The annual Simplot Games begin Thursday on the campus of Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, and Wyoming will be well-represented (if they can make the drive).
A total of 480 entries from Wyoming have been submitted (229 boys, 251 girls) for “North America’s Premier High School Indoor Track Meet.” Most of them worked the last two weeks with this meet in mind, serving as the mid-way point of the season before the state meet later on.
Rawlins junior Sydney Thorvaldson leads the field a year after she etched her name into history. Last year Thorvaldson and her family found a way through Wyoming road closures in time for her to qualify in a Friday solo race after her fellow 3,200-meter entries ran. She went on to set a new 3,200-meter Simplot Games record with a 10-minute, 19.05-second time. She currently leads the country with the best 3,200 time (10:20.18 set at Natrona County last week). She’ll only run the 3,200 in Pocatello (Thursday qualifying; Saturday afternoon finals).
Fellow reigning state cross country champion, Star Valley’s Peter Visser, enters the weekend as the top seed in the men’s 3,200. He leads a large Star Valley collective into Idaho. He’ll race Sheridan standout David Standish in the same heat. Visser, the two-time Gatorade Wyoming Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year, finished third in the 1,600 at Simplot last year. Star Valley senior Connor Etzelmiller, by way of Natrona County, will also run the 3,200.
Junior Riley Smith of Cody is entered in the 1,600. She finished sixth in the event last year.
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As far as other returners who dazzled at Simplot last year, Sheridan once again entered a 4x200 relay team after winning last year’s event. The Broncs also entered a team in the 4x400 relay where they got third last year. The members of those teams, however, were not revealed with entry and heat/flight announcements.
Stellar sprinters like Will Pelissier (Big Horn), Jaxon Pikula (Thunder Basin), Emory Yoosook (Kelly Walsh), Avery Cox (Natrona County), Aidan Morris (Laramie), Seth Hymas (Rock Springs) and Andrew Johnson (Cheyenne Central) are all entered to run either the 60 dash or hurdles in the boys’ division. The girls’ sprint and hurdles field is also loaded with Taylor Gardner (Laramie), Isabel Romasko (Star Valley), Piper O’Dell (Sheridan), Jozi Edwards (Thunder Basin), Parker Mooren (Natrona County) and Amberlyn Hill (Kelly Walsh) all entered to compete.
Then there are standouts like Thunder Basin’s Donovan Hoffman and the Sheridan duo of Beau Toyne and Carter McComb running in the last heat of the 200. Alex Garber (Sheridan) and Travis Harmon (Mountain View) round out the most high-profile middle-distance boys’ entries. Taylor Rowe (Kelly Walsh), Emma Brown (Cheyenne East) and Tia Nelson (Evanston) are all entered in middle-distance races for the girls. Wind River’s Mindy Russell is running the 400 unattached and representing her hometown of Kinnear.
A combined 20 boys relay teams from Wyoming are entered to match 19 girls’ teams.
For field events, Grace Shaffer of Cody enters the pole vault after finishing eighth at Simplot last year. The former indoor state champion and two-time outdoor state champion leads a group of 11 Wyoming pole vaulters. Big Horn senior Carley Motsick, Cheyenne Central sophomore Jordan Stoddard (by way of Southeast) and Cheyenne East senior Addy Turner lead the high jump field. Rock Springs senior Favour Wanjoku leads a crowded Wyomingite field in the long jump and triple jump. Gillette’s Lauren Love and Cheyenne Central’s Kaitlyn Migneault, who finished third and fourth, respectively, at last year’s Simplot Games, return as the top two throwers by seed this year.
The Wyoming boys’ field is highlighted by an eclectic bunch. Sophomore Quinn Lindsay, who attends Rocky Mountain but typically competes for nearby Lovell during the indoor season, stands out among weight throw participants. Sheridan sophomore Ryan Karanjanis, coming off a fiery effort at Natrona County last weekend, leads the pole vault group. Douglas’ Sutton Perry, Cody’s Isaac Taylor, Worland’s Cole Harman and Sheridan’s Connor Goss are among notables entered in the high jump. Cheyenne Central senior Aden Gallon comes off a win last weekend to bring momentum and a large group of Wyomingites into the long jump and triple jump. Mountain view junior Joseph Turner leads Wyoming’s throwers into the shot put with the best mark out of the field.
Competition starts at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday with the boys’ 3,200 prelims. The only final events on Thursday will be both boys and girls weight throws. Friday hosts all remaining qualifying and preliminary events. All remaining finals begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with competition running until the early evening.
Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans