Talented athletes and dedication to the sport resulted in a championship sweep for the Lovell Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs at the state track meet in Casper over the weekend.
The Bulldogs powered past the competition to win the school’s second boys state track title, amassing 140.5 points to 76 for second-place Saratoga.
The Lovell girls had a bit tougher time but still out-scored second-place Burns 108-78.5 to win their third consecutive state title and fifth in school history.
Asked about the team’s success, coach Joshua Sanders first praised the student athletes.
“We’ve got horses in the stable,” he said. “That’s a huge factor right there, and we’ve had that for several consecutive years. We have had good classes of kids. The type of kids we have does that. They recruit for each other better than the coaches do.”
Sanders said Lovell athletes and coaches take track and field seriously.
“Kids want to be involved in something they perceive as value and importance. We (as coaches) do a lot of subtle things to make sure the kids understand the importance of the program. My assistant coaches have a lot of good ideas for those kind of things (like team meetings, athletes of the week, etc.). And the coaches in other programs support what we’re doing. They encourage the kids to be a part of what we’re doing.”
Sanders said the Lovell coaches have done a good job getting the Lovell athletes to peak at the right time, and that paid off for the Bulldogs at State.
“The coaches we have are very aware of the concept of peaking and understand the importance of peaking,” he said. “Caleb (Sanders) understands his athletes very well and what it takes, the same for all of them (the coaches).”
Senior Collin McArthur had an outstanding final meet for the Bulldogs, breaking two school records and scoring 26 points with one first- and two second-place finishes.
“He had prepared himself very well,” Sanders said. “He and Coach Sanders (Caleb) talked about the strategy he needed, and he did so with two of the races (800 and 3,200).”
It all started Thursday, when McArthur battled Pine Bluffs senior Alejandro Garcia in the 3,200 meters. Over eight laps, the pair pulled away from the competition, and although Garcia won with a time of 9:58.60, McArthur was close behind in second place with a time of 10:04.26, shattering James Pru’s Lovell school record of 10:11.24, which had stood since 1985 – the oldest Lovell boys record on the books.
“Collin did everything he was supposed to do. The Garcia kid is the better two-miler,” Sanders said. “We knew that was the tougher race to win. But Collin got a school record, so there are no regrets. There’s nothing he could have done differently.
“It was a really fun race to watch. As coaches, we were yelling for all we were worth.”
Friday morning brought the 800 meters, and with one record tucked in his pocket, McArthur went out and broke another, winning the 800 (and beating Garcia) with a time of 1:58.00, which broke the Lovell record of 1:59.93 set by Devin Beck in 2006.
“Collin wanted to get out to a good enough start to where he wasn’t crowded, and when he did decide to lead, he gapped his guy (Garcia). It wasn’t a little pass, he committed to it to mentally break (his opponents). Coach Sanders and Collin talked about that.”
In the 1,600 Saturday, McArthur led for three laps, but on the back stretch of the fourth lap, Wyoming Indian junior Alvin Spoonhunter moved ahead and kept the lead the rest of the race, winning with a time of 4:36.71. McArthur placed second at 4:40.88, a little more than three seconds slower than his personal record set last week at Regionals. Sanders said McArthur simply went out too fast and didn’t have the kick he needed at the end.
Junior Cody Savage had an excellent meet, Sanders said, setting a personal record in the triple jump and the long jump, placing in the discus and running a leg of the mile relay team that finished third.
Lovell dominated the triple jump Friday afternoon, and all four athletes set personal records: Savage in first with a jump of 43-9 ¾, senior Morgan Baxendale second at 43-2¼ and setting a PR by two feet, Dino Collins third at 41-8½ and Austin Ellis seventh at 39-10, a PR by more than a foot.
“Cody is now a three-time state champion in the event,” Sanders noted. “He’ll be gunning for a fourth next year, which is rare.
“Morgan’s jump came a few hours after he no-heighted in the high jump, which he had put a lot of work into. You hate to see that as a coach. But he ended his career on a fabulous note.”
Savage jumped 20-8, a PR, to place third in the long jump, and Collins was fourth at 20-5, also a PR by nearly a foot. Colin May was just out of the placing positions at 10th with a leap of 18-8.
Savage also placed eighth in the discus with a throw of 122-5, and he ran the second leg of the Lovell 1,600-meter relay team – Calin McArthur to Savage to Austin Ellis to Mark Grant — that placed third with a time of 3:38.82.
Ellis also placed eighth in the 400-meter dash at 55.90 after running a personal-record 55.05 in the prelims.
Junior Dino Collins provided 19 points for his team, placing second in the 110-meter hurdles to go along with his third place in the long jump and fourth in the triple.
Collins placed a close second in the hurdles with a time of 16.59, edged by Colton Wright of Burns by only 31/100ths of a second.
“Dino was in the lead and clipped the second to last hurdle,” Sanders said. “He was ready to win it. He banged up his knee pretty good and was that close to being a state champion.”
Collins set personal records on all three events at State.
Wrapping up a stellar career was senior A.J. Montanez, who placed second in the shot put with a throw of 53-2, a personal record, and second in the discus with a toss of 146-11, battling Riverside senior Brynnt Wood in both events.
“State didn’t end the way he wanted, but it doesn’t overshadow what he’s accomplished,” Sanders said. “He’s had a fabulous career and is another kid who puts in a lot of work. And the great thing is that his career will continue at MSU-Billings. Chad (Lindsay) has put in a lot of work with him.”
Junior Tanner Rohrer set a personal record in the discus with a throw of 145-4, good for fourth place, and was 10th in the shot put at 41-8¾.
Junior Nathan Grant cleared 13 feet for the first time in the pole vault and tied Brodie Eklund of Burns for height but finished second on misses. He also placed sixth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 44.04 after running a personal record 43.89 in the preliminaries.
“Talk about peaking,” Sander said. “Nathan set a personal record at Regionals (pole vault, 12-6), then tops it at State. Coach (Daniel) Robertson did a great job with him.”
Senior Colin May capped his career with two strong performances in distance races: fourth in the 1,600 with a personal-record time of 4:46.02 and fifth in the 3,200 at 10:38.80.
“Colin ran a gutsy race in the mile,” Sanders said. “He told us, ‘I’m going to go after it’ and he did. That was a gritty race for him. What a way to go out. We knew watching him in that mile that he gave it everything he had.”
Another senior finished well. Mark Grant ran a strong race in the 300-meter hurdles finals and placed fourth with a personal-record time of 42.70. He was also a member of two relay teams.
Grant was the third leg of the Lovell 400-meter relay team that included Hyrum Hopkin, Dylan Hultgren and Cade Bischoff. The quartet placed fourth with a time of 47.14.
“We put that team together two weeks ago and they place fourth at State,” Sanders marveled.
The foursome of Adam Beck, Jacob Beck, Hultgren and Hopkin placed sixth with a time of 9:01.90.
Sophomore Kade Englert placed fifth in the high jump, clearing 5-10 and sixth in the pole vault, tying his personal record at 12 feet.
Freshman AJ Dickson placed eighth in the 3,200 with a personal-record time of 10:55.88 and almost placed in the 1,600, finishing ninth at 5:01.60.
Other state results included:
100-meter dash – Mark Grant 12th in prelims, 12.12; 110-meter hurdles – Nathan Ballard 14th in prelims, 18.32; 300-meter hurdles – McKayan May 11th in prelims, 44.34; long jump – Colin May 10th, 18-8; high jump – Cade Bischoff 11th, 5-4.
Girls win again
The Lady Bulldogs won their third consecutive state title thanks to a number of strong performances, some of them record-breaking.
The 1,600-meter relay team of sisters Kim Shumway, Susie Robertson and Amanda Shumway (first, second and fourth legs) and cousin Erin Robertson (third leg) obliterated the state record of 4:07.61 set by Lingle-Ft. Laramie in 2008 with a remarkable time of 3:59.71, which is only two seconds off the overall, all-class state record of 3:57.17 set by Cody High School in 2006.
“That was a very good time,” Sanders said of Saturday’s first-place run. “They crushed it. I don’t think that record is going to go down for a long, long, long time. Kim started it with a 56, and I think in other events she was conserving a bit to get ready for this. They won the best-of-the-best award (for best all-class time at State).”
Both of the other Lovell relay teams performed well in Casper. The 400-meter relay Chelsey Ellis, Kassidy Hetland, Whitney Grant and Alyssa Geiser parlayed smooth handoffs and four strong legs into a best-of-the-season time of 52.25, placing second to Pine Bluffs by just 12/100ths of a second.
The 3,200-meter relay team of Meryk McArthur, Geiser, Hannah McCurley and Amanda Shumway placed second to Shoshoni with a time of 10:32.82, a season best.
Kim Shumway had a remarkable track meet. The sophomore was part of 38 points for the Lady Bulldogs. Not only did she run the first leg of the record-shattering 4×400 relay team, she won the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.45 and the 400-meter dash at 57.94, beating her own school record set last year by 3/100ths of a second.
Shumway competed in one field event and placed second in the long jump with a leap of 16-½.
Also outstanding in Casper was older sister Susie Robertson, who also was part of scoring 38 points for the Lady Bulldogs. Besides running the second leg of the 1,600-meter relay team, Robertson won the 800 meters with a time of 2:23.75 and the high jump at 5-0. She also placed second to sister Kim in the 400-meter dash, incredibly running a time of 1:00.00 for the second week in a row.
“She wasn’t expected to win the high jump, but she’s been working toward that for a long time and was pretty excited about it,” Sanders said. “That’s really good, especially after sitting out half of the season (in the high jump) with an injury. It worked out great to be able to come back and recover enough to win that.”
Finishing her career in style was senior Alyssa Geiser. Geiser not only showed her versatility by running on both the 400- and 3,200-meter relay teams, she placed fourth in the 300-meter low hurdles with a personal-record time of 49.83 and eighth in the triple jump at 32-5½.
Geiser was part of scoring 22 points for her team.
Senior Jodi Walker placed in two jumping events in her final meet. She placed fourth in the triple jump with a strong jump of 33-7¼ and sixth in the long jump at 14-10.
“Jodi jumped well,” Sanders said. “There were some pretty good triple-jumpers, and she was one of them. We’re going to miss her. She has placed all four years at State.”
Senior Erin Robertson “took up the 400 this year,” Sanders said, and not only was she a key member of the record setting mile relay team, she ran a strong open 400 at State, placing fourth with a time of 1:02.27, a personal record.
“She ran a strong 400 and placed, and she was an important member of that 4×4 team.”
Freshman Whitney Grant made her mark at State, placing fifth with a vault of 8-6, one inch off of her personal record. She has improved consistently this season, and Sanders said she has a lot of potential.
Another freshman, Chayli McArthur, placed seventh in the long jump with a jump of 14-9 ½ and finished ninth in the triple jump at 32-1, injuring her IT band in one leg on the first jump of the event.
Besides her relay work, junior Amanda Shumway placed eighth in the high jump, clearing 4-8, and senior Miranda Griffis placed eighth in the discus with a throw of 108-7 in a very strong field of throwers from the eastern part of the state.
“Miranda has had a very successful career,” Sanders said. “She goes to State and surpasses people in front of her. Schuylar (Davis) has also had a nice career and is dedicated to her sport.”
Griffis finished 10th in the shot put at 31-5, and Davis was one spot way from placing in the discus, finishing ninth with a throw of 99-6.
Sanders also noted that junior Meryk McArthur missed qualifying for the finals in the 300-meter hurdles by 17/100ths of a second, placing ninth in the preliminaries with a time of 51.59, a personal record.
Other girls results from State included:
100m dash – Chelsey Ellis, ninth in preliminaries, 13.66, Kassidy Hetland 11th in prelims, 13.77, Ameesha Anderson 14th in prelims, 13.96; 200m dash – Hetland 15th in prelims, 28.67; 1,600 meters – Meryk McArthur 11th, 6:03.40; 100m hurdles – Whitney Grant 11th in prelims, 18.28; triple jump – Ellis 10th, 31-5½ (PR); high jump – Ivy Abraham 11th, 4-6 (PR); shot put – Mercedes Haney 17th, 28-5¼, Schuylar Davis 18th, 26-5½.
By David Peck