PHS head coach Scott Smith expects a season’s-worth of hard work to pay off this weekend.
“I see a lot more kids earning their ticket to state,” Smith said.
The coach also hopes to see Powell perform like a team poised to challenge for state titles the following weekend in Casper.
“(Regionals) is a great indicator,” Smith said. “Not only about where we are and how we stand, but it is great practice at competing at a high level.
“I am hoping to see our kids all go out and PR in as many events as they can,” Smith said. “No matter what the team score is, if we can do that we will have had a great meet.”
Some of Powell’s most gutsy and desperate performances have come at the season’s penultimate meet.
“It determined whether they will go to state or not, get out of two more days of school or not,” Smith said. “I have seen kids dive for finishes, throwing up after races and showing sheer joy more often at regionals than at state.”
Smith would obviously like to see as many Panthers as possible qualify for state, either by finishing in the top eight or by reaching automatic qualification marks. A bigger team gives Powell a larger pool of possible point-scorers.
“The more that compete at state, the better chance we have, but it is no guarantee,” Smith said.
The coach knows from experience a team must have both quantity and quality to score highly against top competition.
“About six years ago our girls took second at regionals and (we) had 20 girls qualify for state,” Smith said. “Every one of them (set personal records) at state but they only scored nine points and took 15th.”
Every athlete will be striving to “become a regional champion or place as high as they can,” Smith said. “That way they get better seeding at state and score points for the team trying to get a regional trophy.”
Powell should have a full squad in Lander.
The coach said the team isn’t dealing with any serious injuries and will probably not rest any Panthers that are already qualified.
“We like to use this meet as our last conditioning for state if possible,” Smith said.
As of Wednesday, forecasts predict Friday and Saturday temperatures from the mid-50s to high-60s, with a chance of thunderstorms Friday afternoon.