track careers off to a flying start by taking home individual gold medals.
For the girls, Cokeville’s Kylee Dayton won the high jump, Wyoming Indian’s Larissa McElroy the 3200, Pine Bluffs’ Jordan Stoddard the high jump and Tongue River’s Carleigh Reish the long jump.
Winning state titles in their inaugural appearance for the boys were Mountain View’s Connor Micheli and Sheridan’s Ryan Karajanis, both of whom won the pole vault in 3A and 4A, respectively.
The Cokeville girls scored 194.5 points to top runner-up Ten Sleep by 136.5 points in 1A while the Big Horn boys bested second-place Glenrock by 72 points in 2A.
Cokeville actually scored enough points in the two hurdle races to win the meet. The Panthers went 1-2-3-4-8 (30 points) in the 100 hurdles and 1-2-3-4-6 (32 points) in the 300 hurdles for 62 points, which would have put them four points in front of the Pioneers.
Big Horn, meanwhile, won five of seven events Saturday to give them seven individual titles overall and two relay championships.
In addition to Thorvaldson setting a 3A girls state mark in the 1600, Burlington senior Dontaie Garza set a new standard in the boys 1A triple jump with a leap of 46 feet, 6 inches.
The only other state records to fall over the weekend all came in the 1600 sprint medley, which is in just its second year as a state-recognized event.
The Laramie girls set the all-class mark with a time of 4:13.65 while Rawlins (3A), Kemmerer (2A) and Ten Sleep (1A) established new standards for the girls. The Evanston boys also set the all-class mark with a time of 3:35.13.