Strong performances across the board led to a solid finish for the Lovell Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs at the 3A West Regional Track and Field Meet in Cody over the weekend.
The Lovell boys placed fifth in the eight-team field with 62.5 points trailing champion Star Valley with 160 points, Cody with 123, Powell with 100.5 and Jackson with 90. Trailing Lovell were Lander (55), Mountain View (39) and Pinedale (32).
The Lady Bulldogs placed sixth with 67 points behind regional champ Cody with 125 points, Powell with 115 points, Star Valley with 105, Jackson with 93 and Mountain View with 88. Finishing behind Lovell were Pinedale (34) and Lander (32).
“We qualified a lot of people for State – 22,” said Lovell coach Joshua Sanders. “I was very pleased.”
As is almost always the case, some athletes came through with top notch performances and others didn’t, but by and large it was a good weekend,” Sanders said.
“This region was very strong in certain areas,” he said. “Typically, the West Region has always been stronger, especially in middle distance and distance races.”
One of the most interesting battles on the weekend took place between two Lovell teammates when sophomore Brent Snyder and freshman Brenden Lundberg kept topping each other in the triple jump Saturday morning. Both hit the 40-foot mark for the first time and both broke and then re-broke personal records. Eventually, Lundberg placed third with a jump of 40-4 ¾, Snyder fourth at 40-1.
“It was fun,” Sanders said. “The 40-foot mark is a big mark to hit. Brent has just barely started to pick up the triple jump, and Brenden is a freshman. Coming in we had two others (including the now injured Brandon Teter) who were above them, but they did awesome at Regionals.
“They were feeding off the energy that was there. They were playing leap frog.”
Snyder also placed fourth in the pole vault, clearing 11-7.
Freshman Jacob Grant placed fourth in the high jump and set a personal record by clearing the bar at 5-6.
“The fun thing about Regionals is that you don’t know who will make State and who won’t,” Sanders said. “We didn’t pencil in Jacob.”
Unfortunately, Grant was injured on his first attempt at 5-8 and is questionable for the state track meet.
In the throws, junior Jaret Collins set a personal record and advanced to State with a seventh-place finish at 43-6½, peaking at the right time.
In running events, the Bulldogs put together a pair of strong relay teams. The 1,600-meter relay team of Kaleb Mayes, Porter Nichols, Will Lillard and Jacob Newman placed third with a Lovell season best time of 3:34.51, hot on the heels of second-place Jackson (3:33.12). The Lovell team is only about a second off the Lovell school record of 3:33.21 set last year.
“I’m hoping they can do better than that,” Sanders said. “I thought they would beat Jackson. Some of them had so many intense events over two days. I’m hoping that at State they can recover and perform better.”
Earlier, the 3,200-meter foursome of Mayes, Nichols, Dalton Nixon and Newman placed third at 8:42.54, trailing only Star Valley and Cody. The Bulldogs were running second behind Star Valley for seven of the eight laps until Cody phenom Brody Smith burned the final 800 to pass the Bulldogs. That Lovell relay team is also hoping to better a Lovell school record – 8:33.07 – set last season.
“It would be a major disappointment if they don’t break the school record,” Sanders said. “That group can run much faster than that. Some of them don’t recover well and at State it (the relay) will be the first race for all four of them. Cody shouldn’t beat us, and we’re not that far behind Star Valley. Star Valley has a tremendous stable of 800 runners.”
The Lovell 400-meter relay team of Tyler Teter, Will Lillard, Snyder and Lundberg placed seventh with a time of 47.13.
As they were throughout the season, the Bulldogs were strong in the 800 meters. Jacob Newman placed second with a time of 2:00.07, Kaleb Mayes fifth at 2:01.81 and Porter Nichols sixth at 2:02. Sophomore Dalton Nixon was a solid 12th with a time of 2:07.53, a personal record.
“That was tremendous,” Sanders said. “We had three guys under 2:02, and Dalton ran a tremendous race, too. He would have qualified for State in the other region (East 3A). It was the first race (Friday), and they were fresh and ready to go. Those were fast times.
Newman also placed fifth in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:48.53, and Nichols placed fourth in the 400-meter dash, racing the single lap in 53.43 after running 54.04 in preliminaries Friday. Senior Merrill Beck ran the mile for the first time this season and set a new personal record by 14 seconds to finish 13th with a time of 5:06.75.
Will Lillard qualified for State in one of his two sprint races. The sophomore placed seventh in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.21 after running 24.11 in prelims, but he was just out of the running in the 100 meters, finishing 10th in prelims with a time of 11.79, a personal record.
Other Lovell boys results at the regional meet were:
100m dash – Tyler Teter 14th in prelims, 12.01, Brenden Lundberg 26th in prelims, 12.70; 200m dash – Ty Teter 14th in prelims, 24.97, Hudson Wilkerson 17th in prelims, 25.23 (PR), Dalton Nixon 27th in prelims, 26.76; 400m dash – Merrill Beck 16th in prelims, 57.67 (PR), Nixon 24th in prelims, 1:00.33, Caden Zeller 25th in prelims, 1:07.46; 1,600 meters – Hunter Steenbakkers 24th, 5:24.99, Richard Mangali 27th, 5:50.97; 3,200 meters – Steenbakkers 21st, 12:26.25, Dillinger Wilkerson 22nd, 13:32.60; 110-meter high hurdles – Ben Cornia 10th in prelims, 19.08 (PR), Antonio Garza 11th in prelims, 19.56; 300-meter intermediate hurdles – Cornia 12th in prelims, 45.48 (PR), Garza 17th in prelims, 50.03; long jump – Lundberg 16th, 18-0½ (PR), Brent Snyder 18th, 17-10½, Hudson Wilkerson 22nd, 17-1¾; triple jump – Mat Savage 20th, 33-3; pole vault – H. Wilkerson 20th, 8-7; shot put – Kyle Burton 12th, 41-3, Dylan Hereth 15th, 40-2 ½, Frank Minchow 22nd, 37-6; discus – Burton 12th, 114-7, Hereth 19th, 105-3, Collins 21st, 104-6, Minchow 30th, 80-8.
For the girls squad, Sanders noted the performance of some Lovell juniors in the running events.
Emily Snell placed third in both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, and Trysa Flood placed sixth in the 100-meter dash. Shelby Wardell placed eighth in the 300-meter low hurdles.
“All of our sprinters, both boys and girls, performed super well,” Sanders said. “They were throwing out PRs like candy at the Mustang Days parade.”
Snell ran the 100 in 13.58 to place third after qualifying in fourth place Friday at 13.56. Flood ran the finale in 13.81 to place sixth after running 13.68 in the prelims.
Snell ran a personal record 27.93 in the 200-meter finals to place third after qualifying at 28.25 on Friday.
“The 200 is not traditionally as strong a race for Emily. She gets a quick burst and hasn’t been able to sustain it,” Sanders said. “But she looked strong and powerful in all of her races (in Cody).”
Shelby Wardell ran two personal records in the 300-meter low hurdles, running 52.40 in the prelims Friday and 52.24 Saturday to place eighth. Sanders was pleased.
“She’s finally running the first part of that race quicker,” he said.
The 400-meter relay team of Caitlyn Lundberg, Snell, Flood and Bailey Mitchell placed third to qualify for State, running a time of 55.06.
Senior Charri McArthur qualified for State in the 400-meter dash by running two consistently strong races. She ran the lap in 1:05.89 in Friday’s preliminary and 1:05.82 in Saturday’s finale to place sixth.
Lovell suffered an unfortunate crash on the back stretch of the first lap of the 1,600 meters Saturday when both senior Jaclyn Caldwell and freshman Karlee Burton went down after being tripped in the middle of a pack of runners. Caldwell recovered to finish 14th in a time of 6:03.33, 18 seconds slower than her best time of the year earlier in the spring, which would have had her challenging for a placing spot. Burton finished 17th at 6:11.32, 13 seconds off her PR set last week.
Sophomore Jessica Caldwell did set a PR in the metric mile, however, covering the four laps in 6:09.36 to finish 15th.
The Caldwell sisters will go to State in the 3,200 meters as Jaclyn placed seventh with a time of 12:55.45 and Jessica was eighth at 13:01.21. Burton was just out of the running in ninth place, covering the eight laps in 13:06.80.
The 1,600-meter relay team of Wardell, Charri McArthur, Gracie Hall and Trysa Flood placed fifth and almost qualified for State by time, finishing just about a second behind the state qualifying time of 4:21.44 by running 4:22.13.
The 3,200-meter quartet of McArthur, Jessica Caldwell, Burton and Jaclyn Caldwell finished sixth with a time of 13:32.09 but prequalified for State earlier in the season.
Lovell jumpers excelled in Cody, with three Lady Bulldogs qualifying for State in the triple jump, two in the high jump and one in the long jump.
Sophomore Mandi Jo Baxendale jumped a personal record 32-2¼ in the triple jump to place third, and Trysa Flood sailed 31-11 to place sixth, freshman Megan Cornia 31-4¼ to place seventh.
“Mandi Jo stepped up in the triple jump,” Sanders said. “She can do this. She just needs consistency in her approach. Having three qualify, I was happy with that, and Savanna Savage missed the finals by a quarter inch.”
Senior Caitlyn Lundberg placed fourth in the long jump with a leap of 15-½.
Savage was back to form in the high jump, clearing 4-7 tie for third, her best effort in more than a month. Baxendale also qualified for State, placing sixth with a jump of 4-5.
“It was nice to have two qualify in the high jump,” Sanders said. “Savanna Savage didn’t jump well last week and we were
all stressed about her making it.”
Wardell cleared 8-8 in the pole vault to place sixth and earn a spot at State. Snell was 10th at 7-8.
Senior Sierra Montanez punched her ticket to State by placing in both throwing events. She threw 30-3 ½ in the shot put to place sixth and 88-1 in the discus to place seventh.
Other Lovell girls results at the regional meet were:
100m dash – Caitlyn Lundberg 12th in prelims, 13.98, Bailey Mitchell 13th in prelims, 14.04; 200m dash – Mitchell 10th in prelims, 28.90, Emily Mangus 14th in prelims, 29.93 (PR), Taylor Woodford 23rd in prelims, 32.09; 400m dash – Mandi Jo Baxendale 16th in prelims, 1:11.48, Mitchell 17th in prelims, 1:11.79, Woodford 18th in prelims, 1:11.88; 800 meters – McArthur 13th, 2:37.50, Ashley Peterson 22nd, 2:59.85; 300m hurdles – Andrea Monterde 18th, 57.90, Meyja McArthur 19th, 58.28 (PR), Elizabeth Price 21st, 1:02.15; long jump – Gracie Hall 10th, 14-1, Megan Cornia 11th, 14-¾, Madison Bryson 17th, 13-8½ (tie PR); triple jump – Savanna Savage 10th, 30-5¼; high jump – Jade Minchow 10th, 4-3, Gracie Hall 11th, 4-3; shot put – Richellena Rule 21st, 26-8¾, Hailee Nielson 22nd, 25-9, Minchow 26th, 23-5; discus – Rule 18th, 69-9 (PR), Nielson 20th, 66-6, Grace Edwards 25th, 62-7 (PR).
The Wyoming State Track Meet kicks off in Casper today (Thursday)
and runs for three days at Casper Kelly Walsh High School. Action begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with the 3,200 meters and continues Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. each day.