Mother Nature wasn’t kind to the Lovell High School track and field squad last week, washing out most of the Bobcat Invitational in Thermopolis Friday and postponing the all-class Wyoming Track Classic all-star meet in Casper, which had a domino effect on Lovell’s participation in the Casper Kelly Walsh track meet on Saturday.
“It was fine when we started,” coach Joshua Sanders said of the Bobcat Invitational, which started at 1 p.m. Friday. “We could see clouds coming in. But then we got rain, hail and lightning.”
By then, the Lovell coaching staff also knew that the Track Classic in Casper had been postponed until Monday due to high winds in Casper, which in turn led to Lovell not taking athletes to Saturday’s Kelly Walsh Invitational.
Though he was able to take six athletes to the Track Classic on Monday, Sanders said Tuesday that the Friday Bobcat cancellation was disappointing.
“There were some things we wanted to look at,” he said. “We wish we had a full team at a full meet, and we were hoping to do that last weekend. That would have given us another opportunity to iron out some things. And with prom Friday it’s that much more difficult.
“Are we confident in what our relay teams are going to be? That meet in Thermop would have helped iron that out.”
Many athletes will be unable to attend the final regular season meet of the season on Friday – the Thermopolis Pre-Regional – due to the LHS junior-senior prom Friday night.
With the abbreviated Bobcat Invitational and the select Track Classic, only 12 athletes were able to compete in Thermopolis and/or Casper, but there were some outstanding performances.
Senior Collin McArthur ran the 3,200 meters Friday in Thermop before the rains came and nearly broke James Pru’s school record set in 1985. McArthur ran a time of 10:12.53 to set a personal record and win the race, threatening Pru’s mark of 10:11.24.
“That’s a great time,” Sanders said. “I don’t think we’ve had a two-mile time like that in a long time. Again, Collin was just short of a school record. He now has three within his grasp.”
This season McArthur has run within 7/10s of a second from the school record in the 800 meters, within three seconds of the record in the 1,600 meters and now one second from the 3,200 meters mark.
“He’ll just try to get them at Regionals and State,” the coach said.
McArthur ran a smart race on Friday, Sanders said.
“He was pacing himself for the first couple of laps,” Sanders noted. “He does a good job pacing himself. If it’s a windy day and you go out too fast, it’ll just burn you the rest of the way. He didn’t lead for the first couple of laps. Kids have a tendency to start too fast.”
In the Track Classic on Monday, McArthur placed fourth in the 800 meters with a time of 2:03.18, 2½ seconds off of his personal record set at the Wind River meet.
“That was a tight race, and it gets more physical than people think,” Sanders said. “Kids are pushing each other and elbowing. They have to watch that they don’t step on and trip each other. If you don’t position yourself well you can get thrown off rhythm. On the second lap Collin kind of got boxed in on the back stretch.”
Sanders said the girls 800-meter race was also tight on Monday, with senior Susie Robertson battling well and eventually placing second by half a second with a season-best time of 2:26.70.
“At the cone the girls cut right in (after running in lanes for the first 100 meters),” Sanders said. “I thought we would see a tumble. Susie took a good angle, which helped, but she was still bunched in. That’s a good time, especially in the wind. She was right there with the leader (Katie Rotellini of Sheridan).”
Sophomore Kim Shumway also ran an outstanding race in Casper, Sanders said, placing third in the 400-meter dash with a season-best time of 59.22.
“Kim felt she was behind after 200 meters, which she was, but she sure did close on the other two runners,” Sanders said. “She closed quickly, especially the last 100 meters.”
In field events, junior Cody Savage jumped a personal-record 43-8¾ in the triple jump Monday to place fourth at the Track Classic after winning the event Friday in Thermopolis with a jump of 42-4½, at the time his best jump of the season.
“He likes that (competing with the best of the best),” Sanders said. “He had quite a few good jumps Monday. He understands what he needs to do in regard to his form.”
Morgan Baxendale placed second in the triple jump Friday with a jump of 39-9½, and Austin Ellis placed fifth at 36-7, Nathan Ballard ninth at 35-10¼.
Senior AJ Montanez threw a season-best 159-7 in the discus Monday to place third at the Track Classic, and junior Tanner Rohrer was seventh with a toss of 142-7.
Montanez also placed sixth in the shot put Monday with a throw of 51-2¾ after placing second in Thermop Friday with a toss of 48-8½. Rohrer placed seventh in Thermop at 41-11½, and Jacob Price threw 30-9½.
Susie Robertson placed second in the high jump Friday in Thermop, clearing 5-0, and sister Amanda Shumway was fourth at 4-8.
Coaches named Kim Shumway as the female athlete of the week for her season-best time in the 400-meter dash Monday and Collin McArthur as the male athlete of the week for being close to the school record in the 3,200 Friday.
The Thermopolis Pre-Regional is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Friday, and the Lovell thinclads will travel to the Class 2A West Regional meet Friday and Saturday, May 11-12, in Riverton.
By David Peck