A balance of running and field event prowess propelled the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies to the team title Friday at the Riverside Invitational in Basin.
The Grizz racked up 247.5 points to top the seven-team field, beating out Tongue River (226) for the title. Burlington was third with 181 points, followed by Greybull with 178.5 points, Riverside 124, Arvada-Clearmont 69 and Ten Sleep 16.
The Rocky girls, meanwhile, tied with Burlington for second place with 104 points, trailing only Tongue River, which won the championship with 126 points. Greybull was fourth with 48 points, and Arvada-Clearmont had 44 points, Riverside 37 and Ten Sleep 16.
“I felt pretty good about it,” said Coach Tobee Christiansen about his team’s performance Friday. “We came out and competed pretty well. We had kids PR and compete in events for the first time. We were in the pole vault for the first time.
“I was glad to see the boys win it.”
One of the highlights of the meet was the boys 400-meter relay team prequalifying for the state track meet with a winning time of 45.54. Buzzing the lap was the quartet of Joey Jewell, Caleb Horrocks, Cannon Simmons and Cole Simmons.
“We had one shaky handoff, so we can still shave some off,” Christiansen said. “We had a great Simmons-to-Simmons handoff. I think we gained about eight yards on that handoff. It was fun to watch.”
Also taking first place was the 1,600-meter relay team of Bill Despain, Dominic Twomey, Yosuki Taniguchi and Jake Loyning, which covered the four laps in 4:06.55.
Christiansen said he was proud of his pole-vaulters for their first high school competition. Horrocks placed third, clearing 8-6, and Brian Crawford also competed.
“Our pole-vaulters took a step in the right direction,” the coach said. “They’re trying it out. We’ll be able to tweak that and work on it this year. It’ll be fun.”
Rocky went two-three-seven in the 100-meter dash. Jewell placed second with a season-best time of 11.94, and Cole Simmons was third at 11.96, Kirby Winland seventh, tied with Dustin Fox of Greybull, with a time of 12.25. Horrocks finished 10th at 12.41, Crawford 17th at 13.40 and Charles Kawano 22nd at 13.78.
Junior John Higgins won the 400-meter dash despite nursing a sore ankle from a basketball injury, Christiansen noted. Higgins ran a winning time of 58.95. Kawano was sixth at 1:19.14.
Senior Jake Loyning led a sextet of Rocky runners in the 800 meters, placing third with a time of 2:24.45. Bill Despain placed fourth at 2:28.54, a personal record, Dominic Twomey fifth at 2:29.12, Joey Carroll seventh at 2:32.61 (PR), Yosuke Taniguchi eighth at 2:33.24 (PR) and Josh McCracken ninth at 2:51.45.
“Jake came out and ran strong,” Christiansen said. “He’s worked at it.”
Twomey improved on his time at Greybull by 17 seconds in the 1,600 meters, placing third with a time of 5:17.68, and Carroll was fifth at 5:47, Shay Bond sixth at 6:39.
“The kids in the mile all improved,” Christiansen noted. “They all had a better pace than at Greybull.”
Jewell won the long jump and pre-qualified for State with a leap of 19-9¾, and Cole Simmons was fifth at 18-5¾, Crawford ninth at 16-10 and Dylan North 12th at 15-9-1/4.
Jewell also won the triple jump, sailing 39-1¾, and Cannon Simmons placed fourth at 36-3¾, North seventh at 32–1/4.
Despain placed sixth in the high jump, clearing 5-6, and Winland was seventh at 5-4.
Senior Jacob Price won the shot put with a personal-record throw of 42-6, and freshman Zac Zier showed promise with a fourth-place finish at 37-11. McCracken finished 11th with a throw of 29-4-1/4, Jon Dohnal 14th at 26-7, Chase Brand 16th at 25-6, Shay Bond 18th at 25-2-1/2 and Connor Holzwarth 19th at 24-8¾.
Zier placed fifth in the discus with a toss of 110-3, and Price placed sixth at 107-4, both personal records. Dohnal finished 15th with a throw of 73-1, Holzwarth 17th at 67-6 and Brand 21st at 57-7.
Freshman Marissa Arnold came within an eyelash of pre-qualifying in the 100-meter dash, placing third with a time of 13.53. Sophomore Kaitlyn Hayes placed seventh at 14.40, a personal record, and Maddie Crawford finished 14th at 15.52, Laura Ferguson 19th at 16.00.
Freshman Livia Higgins had another strong performance in the 400-meter dash, covering the lap in 1:07.12 to place third. Summer Johnson placed third in the 800 meters with a time of 3:08.81, and Yuri Okamura placed third at 3:38.04.
Higgins won the 100-meter intermediate hurdles with a personal-record time of 18.45, and junior Mikaela Hocker placed third at 18.94.
“Livia ran well in the hurdles,” Christiansen said. “She stayed strong at the end.”
The quartet of Arnold, Higgins, Hocker and Hayes won the 400-meter relay with a time of 56.79.
In field events, Arnold placed second in the high jump, clearing 4-8, and Hayes was third at 4-6, Brianna Brumwell fourth on misses, also clearing 4-6.
Hayes placed second in the pole vault, clearing 6 feet.
“Kaitlyn came out and cleared a few heights,” Christiansen said. “She’s still working on her form.”
Arnold placed third in the long jump with a leap of 14-6-1/2, and Brumwell was 12th at 11-2, Okamura 14th at 9-9 and Ferguson 15th at 9-5¾.
Junior Jennifer Parker placed second in the shot put, tossing the sphere 28-10-1/4, and Mikayla McWhirter placed fifth at 25-10. McWhirter placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 69-1, and Parker finished eighth at 63-1.
“The throwers are coming along. Ryan (Boettcher) does a good job working with them,” Christiansen said.
Burlington and home meet
The Grizz will compete in the Burlington Invitational Friday, with action beginning at 2 p.m., then host a Twilight Invitational Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. before taking the Easter weekend off.
by David Peck