Grizzlies gaining strength and bodies for home stretch

The Rocky Mountain High School track and field squad is beginning to focus their eye on the prize – the regional and state track meets – with only one more regular season meet on the schedule, this Friday’s Bobcat Invitational in Thermopolis.

Last Friday, the Grizz traveled to the Meeteetse Invitational and enjoyed some nice weather, plus a squad that is beginning to get healthy.

Coach Tobee Christiansen said he was pleased with the level of competition offered at the meet, noting, “It was nice to have a lot of bodies there.”

Rocky Mountain freshman Angelina Helms easily clears the bar in the high jump during the Rocky Mountain Invitational on April 21. The Grizz will compete in Thermopolis this Friday. Photo by  David Peck
Rocky Mountain freshman Angelina Helms easily clears the bar in the high jump during the Rocky Mountain Invitational on April 21. The Grizz will compete in Thermopolis this Friday.
Photo by David Peck

The Grizzly boys placed second in the 13-team field with 82 points, just six points behind champion Powell and 3½ points ahead of Cody, and the girls placed fourth with 59 points, behind only Powell, Cody and Thermopolis.

One of the athletes getting healthy is sophomore Cole Simmons, who has been slowed by a quad injury. Simmons entered the long jump for the first time this season and not only won the event but prequalified for State with a jump of 20-3¼, a personal record. He also ran the 400-meter dash for the first time in a meet and placed third with a time of 54.88 seconds.

“We put him in the long jump for the first time this year and he scratches on his first attempt, then goes 20-3 on his second jump and prequalifies,” Christiansen said. “Then I pulled him out of it as a precaution.”

“That was his first open 400. I think he’ll go a little quicker than that.”

Brother Cannon Simmons suffered a false start in the 100-meter dash but placed fourth in the 200-meter dash at 24.74, the identical time he ran at the Lovell meet.

The Rocky distance runners are coming on. Senior John Higgins won the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:06.94, and sophomore Dominic Twomey placed third at 5:09.99, his best time of the season. Twomey also placed second in the 3,200 meters, running the eight laps in 11:33.10, again his best time of the season.

“(Coach) Jerry (Bellmyer) is doing a great job training them,” Christiansen said. “They work hard. They’re putting in the time to get better.”

The quartet of Higgins, Caleb Horrocks, Kirby Winland and Tristan Jewell placed second in the 1,600-meter relay with a season-best time of 3:45.46.

“That’s the first time that crew has run it this year,” Christiansen said. “They turned in good splits. I was happy with them. I think they’ll take a couple more seconds off this week.”

Sophomore thrower Zac Zier had a strong meet in Meeteetse, blowing away his previous personal record in the discus by nearly 13 feet with a throw of 132-1 to win the event in Meeteetse. He also placed second in the shot put with a throw of 43-6.

“That’s crazy,” Christiansen said of Zier’s discus throw. “He’s starting to be dangerous now. His technique is coming along. The strength is already there.”

Christiansen also noted the improvement of freshman Alecx Christensen, who improved his personal record in the shot put by nearly three feet with a toss of 36-3½, placing 19th.

“I love kids like that who don’t necessarily win the meet but come and compete and challenge themselves,” he said.

Freshman Jonathan Allred reached the 6-foot mark in the high jump again and won the event.

Other boys results included:

200m dash – Austin Grohman 18th, 26.86; 400m dash – Lathan May 14th, 1:00.55; 1,600 meters – Miguel Gurrola 15th, 5:59.09; long jump – Tristan Jewell eighth, 18-1; pole vault – Kirby Winland 11th, 8-6; shot put – Austin Grohman 41st, 29-10½; discus – Alecx Christensen 23rd, 93-9, Grohman 36th, 77-11 (PR).

Arnold returns to form

Sophomore Marissa Arnold is gaining strength and getting into shape again after missing some time this spring with a hip injury, Christiansen said. Arnold placed fourth in the 100-meter dash and prequalified for State with a time of 13.73, and she hit her best jump of the season in the long jump, placing sixth at 14-9.

“Marissa popped a 14-9 in the long jump and prequalified in the 100,” Christiansen said. “She’s getting both (healthier and in shape). She’s getting stronger and more confident, too. She finishes the 100 well.”

Freshman Angelina Helms ran a personal record time of 29 seconds flat in the 200-meter dash and placed eighth.

Senior Mikaela Hocker placed second in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles with a time of 17.53 and Livia Higgins placed seventh at 19.17. Higgins was strong again in the 300-meter low hurdles, running a time of 52.62 to place second.

The quartet of Marissa Arnold, Helms, Brenda Timmons and Pepper Lewis placed second in the 400-meter relay, and the foursome of Marissa Arnold, Maddy Hocker, Summer Johnson and Abigail Arnold ran a time of 5:00.65 in the 1,600-meter relay, placing fifth.

Timmons placed in two jumping events, sailing 14-8 in the long jump to place seventh and going 28-10½, a personal record, in the triple jump to place eighth.

Pepper Lewis won the high jump, clearing 4-11, and Helms tied for fourth at 4-7.

In throwing events, senior Jennifer Parker placed sixth in the shot put with a toss of 30-2 and set a personal record in the discus at 84-5, good for 10th place.

Christiansen noted the improvement of freshman Mariah Mader, who threw 15 feet further than her personal record in the discus, finishing 19th with a throw of 73-2 after throwing 58 feet at the Rocky Mountain Twilight.

“Her form is getting better,” he noted.

Other girls results included:

100m dash – Angelina Helms ninth, 13.90, Pepper Lewis 11th, 13.98; Naomi Alcala 17th, 14.57; 200m dash – Alcala 23rd, 31.51; 400m dash – Maddy Hocker 14th, 1:16.03; 100m hurdles – Abigail Arnold 13th, 20.27; long jump – Maddy Hocker 27th, 12-0 (PR); triple jump – Mikaela Hocker ninth, 28-7¾, Summer Johnson 12th, 28-1¾; high jump – Kaitlyn Hayes 10th, 4-5; shot put – Mikayla McWhirter 15th, 28-2, Mariah Mader 25th, 24-10; discus – McWhirter 18th, 73-10.

Thermop Friday

The Grizzlies will compete at the Bobcat Invitational Friday in Thermopolis. Action begins at 1 p.m.

“It should be exciting,” Christiansen said. “There are a lot of teams coming, just about everybody we’ll see at Regionals. It will be a good chance to see where we stand with stuff.”

The 2A West Regional meet is May 15-16 in Lander.

By David Peck