Young Grizzlies build for the future at State meet

The young Rocky Mountain Grizzlies track and field squad participated in an abbreviated state track meet over the weekend in Casper, with no athletes advancing to Saturday action, but they did pick up some valuable experience – and a few points – on Thursday and Friday that will help them next season, coach Dave Beemer said.

Rocky Mountain freshman Kirby Winland takes the baton from fellow freshman Cannon Simmons during the 400-meter relay Friday in Casper.

The Grizzlies scored 7 team points at State, and they picked up 4 of their points on Thursday when sophomore Joey Jewell placed fifth in the long jump with a leap of 20-3, setting a personal record in the process.

Also on Thursday, senior Austin Brost ran a personal record in the 200-meter dash preliminaries with a time of 24.70, but due to the stiff competition he finished 14th.

Freshman Mikaela Hocker and sophomore Haley Strom nearly qualified for the finals in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles Thursday as Hocker placed 10th in the prelims with a personal-record time of 18 seconds flat and Strom was 12th at 18.65.

“Mikaela was in second place in her heat and doing great, then on hurdle number eight started four-stepping,” Beemer said, noting that Hocker missed finals by 14/100ths of a second. “The hurdlers are fast. The 2A girls are good. Last year Haley ran 18.95 and got ninth. This year Mikaela runs 18 flat and gets 10th.”

Junior Bryce Ward then ran the 110-meter high hurdles and missed finals by 8/100ths of a second, finishing ninth in the prelims with a time of 17.64.

On Friday, the first event for the team was the girls shot put, and freshman Jennifer Parker knocked on the door of the top eight but ultimately finished 11th with a personal-record throw of 30-10.

“That was her best throw of the season,” Beemer said. “She came in seeded 18th and got 11th. She’s just a freshman. With more experience she’ll improve.

Brost and Cannon Simmons competed in the 100-meter dash preliminaries and freshman Simmons nearly qualified for the finals, finishing 10th with a time of 12.04 while running in pain. Brost ran a time of 12.60, which left him in 17th position.

“Cannon would have placed in the 100 if he was well,” Beemer said. “He injured his hip flexor and his hamstring. We had to heat him up before his races. He would run normal until 70 meters, and then the injury would start to tighten up on him.

“He ran 12.04 with the injuries. He would have run in the 11s and would have placed.”

The next event for the Grizz was the boys high jump. Freshman Kirby Winland finished 10th, clearing 5-8, but he barely missed at 5-10, Beemer said, which would have put him in a placing position. Jewell finished 12th at 5-4.

Ward was solid in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles preliminaries but did not qualify for the finals, finishing 12th with a time of 44.81.

In the boys triple jump later that day, Winland placed 12th with a leap of 37-5.

Late in the day Friday, the Grizz earned their final points of the meet in the 400-meter relay. The Grizzly foursome of senior Derik Romero, Simmons, Winland and Jewell placed sixth with a time of 48 seconds flat. It wasn’t a bad time, Beemer said, considering that Simmons was injured and Romero suffered from a hamstring cramp.

The day ended Friday with the 400-meter dash, and Beemer said Ward had to suffer through rain delays and cold temperatures and ended up 16th with a time of 58.26.

Beemer said the Grizzlies lose only four seniors in Brost, Romero, Chase Aagard and Ashley Bridges, and they have some strong eighth-graders coming up.

“There are some kids who can really help us coming up,” he said.

By David Peck