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Panthers claim 17 slots

PHS entry heavy on field events at track classic

The Powell High School track team earned 17 event slots for Friday’s running of the Wyoming Track Classic. The annual elite competition provides a showcase for the state’s top competitors in each non-relay event to go head-to-head against one another at Casper’s Kelly Walsh High School.

As one would expect this season, the Panthers’ entry is stacked heavily in favor of the throwing events. Nine of Powell’s event slots come in either the shot put or the discus.

That crowd starts in the boys’ shot put ring, where Garrett Lynch, Vince Sleep and Garrett Michael will all represent the Panthers. Lynch set a new Powell High School record on Saturday with a toss of 55-3 3/4. He took the record away from Panther teammate Vince Sleep, who holds a current season-best mark of 52-6.

Together, the tandem are the only throwers to register a distance of greater than 50 feet in this year’s Track Classic field. Michael enters the ring with a season-best mark of 46-5 1/2, 10th best among distances reported this season.

For those curious, the Track Classic record in the shot put is 61-4, held since 1989 by Lovell’s Chad Lindsey.

Lynch and Sleep will return to the throwing ring in the discus, where they are two of the three throwers in the state to surpass the 150-foot barrier this spring. Lynch, the defending 3A discus champion, leads the state with a throw of 158-9. Sleep is seeded third in the competition with a top toss of 152-8 on the books this season. Sandwiched between them and looking to challenge will be Kelly Walsh’s Jake Giel, who owns a throw of 157-3.

There’s a 7-foot gap behind Sleep back to the rest of the field.

Not to be outdone, the Panther girls will also send a one-two punch into the discus ring. Juniors Tori Sleep and Shawnea Harrington are seeded sixth and seventh, respectively. Sleep owns a season-best throw of 117-8 in the event. Harrington’s best to date in 2013 is a toss of 116 feet.

Sundance’s Kacie O’Connor leads the field with a season-best toss of 133-2.

The dynamic duo of Sleep and Harrington will also take their act to the shot put ring, where Harrington currently holds the No. 3 distance in the state at 38- 3/4. Sleep is seeded fifth with a top distance this season of 37-5 1/2.

They’ll be part of a shot put field that’s frantically chasing after Cody’s Kiara Skinner, who owns the state’s best toss of 42-3 1/2. Rock Springs’ Maliya Crouch has also flirted with the 40-foot barrier, going 39-8 this season.

Many of the Panthers’ other Track Classic qualifiers will be pulling double duty on Friday as well. Anissa Warner will compete in both the high jump and the triple jump. With a season-best high jump of 5-1, Warner is seeded sixth in a field that looks to chase down Lyman’s Ann Wingeleth, who owns a state-best height of 5-8 in the event.

Incidently, should Wingeleth match that performance in Casper this Friday, it would set a new Track Classic record in the event. The old mark of 5-7 was set in 1990 by Cody’s Chris Lazz and was matched in 2011 by Tongue River’s Hunter Vineyard.

Warner is also seeded seventh in the triple jump after posting a season-best leap of 34-9 1/2. The top distance in the state this season belongs to Burns’ Shana Wilcoxson at 36-10 1/2.

On the boys’ side, Kalei Smith is seeded fourth in the high jump, having cleared 6-3 in less than ideal conditions at Powell’s home track meet. In Casper, he’ll be looking to track down top-seeded Ben Mancuso. The Burlington senior has cleared the bar at 6-7 this season.

Smith will also step into the blocks in the 110-meter hurdles, where he holds the No. 5 seed in the state with a time of 15.32. The race is generally one of the more exciting at the Track Classic as barely more than one second separates the field from frontrunner Joey Czeliecz of Kelly Walsh. Czeliecz holds a time of 14.46 this season in the event.

Lining up alongside Smith in the 110-meter hurdles will be teammate Hayden Cragoe, whose best time this season is 15.53. Cragoe is also on the roster in the pole vault at the Track Classic. Cragoe is the ninth seed in the pole vault, where the entire field has cleared the bar at 13 feet or higher this spring. Top dog entering the competition is Cody’s Leighton Blanchard at 14-6 1/2. Five of the top six pole vaulters in Wyoming, according to the Track Classic seeds, come from Gillette.

KaDee Harrison could have competed in a pair of events this Friday. Harrison qualified in the 200, where she is seeded seventh in the state currently, and was bumped up from her first-alternate spot into the field of eight runners in the 400. Powell High School track coach Scott Smith noted Harrison would only run the 200 in Casper.

Harrison holds a season-best time of 26.96 in the 200, where she and the rest of the field will be looking to run down Kelly Walsh speedster Jerayah Davis. Davis set a Track Classic record last year by completing the 200 meters in a time of 24.47. She holds a season-best of 24.42 this spring and will also be chasing her own record in the 100 meters.

The final Track Classic slot for the Panthers will be taken by distance runner Drew Feller, whose time of 10:18.82 in the 3200 seeds him ninth overall in the field. Tops in the field is Kelly Walsh’s Hunter Davila, who holds a state-best time of 9:45.64.

For record watchers, the boys’ 100 and 200 meters could produce results that flirt with the 2008 times of Laramie’s Stephen Michel, who owns both marks with 10.75 in the 100 and 21.74 in the 200. In the boys’ long jump, Lyman’s Bobby Wingeleth holds a season-best distance of 23-1, better than the 1987 record of Cheyenne Central’s Jerome Price, whose leap of 22-11 3/4 has endured for more than a quarter of a century.

For Powell athletes not competing in the Track Classic, the Panthers will see competition on Friday in Thermopolis.

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