THERMOPOLIS – The Big Piney High School track and field team is on pace to have a strong finish to the season, as athletes are peaking with their top performances at just the right time.
The team rounded out the final pair of regular season meets last week, competing in Pinedale last Wednesday and venturing to Thermopolis on Friday. According to head coach Bill Lehr, it was great to have two meets in a short timeframe to knock off the rust and get some valuable time out on the track before hitting the postseason hard.
“It was great to get to Pinedale,” he said. “It was a good meet with good weather and things started popping.”
Pinedale hosted the Mountain Man Invitational on Wednesday, where Big Piney finished with a combined team score of 285 points to finish second behind Star Valley’s 339 points. When splitting up boys and girls, the Big Piney girls won the meet with 146 points, while the boys took second with 139 points. Other teams in attendance included Pinedale, Jackson Hole, Kemmerer and Farson.
“It was nice to run against some good competition from Star Valley,” Lehr said. “Pinedale has some nice athletes to compete against as well.”
On the girls’ side, junior Grace Tanner had a big day, finishing second in the 100-meter dash in 12.9 seconds. She later went on to take second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.76 seconds and won the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 48.92 seconds.
In the 1,600-meter race, junior McKenzi Davison kept a solid pace to earn the top spot in the field of seven runners, crossing the line in 5:47.97. Junior teammate Melissa Merritt finished close behind in third place, with a time of 6:12.64. Davison continued to dominate the competition as she entered into the 400-meter dash, finishing first in 1:05.61.
Later in the meet, freshman Alda Acosta took first in the 200-meter dash with a quick time of 27.84 seconds, while senior Rachel Forrester ended up in third with a time of 29.51 seconds.
Junior thrower Cadee Mager continued to impress in throwing events as she won the shot put with a big throw of 32 feet, 7 inches. Over in the pole vault, Davison cleared 8 feet to take second.
On the boys’ side, junior Zane Meisner earned a second-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 17.42 seconds, while junior Adam Willoughby took third with a time of 17.45 seconds. It was more of the same in the 300-meter hurdles, as Meisner won the event with a time of 42.13 seconds, with Willoughby taking second in 43.56 seconds. Willoughby went on to round out his successful day with a win in the pole vault.
In the 100-meter dash, junior Chancy Hunt had a big day, finishing second with a time of 11.70 seconds. Hunt went on to finish second in the 200 with a time of 23.65 seconds.
In the high jump, sophomore Tate Hughes surpassed the competition to win the event with a jump of 5 feet, 10 inches.
The team’s successes continued on Friday, when it attended the Bobcat Invitational in Thermopolis. The girls team won with 108 points and the boys finished third with 83.75 points. As a team, Big Piney took first overall with 191.75 points. The meet was a big one, with 22 teams in total. Since nine of those teams will be going up against Big Piney at the regional meet this weekend, Lehr says his team is sitting in a good place for the postseason.
The coach said the meet was a good opportunity to learn where his team can score the most points when they get to regionals and to learn what they need to do to finish ahead of opposing teams.
On the girls’ side, Davison qualified for state in the 400-meter run, along with the pole vault.
In sprint events, Tanner won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.05 seconds, before winning the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 49.12 seconds. She went on to win the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.91 seconds and took second overall in the 200-meter dash event with a race time of 26.88 seconds. Later in the meet, the girls 4x400 relay took first overall with a time of 4:25.97.
Mager went on to win shot put after throwing an impressive distance of 35 feet, 8 inches.
State qualifiers on the boys side included junior Jake Pape in the pole vault, along with the 4x800 relay team that consisted of senior Kaden Kranendonk, freshman Creeden Schell, junior Tristan Barney and Hughes after earning a time of 9:01.34. As for the 4x100, senior Devin Hughes, junior Noah Lewis, Pape and Hunt ran the fastest time of the season, completing the race with a time of 55.17 seconds to finish fifth overall. As for the 4x400 relay team, Big Piney finished first overall with a quick time of 3:34.41.
Willoughby won the pole vault event, while Hunt took first overall in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.46 seconds.
The team will head to Lander on Friday, May 12, and compete through Saturday, May 13, at the 2A Southwest Regional Track and Field Meet. The team will continue to work on individual events in preparation for the meet this week, but Lehr says his program is looking strong as they enter the final weeks of the season.
“The kids look pretty good,” he said. “Our biggest thing is we have one more week to get into peak (condition) so we are ready for state.”