Lady Bulldogs dominate state track meet to win fourth title in five years

Whitney Grant was pumped after winning the pole vault competition at the state track meet, besting her own school record with a vault of 10-2. Celebrating with her Friday morning is vaulting coach Daniel Robertson. David Peck photo
Whitney Grant was pumped after winning the pole vault competition at the state track meet, besting her own school record with a vault of 10-2. Celebrating with her Friday morning is vaulting coach Daniel Robertson.
David Peck photo

In the end, it wasn’t even close.

The Lovell Lady Bulldogs track and field team dominated the field at the 2014 Wyoming State Track and Field Championships to win their fourth state title in five years Saturday, capping three days of excellence that saw the team rack up 118.5 points and beat second-place Big Horn (68.5) by 50 points.

Coach Joshua Sanders said it takes both top athletes and depth to reach the top and stay on top in track and field.

“I think for the girls we have great quality and great numbers combined,” he said. “If you talk to other coaches, they struggle to get the numbers. We haven’t had that struggle. All of our coaches work hard to make sure we have good numbers.

“Like anything, the bigger the pool, the higher the chance of success. All of our coaches give us good ideas about what we can do to help kids have a good experience.”

Sanders said it’s exciting to see such a young team excel.

“I’ll admit I had a little more enthusiasm and excitement this year than the last one (title year),” he said. “We had a younger group of girls who had great enthusiasm this year.”

University of Wyoming bound senior Kim Shumway earned three individual titles and was a key leg of a winning relay team to lead the scoring for Lovell, breaking two state records in the process.

Sophomore Jaclyn Caldwell raced to a pair of firsts in long-distance races and was a member of a fifth-place relay squad as Lovell dominated the 200 through the 3,200.

In field events, junior Whitney Grant won the pole vault, junior Chayli McArthur the long jump. McArthur also placed second in the triple jump and fifth in the 300-meter low hurdles and was a member of the championship mile relay team.

Grant placed third in the 100-meter hurdles and seventh in the 100-meter dash, as well as running a leg of the fourth-place 400-meter relay team.

Sophomore Savanna Savage tied for third in the high jump, and sophomore Caitlyn Lundberg placed sixth in the long jump. Freshman Emily Snell placed eighth in the pole vault and ran a leg of the sprint relay. Also running on relay teams were Shelby Wardell, Trysa Flood, Ameesha Anderson, Charri McArthur, Jazmyn See and Madison Harper.

Shumway was on fire in Casper. She warmed up Thursday by qualifying for the finals in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.34, then won her first title Friday morning by smoking the field in the 800 meters, setting a new state record and knocking off her own school record with a time of 2:15.29, beating Amber Henry of Mountain View’s 2008 record by 2/100ths of a second. Shumway beat second-place finisher Celestial Jackson of Pine Bluffs by 14 seconds.

“Coach (Caleb) Sanders told her before the race, ‘You’d better lean’ at the finish line. It was that close (to the record),” Josh Sanders said. “She went after it. The first lap may have been a little fast, about 62 seconds, and we saw her tighten up in the last 200 meters. We were hoping she could do it and she did, though that race made her a little sore for the next day.”

Late in the day, with thunder clouds threatening, Shumway qualified first in the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.23.

Shumway had a busy – and successful – afternoon Saturday before the huge crowd at Harry Geldien Stadium. She first turned it up a notch in the 400-meter finals, beating her own state record of 55.99 from 2013 by blazing the lap in 55.82 seconds and winning the race by four seconds over LeeAnna Mitchell of Tongue River and the rest of the field.

“Kim was a little sore Saturday, and once again she was running alone,” Sanders noted. “Kim brought out the best in that field. A lot of the girls had personal records after Kim pulled them faster. A bunch of them were excited after the race because they had run that fast.”

About two hours later Shumway won the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.25 seconds, pulling away from Bailey Bard of Big Horn (26.63) and the other six sprinters.

Finally, Shumway joined teammates Chayli McArthur, Shelby Wardell and Trysa Flood to put the icing on the cake for the Lovell championship as the quartet won the 1,600-meter relay, always the final event of the meet. Lovell was in third place after three laps, but close, and Shumway made mincemeat of the other anchor legs, leading to a winning time of 4:10.27.

“Our girls’ time was really good,” Sanders said. “4:10 is only two seconds off the old state record before our girls set it in 2011 (3:59.71). We put together quite a good team. All of the girls did what they wanted to do. Trysa did a really good job and showed really good strength. It was her fastest 400. This time would have cleaned the field a few years ago. Southeast (second) and Big Horn (third) had really good teams, and Big Horn was the defending champion.”

Young distance runner

Caldwell got the Lovell team off to a strong start Thursday when the meet began by winning the 3,200 meters with a time of 12:22.64, beating Pine Bluffs senior Austin Asay by five seconds in a competitive race. In the final event of the day Caldwell joined teammates Madison Harper, Jazmyn See and Charri McArthur on the fifth-place 3,200-meter relay team.

Saturday afternoon Caldwell did it again, winning the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:40.65. The race featured a tightly-bunched pack of seven or eight runners, and on the back stretch of the fourth lap Charlene Brown of Wyoming Indian made her move and passed Caldwell, but Caldwell would have none of it and passed Brown with about 140 meters to go and stormed down the final straightaway to win the race by five seconds.

“When the Wyoming Indian girl made the pass I said it’s OK,” Sanders said. “I knew it was a little early. Coach (Caleb) Sanders said Jackie has really come on this year. She is excelling. He can tell how strong she is in practice.”

Sanders said Caldwell ran great strategic races at State.

“She could have run both races faster, but that wasn’t our goal,” he said. “Our goal was to draft and win in the end. She ran two good races.”

Grant had an outstanding meet. She easily won the pole vault Friday morning by clearing 10-2. In fact, the final placing was a foregone conclusion when the other 13 competitors were out before Grant cleared her opening height, 9 feet. She went on to clear 9-6 and 10-2 to eclipse her own school record of 10-1.

Sanders said the multi-faceted athlete benefits from her many activities.

“Her dancing is good for her events,” he said. “Being somewhat gymnastic helps her in the vault and helps make her flexible for the hurdles. She works hard. She has good speed and good strength. That’s a good combination.”

Freshman Emily Snell got her feet wet in the event, placing eighth by clearing 7 feet, a personal record.

Later on Friday Grant joined Ameesha Anderson, Snell and Caitlyn Lundberg to place fourth in the 400-meter relay with a time of 54.09.

Saturday, Grant had a busy morning. First, she placed placed third in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles in a photo finish with Rocky Mountain junior Mikaela Hocker. Both recorded times of 16.89, which tied Grant’s personal record and set a new PR for Hocker, but an analysis of the finish line photo gave Grant third place. Grant qualified for the finals with a time of 17.61 Thursday afternoon, recording the fourth best time in the two trial heats.

Shortly after that Grant placed seventh in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.98 after running a time of 13.80 in Friday’s preliminaries.

Chayli McArthur placed in four events in Casper. The junior won the long jump Friday afternoon with a leap of 16-4¼ and was joined on the winners’ platform by Lundberg, who placed sixth with a jump of 15-2½.

The next morning McArthur placed second in the triple jump at 33-10, falling to Raine Pingetzer of Shoshoni (35 feet) on Pingetzer’s second-to-last jump of the day. Flood jumped 29-11¼ to finish 13th.

“She (Pingetzer) hit the jump of her life (a PR by more than a foot),” Sanders said. “Chayli could have been there (35 feet), too, but she had just run the 300-meter hurdles final.”

McArthur ran well in the 300-meter low hurdles, first recording a personal record time of 50.23 in Friday’s preliminaries, then breaking that PR with a time of 49.94 Saturday morning, placing fifth.

Sophomore Savanna Savage tied her personal record and tied for third with Emily Taylor of Big Piney in the high jump Thursday, clearing 4-8. 

“She saved her best jumps for the end of the year,” Sanders said. “Her form has been pretty good. It’s just a matter of getting some of the pop she needs to get height.”

In other results at state track, teammates Ameesha Anderson and Caitlyn Lundberg tied for 12th place in the 100-meter dash preliminaries with a time of 14.04 seconds, and a trio of Lovell runners finished 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively, in the 200-meter dash prelims: Lundberg 29.27, Trysa Flood 29.39 and Anderson 29.44.

Flood finished 11th in the 400-meter dash prelims with a personal-record time of 1:04.08, and Shelby Wardell was 13th at 1:05.56.

Madison Harper finished 11th in the 100-meter hurdles prelims with a time of 18.52.

Sophomore Sierra Montanez threw the discus a personal-record 91-4 to finish 11th.

Since moving back to Class 2A in 2009-10 the Lovell girls track team has won four team titles – 2010, 143-84 over Lingle-Ft. Laramie; 2011, 116-70 over Lusk; 2012, 108-78.5 over Burns and this year’s 50-point margin over Big Horn. The Lady Bulldogs were a close second last year to Burns.

By David Peck