In the boys’ shot put and the girls’ discus, the Panthers produced both the state champion and the state runner-up.
“It was a great weekend for us,” said Panther head coach Scott Smith. “We had some events that didn’t go the way we wanted them to, but then we had a lot of kids who really stepped up to compete for us. Overall, we had an outstanding meet.”
Nobody had a better meet than Panther junior Garrett Lynch, who produced state titles in both the shot put and the discus for Powell. Not only that, but Lynch’s winning distances — 53-9 1/2 in the shot put and 174-7 in the discus — were the best produced among all four of Wyoming’s competition classes for sports, earning him the Best of the Best awards in both events.
His throw of 174-7 in the discus was also a record for Powell High School, adding more than six additional feet to a record that Lynch first set as a sophomore and has gradually added to throughout his career.
“I knew he could go over 170 (feet) here if he threw like he was capable,” said Panther throws coach Nevin Jacobs.
The discus state title for Lynch was the second of his prep career. He claimed the 2012 title with a throw of 168 feet. The win in the shot put came over Panther teammate Vince Sleep, who was second with a distance of 52-7. Sleep was also fourth in the discus.
Also having a good weekend inside the throwing ring was junior Tori Sleep. Sleep injected some drama in the finals of the girls’ discus by unleashing a throw of 126-11 on her sixth and final throw of the competition, leapfrogging her past defending state champ Kiara Skinner of Cody and teammate Shawnea Harrington, who had led the competition with a throw of 126 feet since the preliminary rounds.
Sleep was forced to endure a few nervous moments as Skinner and Harrington both took their final throws of the competition. Once it became official that neither had surpassed her distance, the disbelief set in.
“How did that happen?” Sleep asked incredulously, amid hugs from her parents and coaches.
Harrington held on to second place in the standings, giving the Panthers a 1-2 finish in the event.
“The two of them really stepped up,” said Jacobs of the Thursday discus performance. “Tori had an excellent series of throws.”
Sleep added to her medal stash the following day by picking up a state runner-up medal in the shot put. Her throw of 37-10 was second in the class behind Cody’s Skinner.
Sleep’s feat of a state title and a state runner-up award was matched by Panther sophomore Kalei Smith. Smith, on the advice of the Panthers’ coaching staff, made the decision to withdraw from the 300-meter hurdle prelims after reaching the final four of the 3A high jump competition. Smith’s preliminary heat of the 300m hurdles, widely held to be one of the most draining track events, would have run concurrent with the tail end of the high jump competition. The strategy cost the sophomore a possible finals appearance in the hurdle race, but kept his legs fresh for the remainder of the high jump competition.
Smith was not the only member of the high jump’s final four to make such a decision. The move paid off when Smith was able to clear the bar at 6-2 on his second attempt, elevating him into the top three. The sophomore narrowly missed on his second and third attempts to clear the bar at 6-4, eventually finishing as the state runner-up based on misses at lower heights.
“They (the coaches) told me to just stay in the high jump if I was doing well here,” Smith said of the decision to forego his opportunity to run in the 300-meter hurdles.
Smith had his chance to run in the hurdles the following day as he took to the track for the 110-meter finals and made the most of it. The Panthers’ sophomore got out to a strong start and held off pre-race favorite Ty Etchemendy of Douglas by a quarter of a second to secure the Panthers’ fourth state championship of the 2013 state meet.
The Panthers also picked up state runner-up performances from freshman Anissa Warner and junior Hayden Cragoe.
Warner made her debut in the state meet count on Thursday as she finished second in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5 feet and taking three strong attempts at 5-2. That performance left her chasing only Lyman super-sophomore Ann Wingeleth. Wingeleth missed on a trio of chances to set a new state 3A record at 5-8, but still won the event by clearing the bar at 5-6.
Wingeleth later set 3A records in both the long and triple jumps, events where Warner placed fifth and seventh, respectively.
Cragoe also got the Panthers’ appearance in Casper off to a fast start on Thursday. Cragoe was one of the last two standing in the boys’ pole vault competition before being stymied at three attempts at 14 feet. Teammate Brendon Phister placed fourth in the pole vault while Cragoe would go on to a sixth-place performance in the triple jump in Casper.
Other Panthers earning spots on the medal podium over the weekend included Mat Abraham (fifth in the 400), Danna Hanks (fifth in the 100-meter hurdles), KaDee Harrison (third in the 400 and fourth in the 200), Garrett Michael (sixth in the discus), Gretchen Moretti (seventh in the 3200) and Riley Stringer (fifth in the shot put).
In the team race, the Panther girls jumped to second in the standings early on and maintained their status as the nearest pursuer to Cody, which won its sixth consecutive girls’ state track title over the weekend. The Panthers were caught on the final day of competition by Star Valley, which scored big points in Saturday’s sprint finals, but were a lock for the third-place award long before the final races of the meet were run.
The Panther boys, on the other hand, were in a dogfight throughout the meet. At the midday lunch break, the 3A standings showed four teams within half a point of each other as Powell, Cody, Douglas and Jackson jockeyed for dominance with Star Valley also lurking in the background.
As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent the Panthers weren’t going to have the points needed to challenge for the top spot in the standings, but that didn’t prevent the usual late-meet drama Panther fans have become accustomed to from resurfacing. As Powell lined up for its final race, the boys’ 4x400 relay finals, the Panthers knew exactly where they stood.
“We had to finish ahead of Star Valley in order to win a team award,” said Coach Smith.
That task was complicated somewhat by the fact the Panthers and Braves were competing in different sections of the relay finals, meaning the teams’ runners would not be on the track at the same time to know how each other stood in the race. Powell had the advantage, running in the second, and faster, section of the finals.
Still, the foursome of Mat Abraham, Blaise Gann, Marshall McArthur and Brendon Phister were pressed to the wall when Star Valley crossed the finish line at the front of the first relay section in a time of 3:33.04 — nearly a full second faster than the Panthers’ foursome had posted at regionals the previous week. Capitalizing on the faster pace of the second heat, however, the Panthers were able to lop more than a second off their regional time, completing four circuits of the track in 3:32.37.
“There’s always something on the line it seems for that final race,” said Smith. “They went out and ran a strong race for us and we’re able to go home with a trophy. We had some little things that didn’t go our way this weekend — a couple guys missed out on finals by hundredths of a second, Brendon getting tripped up in the hurdles, but those things happen. All in all, the guys went out and competed well.”
On the girls’ side, the Panthers’ head coach was excited by the performance of his team.
“The girls had a tremendous meet,” said Smith. “We had some people who really stepped up for us. Tori had a great meet, Anissa did well as a freshman. KaDee Harrison had a good weekend. And the really great thing there is that we were able to place where we did without a senior competing. If we continue to work and improve, we could be a tough team here next year. Cody will always be tough, but we could have a chance to compete next year.”
How they fared
An athlete-by-athlete look at how the members of the Powell High School track and field team fared during 2013 state competition:
Mat Abraham — 400: 53.06 in prelims, 52.84 in finals, placed fifth.
Zander Andreasen — 1600: 4:49.68, placed 12th. 3200: 10:33.09, placed ninth.
Jakob Bowers — 100: 11.90 in prelims, placed ninth.
Lex Brady — Shot put: 33-2 3/4, placed 10th. Discus: 90-10, placed 15th.
Lexee Craig — Pole vault: 8-6, placed ninth. Long jump: 13-1 1/4, placed 16th.
Hayden Cragoe — 110m hurdles: 16.16 in prelims, placed ninth. Pole vault: 13-6, finished as the 3A state runner-up. Long jump: 19-1 1/2, placed 12th. Triple jump: 41-3 1/2, placed sixth.
Drew Feller — 3200: 10:46.36, placed 1th.
Danna Hanks — 100m hurdles: 16.57 in prelims, 16.76 in finals, placed fifth. 300m hurdles: 50.07 in prelims, placed 10th.
Shawnea Harrington — Shot put: 36-4 1/4, placed sixth. Discus: 126-0, 3A state runner-up.
KaDee Harrison — 200: 26.22 in prelims, 26.20 in finals, placed fourth. 400: 1:01.3 in prelims, 1:00.92 in finals, placed third.
Brooke Lensegrav — 400: 1:03.57 in prelims, 1:03.37 in finals, placed eighth.
Garrett Lynch — Shot put: 53-9 1/2, 3A state champion. Discus: 174-7, 3A state champion.
Marshall McArthur — 400: 54.93 in prelims, placed 14th.
Garrett Michael — Shot put: 47-5 3/4, placed sixth. Discus: 132-9, placed 11th.
Gretchen Moretti — 1600: 5:51.77 in finals, placed 10th. 3200: 12:49.92, placed seventh.
Brendon Phister — 300m hurdles: 47.34 in prelims, placed 14th. Pole vault: 13-0, placed fourth.
Bailey Sanders — 800: 2:31.69 in finals, placed 13th.
Tori Sleep — Shot put: 37-10, 3A state runner-up. Discus: 126-11, 3A state champion.
Vince Sleep — Shot put: 52-7, finished as the state runner-up. Discus: 148-7, placed fourth.
Kalei Smith — 110m hurdles: 15.61 in prelims, 15.47 in finals, 3A state champion. High jump: 6-2, finished as the state runner-up. Long jump: 19-11 1/4, placed eighth.
Riley Stringer — Shot put: 48-1 3/4, placed fifth. Discus: 130-4, placed 14th.
Jada Swires — Triple jump: No distance.
Anissa Warner — High jump: 5-0, 3A state runner-up. Long jump: 15-10 1/2, placed fifth. Triple jump: 33-5 3/4, placed seventh.
Matt Widdicombe — Pole vault: 11-6, placed 10th.
Boys 4x100 relay — Ryan Ferro, Blaise Gann, Ty Herd, Jakob Bowers 46.17, placed eighth.
Boys 4x400 relay — Mat Abraham, Blaise Gann, Marshall McArthur, Brendon Phister 3:32.37, placed third.
Boys 4x800 relay — Mat Abraham, Zander Andreasen, Drew Feller, Marshall McArthur 8:35.66, placed sixth.
Girls 4x100 relay — Danna Hanks, KaDee Harrison, Brooke Lensegrav, SarahJean O’Neill 52.17, placed fourth.
Girls 4x400 relay — KaDee Harrison, SarahJean O’Neill, Brooke Lensegrav, Bailey Sanders 4:16.95, placed fourth.
Girls 4x800 relay — Sierra Morrow, Breanna Donarski, Bailey Sanders, Gretchen Moretti 11:04.41, placed seventh.
Boys’ team scores — Douglas 104.5, Jackson Hole 99, Cody 93.5, Powell 89, Star Valley 86, Buffalo 55.5, Lyman 31, Newcastle 20, Lander 20, Mountain View 13, Glenrock 11, Torrington 10, Worland 9, Wheatland 8.5, Rawlins 7, Pinedale 6.
Girls’ team scores — Cody 131, Star Valley 97, Powell 73, Torrington 61, Worland 54, Lyman 46, Jackson 39, Douglas 37, Newcastle 28, Mountain View 24, Buffalo 23, Rawlins 15, Wheatland 13, Glenrock 12, Pinedale 6, Lander 5.