Fighting wet and frigid weather in Afton, the Lovell Bulldogs qualified 21 athletes for the state track meet in Casper with a number of strong performances at the 3A West Regional Track and Field Meet hosted by Star Valley High School Friday and Saturday.
“It was cold and wet and…weird,” coach Josh Sanders said. “When it’s cold with rain, things don’t turn out how you would predict. For instance, a lot of girls high-jumpers in the whole region were not in the top eight. They came in later when it was really cold and didn’t clear their opening height.
“The same thing applied in the boys long jump. People got their jumps in before it got real bad and beat out some very good long-jumpers. It was weird.”
Deep boys team
The Lovell boys had an outstanding meet, more than meeting the challenge of competing in Class 3A by placing third out of eight teams with 91 points behind only champion Cody (165.83) and Star Valley (143.5). The Bulldogs beat out Powell, Mountain View, Jackson, Lander and Pinedale.
Senior Cade Bishoff and junior Jacob Newman qualified for State in four events each, AJ Dickson, Brandon Teter and Kaleb Mayes three each and four others in one event apiece as nine Lovell boys will be heading to Casper.
“I thought we had good quality (in Afton),” Sanders said. “I’m hoping that quality will come through even more at State.”
Despite the cold, Newman ran a personal record in the 800 meters, placing second behind only Cody’s Brody Smith with a time of 2:00.24.
“For him to get that time (in the cold), that was good,” Sanders said. “He’ll need to start out a little bit quicker at State to keep up with Brody. Brody makes his gap in the first 200 meters, and the gap never changes.”
Mayes qualified for State by placing eighth with a time of 2:09.16, a personal record. The sophomore edged Cody Akin of Powell and David Rule of Pinedale at the finish line.
“Kaleb had to push it at the end to make State,” Sanders said. “It was good that he did it in that weather.”
Coaches named Mayes as the male athlete of the week for his efforts in the 800 and the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.
“We’re pleased he made it in the 800,” Sanders said. “The middle distance and distances races…those are not weak fields.”
Coaches pulled Bischoff from the 100-meter dash and entered him in the 400-meter dash in Afton after noting his strong splits in the 1,600-meter relay. He ran a strong race in his first open 400 competition of the season and placed fifth with a time of 54.68 after running 54.79 in the preliminaries.
Both Newman and senior AJ Dickson placed in the 1,600 meters. Newman placed fifth with a time of 4:52.15, and Dickson was seventh at 4:55.67. All runners ran much slower times than their seeded best times due to the weather, Sanders noted.
“It was a garbage race,” he said. “I don’t think any times were spectacular. Some athletes do better in cold weather, and AJ is not one of them. Jacob, too. We do better in 90 degrees, and others do better when it’s 30 degrees.”
Similarly, Dickson was off his best time in the 3,200 meters by about 16 seconds but placed fifth with a time of 10:48.05 to qualify for State.
Despite the weather, senior Eston Croft was consistent once again in the 110-meter high hurdles, running time of 16.28 second in the preliminaries, qualifying fourth, then running 16.58 in the finals for fourth place.
Cold weather knocked down the times in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, but both teams qualified for State. The 4 by 400 team of Mayes, Brandon Teter, Bischoff and Newman ran a time of 3:37.55, three seconds off their best this year, to place third, and the quartet of Dickson, Merrill Beck, Mayes and Newman placed second in the 4 by 800 relay, though their time of 8:52.19 was 17 seconds slower than Lovell’s previous best time.
Sanders said it’s frustrating to see cold weather hamper times, noting that both relay teams have been knocking on the door of school records. He hopes the weather will be better in Casper.
“We’re excited about the possibilities at State,” he said. “People say, well, we won’t win a team title, but it’s just as exciting because we’ve got things we want to get done. Can we do it?”
The Lovell jumpers were outstanding in Afton when the weather was decent as Lovell went 1, 2, 3 in the triple jump. Senior Drake Welch came up big, winning the event with a jump of 42-½, followed by Brandon Teter at 41-9 and Bischoff at 40-4½. Bischoff fought off the cold to place third at 19-¾.
“The triple jump was at 9 in the morning, so it was a little bit better weather,” Sanders said. “Getting first, second and third – that’s awesome. The long-jumpers saw the worst of it.
“All seven of our triple-jumpers (boys and girls) I was really happy with. Their technique was great. That was a highlight for me.”
Brandon Teter also won the high jump, clearing 6 feet.
Freshman Brent Snyder raised some eyebrows by placing second in the pole vault , tying his personal record at 12 feet.
“For a freshman to come in and get second in a 3A regional, how cool is that?” Sanders said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how Brent does in his career.”
Other boys results at the regional meet included:
100m dash – Dalton Croft 19th in preliminaries, 12.56, Tyler Teter 22nd in prelims, 12.69, Britton Woody 24th in prelims, 12.90; 200m dash – Drake Welch ninth in prelims, 25.00, Croft 13th in prelims, 25.49, Ty Teter 23rd in prelims, 26.86, Richard Mangali 26th in prelims, 29.22; 400m dash – Kaleb Mayes 10th in prelims, 56.77, Porter Nichols 15th in prelims, 57.75, Croft 21st in prelims, 1:01.46; 800 meters – Merrill Beck 14th, 2:12.10, Dalton Nixon 17th, 2:14.52; 1,600 meters – Will Lillard 22nd, 5:25.13, Beck 27th, 5:28.27; 3,200 meters – Brent Snyder 17th, 12:02.13, Lillard 23rd, 12:31.03 (PR); 300-meter hurdles – Ben Cornia 13th in prelims, 51.24; 400-meter relay – Lovell eighth (Dalton Croft, Eston Croft, Woody, Welch), 48.49; long jump – Woody 19th, 17-2¾, Ty Teter 24th, 16-7½, Welch 25th, 16-5¾; pole vault – Jaccob Mickelson 10th, 9-6, Nichols 16th, 8-6; shot put – Garet Fowler 12th, 39-7, Jaret Collins 15th, 37-3, Kyle Burton 16th, 37-0; discus – Fowler 11th, 114-2, Burton 15th, 105-1½, Aaron Monterde 17th, 104-11, Collins 20th, 102-4.
The Lovell girls team qualified 12 athletes for the state track meet and placed sixth with 60.5 points, just 1½ points behind Mountain View and ahead of Lander and Pinedale.
As with the boys, the Lady Bulldog triple-jumpers came through at Regionals, as four placed to qualify for State. Sophomore Trysa Flood was the top placer, jumping 32-1 to place fifth, followed by both Mandi Jo Baxendale and Kincaid Johnston tied for sixth at 31-11½ and Chayli McArthur eighth at 31-9½. Coaches named Johnston as the Lovell female athlete of the week.
“Four going to State – that was the funnest part of the weekend for me,” Sanders said. “The girls had been struggling because we had worked them and they weren’t fresh. We tapered last week.
“Mandi Jo started it off for us. She was in an early flight and the others fed off of her. I was so happy for them. They were really good with their technique. They’ve come so far. They’re a great group and listen to everything you say.”
McArthur placed second in the long jump with a leap of 15-9½, and Sanders said the senior’s strength helped her in the cold.
Senior Whitney Grant won the pole vault, clearing 9-6, and Shelby Wardell also qualified for State by placing seventh with a personal-record vault of 8-6.
“The pole vault will be interesting at State,” Sanders said. “On the other side of the state there are three girls who go 10 feet (as Grant has gone). It will be very competitive. Shelby has progressed really well in the pole vault.”
Sophomore Mya Meier placed sixth in the high jump, clearing 4-7.
In sprints, sophomore Emily Snell qualified eighth in the preliminaries with a time of 30.18, then ran 29.27 in the finals to place sixth.
Junior Jaclyn Caldwell placed in both the 1,600 and the 3,200 meters. Caldwell fought off “gross weather,” Sanders said, to place fifth in the metric mile with a time of 5:43.23 and sixth in the 3,200 at 12:31.18.
Two Lady Bulldogs qualified for State in the hurdles. Chayli
McArthur qualified fourth in the 300-meter low hurdles with a time of 49.32, then ran 49.17 in the finals to also place fourth. Sanders said her best race may be ahead of her.
“That’s the big goal for her – in the 48s in the 300s,” he said. “It’s gonna happen.”
Another senior, Grant, zipped to a personal-record time of 16.49 in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles to qualify sixth, then ran 18.10 in the finals while also pole-vaulting in the same frame but maintained her sixth-place finish.
The Lovell 400-meter relay team of Snell, Eriko Arimura, Grant and Caitlyn Lundberg qualified for State with a fourth-place finish in 56.90, but the thrilling race was the 1,600-meter relay, Sanders said, as the quartet of Flood, Wardell, Charri McArthur and Chayli McArthur beat Cody to finish fourth in 4:23.74.
“Chayli was just determined and blew past a Cody girl on the final lap,” Sanders said. “I was worried. I knew we were not going to qualify with our time and were sixth or seventh at times during the race. I was screaming my guts out, and C. (Caleb) Sanders was screaming. The girls showed some guts and went after it.
“You could see it in their faces. They were all determined to do it. It was a competitive field. I credit Chayli, who did that when she had just run the 300 hurdles and long-jumped.”
Other girls results at the regional meet included:
100-meter dash – Whitney Grant 11th in prelims, 14.31, Emily Snell 12th in prelims, 14.33, Caitlyn Lundberg 13th in prelims, 14.34, Madison Bryson 21st in prelims, 15.01; 200-meter dash – Bryson 13th in prelims, 31.05, Kincaid Johnston 16th in prelims, 31.97; 400m dash – Trysa Flood 15th in prelims, 1:10.55; 800 meters – Jaclyn Caldwell 10th, 2:35.71, Charri McArthur 18th, 2:47.34, Afton George 26th, 3:06.30; 1,600 meters – Jessica Caldwell 19th, 6:28.02, George 24th, 6:59.65; 3,200 meters – Jessica Caldwell 14th, 13:41.94; 100m hurdes – Madison Harper 19th in prelims, 23.88; 300m hurdles – Eriko Arimura 11th in prelims, 53.59, Shelby Wardell 14th in prelims, 54.85; long jump – Caitlyn Lundberg 15th, 13-9¾, Kincaid Johnston tie 17th, 13-7½, Bryson tie 21st, 12-8¼; high jump – Savanna Savage ninth, 4-7, Mandi Jo Baxendale tie 12th, 4-5; pole vault – Snell 12th, 7-6 (PR); shot put – Hailee Nielson 16th, 25-0, Sable Angell 22nd, 20-7; discus – Sierra Montanez 15th, 74-1, Angell 19th, 65-6, Nielson 25th, 50-2½.
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs are off to Casper for the state track meet this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Action begins at 11 a.m. Thursday and continues at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
By David Peck