The young Rocky Mountain Grizzlies didn’t have the numbers to challenge for trophies, but the freshman and sophomore dominated squad gave a prelude of what’s to come with several outstanding performances at the state track and field meet in Casper over the weekend.
“For the most part I felt like our kids competed and did well,” coach Tobee Christiansen said. “There were a number of events where our athletes placed higher than they were seeded.”
Leading the way was freshman Jonathan Allred, who not only won the 2A high jump title but also the best-of-the-best all-class award, beating the Rocky Mountain school record with a jump of 6-5¼. Fittingly, he received his medals from Dick Fosbury, who perfected the modern “Fosbury Flop” high jump technique in 1965 and used the “back arching” technique to win a gold medal at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City. Fosbury was in Casper for the track meet.
Allred beat his nearest competitor, Dylan Roberts of Riverside High School, by more than three inches, and he topped his personal record, set the previous week at the 2A West Regional in Lander, by more than two inches. Roberts cleared 6-2 to place second at State.
Peaking at State
Allred cleared 6 feet at the first meet of the year in Greybull, an impressive start to his high school career, then never jumped higher than that the rest of the season until the 2A West Regionals in Lander, when he jumped 6-3.
He noted that he put all of his effort into the event throughout the season, working hard every day in practice. In fact, he worked so hard that coaches were worried that he was jumping too much.
“He put a lot of time in, including hours after practice,” Coach C said. “That’s what worried us about his legs. He tapered a bit before Regionals and State and got his pop back.”
“I probably did a little too much,” Allred agreed, “but it worked out for me.”
Christiansen said Allred also had to overcome a mental barrier of jumping higher than his own height, but once he broke through, he soared.
“When I cleared 6-1 in practice and at Regionals it helped me,” Allred said. “I’m 6-1, and it seemed a lot easier. I just had to get past that breaking point.”
He also credits a springboard used by the Rocky coaching staff to help him with his technique and form.
He put it all together at State, clearing the bar on his first attempt at 5-8, 5-10, 6 feet and 6-2. He missed once at 6-4, then cleared the bar to set a new personal recored. At that point he was the only competitor, so he asked that the bar be set at 6-5¼, which would break Rocky’s record of 6-5 set by Jim Graham in 1987.
He cleared 6-5¼ on his third try to break the school record, then tried three attempts at 6-6, but by that time he was exhausted.
“It was just too many jumps,” he said. “I was tired.”
Allred received both his 2A medal and the best-of-the-best all-class medal from Fosbury, a legend in the high jump event.
“It seemed more exciting that he got to hand it to me,” he noted, noting that he would like to attend a clinic Fosbury is giving in July in Casper.
It was quite a weekend for Allred, who listed five exciting things that happened to him in Casper:
1) Winning the 2A high jump title;
2) Winning the best-of-the-best;
3) Breaking the school record;
4) Hugging four-sport champion Anne Wingeleth, a University of Utah-bound senior from Lyman who was the girls best-of-the-best winner in the high jump; and
5) Seeing Rocky assistant coach Jerry Bellmyer contact his friend who coaches the high jump at Mississippi State and hearing that he wants Allred at MSU in three years.
“So I already have colleges looking at me,” Allred noted.
Allred’s 10 points represented nearly one-third of the Rocky Mountain boys’ team total of 33 points, which left the Grizz in 10th place in the 20-team 2A field.
Several other “youngsters” scored points for the Grizz in Casper, but the seniors ended their career in style, as well. Sophomore Cole Simmons, finally rounding into shape after battling injuries earlier in the season, placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 40-10 and sixth in the long jump, sailing 20-½.
“We had to hold him out for quite a while early in the season, but ultimately that left him more fresh,” Christiansen said. “He struggled a bit at Regionals but came back and popped a couple at State.”
Simmons was also a member of the Rocky Mountain 400-meter relay team that placed second with a season-best time of 45.64, joining brother Cannon Simmons, Kirby Winland and Caleb Horrocks, and he ran on the 1,600-meter relay team that placed fourth in the last event of the meet with a season-best time of 3:37.69, joining Tristan Jewell, Winland and Horrocks.
“Caleb (Horrocks) is gutty,” Christiansen said. “He’s got a great work ethic. He’s an awesome kid to have around. We will miss the leadership of the seniors. It’s a crew that comes and works. They’re just good, good kids.”
Sophomore Dominic Twomey placed eighth in the 3,200 meters with a personal-record time of 10:55.39 finished 14th in the 1,600 meters, running the four laps in 5:02.57.
John Higgins ran into some oh-so-close hard luck at State. The senior wrapped up his career with a ninth-place finish in the 3,200 meters, running a personal-record time of 11:08.42, and another ninth-place finish in the 1,600, running a personal-record time of 4:52.11, just two seconds behind Lukas Mathews of Kemmerer. He also finished 12th in the 800 meters with a time of 2:09.92, another PR.
Also coming close was sophomore Zac Zier, who placed ninth in the shot put with a toss of 41-9¾.
Other boys results at the state meet included:
100m dash – Cannon Simmons tie for 10th in prelims, 11.80; 200m dash – Caleb Horrocks 12th in prelims, 24.56; 110-meter high hurdles – Tristan Jewell 15th in prelims, 19.65; pole vault – Kirby Winland 15th, 10-0, Horrocks NH; discus – Zac Zier tie for 16th, 114-3.
The Rocky Mountain Lady Grizzlies placed 12th out of 19 teams with 26 points, and although they have a strong group of freshmen, a senior earned the most points for the Lady Grizz. Senior Mikaela Hocker placed second in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles with a time of 17.43 after running 17.96 (fourth) in the preliminaries.
“Mikaela had an awesome run in the hurdles,” Christiansen said. “She got a great start and is a strong runner. She seems to gain momentum with each hurdle. She’s gotten after it every day and has worked hard on her starts.”
The young 400-meter relay team of sophomore Marissa Arnold and freshmen Angelina Helms, Brenda Timmons and Pepper Lewis placed third with a time of 54.11.
“They ran it in a downpour,” Christiansen said. “It was an absolute downpour when they started it.”
Lewis and sophomore Brianna Brumwell tied for third place in the high jump, each clearing 4-10, and Marissa Arnold placed eighth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.73 after running 13.59 in the prelims.
“I was glad to see Marissa make the finals,” Christiansen said. “She just missed last year.”
Other girls results at the state meet included:
100m dash – Pepper Lewis 12th in prelims, 14.07, Angelina Helms 13th in prelims, 14.08; 200m dash – Helms tie for 11th in prelims, 28.77; 400m dash – Marissa Arnold 15th in prelims, 1:08.91; 100m hurdles – Livia Higgins 11th in prelims, 18.87; 300m hurdles – Higgins ninth in prelims, 53.35; high jump – Helms 10th, 4-6; pole vault – Abigail Arnold NH; shot put – Jennifer Parker 13th, 29-5, Mikayla McWhirter 16th, 27-11½; discus – Parker 16th, 81-7.
By David Peck