EVANSTON – A last-minute track and field meet down in Evanston was added to the Big Piney schedule last week to assist in filling the gap from the start of the season back on March 18 in Casper until this week.
The Punchers' home meet on March 24 was cancelled due to ice on the track, while the March 31 meet down in Rawlins was also called off following a winter storm.
The team was able to get out and compete once again last Thursday, as they ventured down to Evanston, where the team secured enough points to finish second overall through combined team scores. Other teams in attendance included Evanston, Pinedale, Green River, Rock Springs, Mountain View and Kemmerer.
According to Big Piney head coach Bill Lehr, he was happy to finally have his team compete in a meet following nearly a month since its first.
“We were really lucky,” he said. “It was very windy, but the kids performed extremely well.”
The biggest performance to come out of the meet was from junior athlete Adam Willoughby, who cleared a height of 13 feet, six inches to set a new school record. The previous school record was 12 feet, seven inches, which was set by Todd Graham back in 1989. The height was also adequate to qualify Willoughby for state.
“We had quite a few more kids qualify for state with their times,” Lehr said.
On the girls side, Lehr said multiple strong showings occurred out on the track. Junior Grace Tanner picked up additional state qualifying times in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash events after she took second in the 100 with a time of 12.74 seconds and went on to finish second in the 200-meter event with a time of 26.90 seconds. She then zipped by the competition in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing second with a time of 15.71 seconds and won the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.79 seconds.
The girls 4x100 relay team, consisting of freshman Alda Acosta, senior Rachel Forrester and juniors Liberty Runyan and Mic Butner took second overall with a time of 55.38 seconds. The 4x400 relay team of Butner, Runyan, junior McKenzi Davison and freshman Janey Hunt also took second, finishing the race with a time of 4:40.83. Only two teams competed in the 4x800 relay, with Big Piney finishing second to Evanston with a time of 12:29.63. The relay team featured Butner, Hunt, freshman Paige Nielson and junior Melissa Merritt.
In girls shot put, junior Cadee Mager took first overall with an impressive throw of 32 feet, three inches.
On the boys side, junior Zane Meisner qualified for state after finishing third in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.10 seconds, while Willoughby also earned a state qualifying time, taking fifth overall with a time of 16.60 seconds. Meisner also had a strong showing in the 300 hurdles, finishing first overall with a time of 42.53 seconds.
Junior Chancy Hunt was yet another Puncher to achieve qualifying times for state in both the 100 and 200-meter dash races. In the 100, Hunt finished third overall with a time of 11.05 seconds and went on to finish second in the 200, crossing the line with a time of 23.13 seconds.
In other qualifying performances, junior Tristan Barney cleared a height of 11 feet, 6 inches to advance to state.
Big Piney took second overall in the 4x100 meter relay race with a team consisting of junior Jake Pape, junior Noah Lewis, Meisner and Hunt, where they finished with a time of 46.53 seconds. Later in the 4x400, the relay team of sophomore Tate Hughes, Lewis, Meisner and Hunt finished second overall with a time of 3:42.65.
Following the strong showing for only their second meet of the season, coach Lehr says they will continue to push themselves in practice to prepare for upcoming meets.
The coach’s primary focus will be on individual events leading up to the meets, he said, as next week will feature a big ACT test for students on Wednesday and Prom on Saturday.
He says athletes on the team have been nothing short of fantastic to work with so far this season
“They step up and do everything we ask of them,” Lehr said. “We have several girls and guys close to qualifying, so I’d like to get some more qualified for state.”
The only thing that stands in their way is weather, the coach added. If they can luck out with continued warm weather, times will continue to go down for his athletes.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” he said. “We were just tickled to have a track meet; that was the big thing for our kids.”
Today’s meet in Riverton is set to begin at 2 p.m., with the next meet occurring in Green River on Friday, April 21 at 12:30 p.m.