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April 29, 2010 3:50 am

Lucky 13 ... for now

Written by Tribune Staff

Additional Panthers waiting to learn fate

The Powell High School track team has qualified in at least 13 events for Friday's Wyoming Track Classic in Casper. In several other events, the team was waiting for word on possible invitations as today's (Thursday) paper went to press.

“Just making the list for an event like this is an honor,” said Panther head coach Scott Smith. “When you consider that they're talking about all classes, being in the top 15 — that's pretty special.”

In races that run in lanes, the eight fastest performers are invited to compete in Casper. In the longer distance races and all field events, the Classic invites the top 10, plus ties, to compete. Rankings are based solely on times and distances recorded in competition this outdoor track season. No relay races are part of the event schedule.

The Panthers' Kyle Sullivan will be the most active of the Powell tracksters come Friday. Sullivan, the defending 3A high jump champion, is scheduled to compete in that event, as well as both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles.

Sullivan ranks in the top five of all three events.

Almost as busy will be Panther teammate Drew MaGill. MaGill will compete in the long jump and triple jump, events that he spent the winter honing during indoor track season.

“The indoor season helped me a lot compared to the kids who were out for other sports,” MaGill said. “Since everyone is together in indoor, you see a lot more 4A competition and it pushes you to get better. That's what's pretty cool about (the Classic). It's the top athletes in the state. We don't get to see a lot of 4A during the year, but this brings everyone together.”

MaGill heads to Casper ranked fifth in the long jump and seventh in the triple jump. He's looking to improve on his distances in both events on what he considers a friendly surface.

“I love the pits there,” MaGill said. “I think that gives me confidence, and I just push myself harder.”

Also attending for the Panther boys will be Colby Gilmore in the 400, Jacob Beuster in the shot put and Josh Cragoe, who will line up alongside Sullivan for the 110-meter hurdles to make Powell the only school with two runners in the eight-man field.

Gilmore is a top-five projection in the 400-meter field.

On the girls' side, the Panthers will be represented by at least three competitors. Kassey MacDonald will run the 800 for Powell.

Brooke Nisley will line up as a freshman in the 1600 for the Panthers, while Kendra Ostrom competes as part of the Classic's largest field in the girls' high jump.

“It's amazing,” said Ostrom. “One of my goals at the start of the year was to make the Classic, but I didn't know if it would happen or not.”

It did, and now the Panther sophomore will be one of 13 competitors going after the title of Wyoming's top jumper. Eight of those 13, including Ostrom, have recorded season-best jumps of 5'1” heading to Casper.

“It's really competitive this year, especially on the west side of the state,” said Ostrom. “There's so many people jumping about the same height. It comes down to who has a good day and who's having a bad day.”

Ostrom is having no shortage of good days lately. After a slow start to the year, the Panthers' high jump leader has consistently cleared the five-foot mark her last couple of meets and takes some confidence to Casper.

“I've been doing some exercises at home in addition to the stuff we do here in practice, and I think its helped me jump a lot higher,” said Ostrom. “I want to stay consistent and keep clearing five feet.”

The girls' high jump could also be one of the day's most hotly contested events. All 13 competitors have season-best performances sandwiched within a narrow three-inch window.

For other members of the Panthers' roster, Wednesday morning brought a chapter in the waiting game to see if their names would be added to the Classic roster. None had a more agonizing wait than Powell's Desiree Murray.

A consistent performer throughout the season's first month for Powell, Murray was the first alternate in three different events for the Classic. Smith remained hopeful the field would open for her in at least one of those events.

“It happens every year,” said Smith, noting Powell had a runner added to last year's Classic just 24 hours before the event. “You get kids that qualify in the 800, 1600 and the 3200, for instance. They're not going to run all three of those races on the same day so close together, so they'll drop one and concentrate on the other two or something.”

Joining Murray in the waiting game are the Panthers' Marquette McArthur, currently the first one out in girls' discus, Andrew Young, who sits just outside the field in both the shot put and the discus, and MaGill, who was 0.01 seconds off the needed pace to be one of the state's top eight in the 200 meters.

“We'll wait and see,” said Smith. “They'll compete in whatever we get an invitation for.”

Although weather conditions aren't shaping up to be the most favorable, track fans heading to Casper to watch this year's Wyoming Track Classic should keep an eye on several meet records that could be imperiled by this year's field.

In the girls' discus, all eyes will be on Natrona County's Baillie Gibson. Her state-leading throw of 171'4” — no, that's not a typo — is more than 40 feet better than the rest of the state this season and more than 20 feet ahead of the current Classic record of 150'5”, which has endured for nearly three decades.

Conditions permitting, an even older record could be at stake when Sullivan and Cragoe line up for the boys' 110-meter hurdles. State leader Taylor Villegas' Classic qualifying time of 14.06 seconds is nearly two-tenths of a second faster than the meet record of 14.24, which was set clear back in 1966 and stands as the Classic's longest-standing record.

Sheridan's Kody Williams leads MaGill and the remainder of the boys' long jump field as the only Wyoming high schooler to leap past 23 feet this season. Hitting 23 feet or beyond at the Classic would surpass a record that has stood since 1987.

The 2010 Wyoming Track Classic is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Friday at Harry Geldien Stadium on the campus of Kelly Walsh High School in Casper.