Panthers take state

Posted 5/28/09

“After coming so close and losing to them at regionals, I just said I'm so tired of it,” Sullivan said, sporting a trickle of blood down one leg from where he was cut by another runner's spike during the race. “I wasn't going to …

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Panthers take state


{gallery}05_28_09/statetrack{/gallery} Members of the Powell High School boys' track team react to hearing their name announced as the 2009 state track champions on Saturday in Casper. The title was the team's third in the past four years and their fourth of the decade. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik 4x400 relay victory cinches 3A title for Powell boysThe Powell Panthers brought home the 2009 3A boys' state track title in climactic fashion Saturday afternoon. Senior Patrick Sullivan's move over the final 100 meters of the 4x400 relay anchor leg pushed the Panthers ahead of arch-rival Cody and clinched victory in the winner-take-all showdown.The result was Powell's third boys state track title in the past four years.

“After coming so close and losing to them at regionals, I just said I'm so tired of it,” Sullivan said, sporting a trickle of blood down one leg from where he was cut by another runner's spike during the race. “I wasn't going to let it happen again. I couldn't have done it without the three guys in front of me. ”

Heading into Saturday's race, the Broncs had certainly cemented their place as the nemesis of the Panthers' 4x400 foursome, which included Patrick's sophomore brother Kyle, as well as seniors Gavin Mills and Rustin Myrick. The two schools entered Casper sporting the two fastest regional times, but Powell had yet to cross the finish line ahead of the Broncs' 4x400 relay this spring.

“Before the race, we just prayed to God for the strength, because we felt like we had so much more to give,” said Mills, who celebrated the relay victory with a fence-line leap into the arms of jubilant Panther teammates, students and fans.

Panther head coach Scott Smith, on the other hand, watched the relay among the Cody contingent. The unlikely vantage point was the result of a conversation between Smith and Bronc head coach Scott Shaffer nearly two years ago.

“We'd first talked when we learned Cody would be coming down to 3A that it would be so neat if someday it came down to a race between our two schools in the final event and that it would really mean something,” Scott explained. “We'd agreed that if that ever happened, we'd sit and watch the race together. So, as the race started, I went up among the Cody camp and we watched.

“All year, that kid (Cody anchor leg runner Ethan Slight) had been able to hold Patrick off down the stretch,” Smith said. “This time, we were able to give Patrick the lead and forced their kid to make up some ground and it proved to be too much. Give Patrick credit, that was a Division I kid that he held off.”

While Saturday's relay contained the ultimate drama for Panther fans, it was far from the only excitement. Two members of Powell's 4x400 relay team also walked away with state honors in individual events.

Kyle Sullivan started Powell's parade of gold medals on Friday when he fought through a two-hour delay in the start of the high jump competition to be the only participant to successfully clear the bar at 6'2”.

Meet officials attempted to start the event on time. After the first five competitors missed on their first attempt at clearing open height and the sixth narrowly missed falling onto his back from a slip while planting for his jump, the decision was made to suspend competition in the event out of safety concerns.

“I was mad because I was ready to go,” Sullivan said of the delay, which was caused by an overnight watering that left the infield overly-saturated. “It was hard because you get psyched up to jump and then they tell you that you have to wait.”

Meet personnel eventually improvised a solution by locating several wooden boards and covering them with artificial turf to provide competitors with safe footing. When competition resumed, Sullivan was one of just nine participants — Myrick was another — to clear the opening height of 5'8”.

By the time the bar reached 6'2”, only two competitors — Sullivan and Wheatland junior Kolten Irby — were still around. Sullivan immediately put the pressure on by clearing the height on his first attempt. Irby was unable to match on any of his three tries at the height.

“I've never jumped that high in outdoor track,” Sullivan said after unsuccessfully trying to clear 6'4”. “I cleared 6'2” during the indoor season, but this was the first time I've done it in a meet outdoors.”

Myrick followed Sullivan atop the state podium on Saturday with an overpowering win in the 300-meter hurdles.

The win, which came by virtually a full second over the remainder of the field, delivered a bit of vindication after Myrick was upset earlier in the day in his bid for 110-meter hurdle gold.

“I really wanted to win after losing in the 110,” said Myrick. “I just tried to get out to a fast start in the 300. In this race, by the time you hit the corner you're going to be tired whether you start fast or slow, so I tried to pass as many kids as I could before the first hurdle and make them chase me.”

Myrick added a runner-up finish in the 110-meter hurdles as part of a 2-3-4 finish with Kyle Sullivan and Josh Cragoe. Drew MaGill kicked off the long jump with a season-best leap of 21'2” that held up throughout five more rounds for state runner-up honors. Teammate Andrew Young followed a similar script by uncorking a throw of more than 138 feet on his first discus attempt to place third. Patrick Sullivan placed third in the open 400 despite running a sub-51 second race.

On the girls' side of competition, Hannah Pollart and Kendra Ostrom set the tone for the weekend by tying for third place after clearing the bar at 4'10” in the high jump. The Panthers also got top three finishes from the boys 4x100 relay team of MaGill, Mills, Cragoe and Tanner Eden and the girls 4x400 relay squad of Kassey MacDonald, Alyssa Rodriguez, Stephanie Paul and Desiree Murray.

While missing out on a state trophy, Powell's girls had plenty to talk about in Casper as well. By noon on Friday, the Panthers had already surpassed their point total for the entire 2008 state meet.

“We had a lot of kids — girls and boys — that stepped up and had personal records for the season,” said Smith.

“Marquette McArthur threw about 10 feet past her best in the discus to get fourth. The relay teams ran well. It was a very, very good weekend.”

The Panther girls placed seventh after amassing a total of 39 points. Desiree Murray turned in a pair of top-six finishes in the 800 (fifth) and the 300-meter hurdles (sixth). The Powell girls did not suit up a senior for this year's state meet and took just two juniors as youth served the school well.