PHS tracksters bring home the hardware

Lady Panthers second, Panthers third at state

Posted 5/21/19

Hands on his knees, trying to get enough wind to speak, Jay Cox could hardly believe what he had just accomplished.

It was Friday morning at the 3A Track and Field Championships in Casper, …

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PHS tracksters bring home the hardware

Lady Panthers second, Panthers third at state


Hands on his knees, trying to get enough wind to speak, Jay Cox could hardly believe what he had just accomplished.

It was Friday morning at the 3A Track and Field Championships in Casper, immediately following the 800 meter finals. Cox, a middle distance runner for the Powell High School Panthers, had just won the event in a blistering time of 1:59.68 — a full three seconds faster than his closest competitor.

“I feel amazing,” Cox said when he finally caught his breath. “Every lap I’ve ever ran, every 400 interval, this is what I do it for. It’s finally paid off.”

And that was just the start. In a state meet that saw the Powell High School track and field teams combine for six state championships, Cox played a role in four of them. Along with the 800, the junior won the 400 meter dash (in 49.58 seconds) and ran a leg in the gold medal-winning 4x400 relay (3:31.49) team with Dylan Preator, Aidan Jacobsen and Brody Karhu, and  a leg in the 4x800 relay, with teammates Alan Merritt, Jayden Yates and Jacobsen. Cox’s times in the 400 and 800 meters earned him Best of the Best distinction, given to those athletes whose times top all classes.

PHS head coach Scott Smith was particularly impressed with Cox’s 400 meters, where he overcame a roughly 20-yard deficit in the last 100 meters to beat Buffalo’s Cody Milmine.

“Jay [Cox] just kicked it in and passed him up there at the end,” Smith said, calling it a “fantastic” meet for Cox.

“All the kids did really, really well to be honest,” the PHS coach said. “This weekend was a lot of fun.”

As a team, the Powell girls took second place in Class 3A, behind Douglas, while the boys took third, behind Mountain View and Buffalo.

Junior Dylan Preator not only won the triple jump, but broke the school record with his leap of 44 feet, 5.75 inches. Mountain View’s Mason Ozuna had taken the lead with his second attempt, but Preator wound up besting Ozuna by 5 inches with his final jump.

“That was something special,” Smith said of Preator’s feat. “The kid from Mountain View [Ozuna] was the huge favorite to win, and took the lead on his next-to-last jump. The final jump of the competition and Dylan [Preator] pops off a big jump to win it and break the school record.”

Meanwhile, the Lady Panther team of Jayden Asher, Jaz Haney, Emma Karhu and Caitlyn Miner came out of nowhere to win the 4x100 relay with a time of 52.31 — less than a 10th of a second ahead of the team from Lovell. It was a fitting end to the careers of seniors Miner and Haney.

Going into the event, Miner said the team was just hoping to make the podium.

“It felt really good, especially since we thought we might take sixth,” she said. “But we got first place, and that was awesome.”

Haney agreed.

“It was super-exciting for me, because I’ve never ran a relay before at state,” she said. “It just feels incredible.”

Smith and his assistants put the girls’ 4x100 relay team together the week before regionals.

“I was sure we’d get some points,” he said, “but they ran fantastic.”

Sabrina Shoopman won gold in the 300 hurdles, running “lights out,” according to Smith. She posted a time of 47:06; her teammate Emma Karhu took third in the event. Shoopman was another athlete who had some stiff competition, most notably McKinley Bradshaw from Lyman. An all-around athlete, Bradshaw won state in the high jump and discus, and had her heart set on adding the 300 hurdles to her state resume.

“She [Shoopman] ran with no mistakes, just smooth all the way through,” Smith said. Bradshaw “really got after it, she really came out fast,” Smith said. “Sabrina [Shoopman] had to get after her and got her at the end.”


Lady Panthers

The Lady Panthers had solid performances throughout the weekend, with medalists in just about every event they qualified in.

“We had a lot of kids who placed higher at state than they did in regionals, and that’s something you always like to see,” Smith said. “That’s the sign of a good meet.”

Freshman sprinter Jenna Hillman capped off her first-ever state meet by earning All-State honors in the 400 meters, finishing second with a time of 1:00.71. She also placed third in the 200 meters and fourth in the 100 meters.

“Jenna Hillman had a fantastic meet for anybody, let alone a freshman,” Smith said. “She was the eighth seed in the 100 and took fourth, and making All-State in the 400, that’s pretty good duty.”

Senior Gabri Lundberg, coming off an outstanding performance at the regional meet in the high jump, won bronze in the event in Casper with a height of 4 feet, 10 inches.

“All year, Gabri [Lundberg] was kinda stuck at 4’6” and then hit 4’10” at regionals,” Smith said. “She makes 4’10” on her first attempt at state, and took third against two athletes that are a couple of the best athletes in the state. For Gabri to take third in that group was really impressive.”

Emma Karhu notched a pair of bronze medals to go along with the gold she won in the 4x100 relay. The sophomore was third in the pole vault with a personal best height of 10 feet, and she took third in the 300 hurdles. Teammate Maddie Hackenberg also PR’d in the pole vault with a height of 9 feet to finish 11th.

In the field events, Cassidy Miner and Rachel Bonander made the podium in the shot put and discus. Miner was fifth in the shot and sixth in the discus, while Bonander ended her high school career with a fourth in the discus and eighth in shot.

“Rachel [Bonander] at the end of the year really came on; she was very consistent,” Smith said. “For them [Bonander and Miner] to place in both events, they threw really, really well.”

The Lady Panthers’ 4x400 relay team of Abigail Urbach, Miner, Shoopman and Hillman placed fourth with a time of 4:23.45.



On the boys’ side, Brody Karhu, a gold medalist in the 4x400 relay, earned All-State honors in the pole vault, taking silver with a height of 13 feet, 6 inches. The junior also placed fourth in the 400 meters and sixth in the 200 meters.

Senior distance runner Alan Merritt capped off his senior season with a third-place finish in the 3200 meters; he also made the podium in the 1600 meters, finishing eighth. Fellow senior Jayden Yates was seventh in the 3200 meters and eighth in the 800 meters. Both runners won gold in the 4x800 relay.

“Boy, it was nice to see those guys [Merritt and Yates] go out as seniors with a state championship,” Smith said. “We really wanted to see those guys go out like that. Both have worked so hard. That was really special for all of the coaching staff.”

Senior Kaelan Groves medaled in two events, including a sixth-place finish in the 100 meters and a seventh-place finish in the 200 meters. He also ran a leg of the 4x100 relay with teammates Kadden Abraham, Riley Bennett and Landon Lengfelder, helping the group to a fifth-place finish. Groves may have been in position to medal in the pole vault, but because of a late start, the event had to be stopped temporarily so athletes could participate in the relays.

“I felt bad for Kaelan [Groves]. He was vaulting real well, then had to go run the relay,” Smith said. “When he came back to finish the vault, he just couldn’t put it back together. But he placed sixth in a 100 that was loaded with some really talented kids, and his seventh in the 200 was a big step up for him.”

In the field events, Dalton Woodward placed seventh in the triple jump, while throwers Ryan Good and Zeke Frankenberry finished third and eighth in the discus, respectively.

“It was just a fun meet all around,” Smith said. “The kids did great, and all the hard work paid off.”

The PHS track and field teams will conclude their seasons tonight (Tuesday) with their awards night, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the PHS Commons.


2019 3A State Track and Field Championships Results


Girls Results

Girls Team Scores

1. Douglas 94.5, 2. Powell 85, 3. Pinedale 73, 4. Lyman 64, 5. Lander 58, 6. Rawlins 46, 7. Buffalo 39, 7. Mountain View 39, 9. Worland 35, 10. Big Piney 33, 11. Lovell 32, 12. Burns 31, 13. Torrington 27, 14. Wheatland 23.5, 15. Thermopolis 21

100 Meter Dash

4. Jenna Hillman 13.41

200 Meter Dash

3. Jenna Hillman 27.33

400 Meter Dash

2. Jenna Hillman 1:00.71, 4. Sabrina Shoopman 1:02.32

100 Meter Hurdles

4. Sabrina Shoopman 16.81

300 Meter Hurdles

1. Sabrina Shoopman 47.06, 3. Emma Karhu 47.34

4x100 Relay

1. Jayden Asher, Jaz Haney, Emma Karhu, Caitlyn Miner 52.31

4x400 Relay

4. Abigail Urbach, Caitlyn Miner, Sabrina Shoopman, Jenna Hillman 4:23.45

4x800 Relay

9.  Sidney O’Brien, Jenna Merritt, Hailee Paul, Hailee Hyde 11:39.16                

High Jump

3. Gabri Lundberg 4’10”, 13. Hailee Hyde 4’6”

Pole Vault

3. Emma Karhu 10’, 11. Maddie Hackenberg 9’

Long Jump

14. Maddie Hackenberg 14’

Shot Put

5. Cassidy Miner 34’2”, 8. Rachel Bonander 31’11.5”

Discus Throw

4. Rachel Bonander 117’7”, 6. Cassidy Miner 105’7”


Boys Results

Boys Team Scores

1. Mountain View 129, 2. Buffalo 102,
3. Powell 98, 4. Lander Valley 79, 5. Lovell 76, 6. Douglas  43.50, 7. Torrington 41. 8. Rawlins 33,  9. Burns 31, 10. Wheatland 17.50, 11. Pinedale 14, 12. Lyman 12, 13. Thermopolis 9, 14. Worland 8, 15. Newcastle 5, 16. Big Piney 4  

100 Meter Dash

6. Kaelan Groves 11.95

200 Meter Dash

5. Brody Karhu 23.45, 7. Kaelan Groves 24.09

400 Meter Dash

1. Jay Cox 49.58, 5. Brody Karhu 51.59, 9. Aidan Jacobsen 53.89, 13. Cole Frank 54.78

800 Meter Run

1. Jay Cox 1:59.68, 8 Jayden Yates 2:07.45

1600 Meter Run

8. Alan Merritt 4:48.28, 10. Jayden Yates 4:51.83

3200 Meter Run

3. Alan Merritt 10:26.95, 7. Jayden Yates 10:33.72, 16. Joey Hernandez 11:09.41

110 Meter Hurdles

8. Dylan Preator 16.78, 11. Kadden Abraham 17.82

300 Meter Hurdles

6. Dylan Preator 43.27, 9. Kadden Abraham 42.72

4x100 Meter Relay

5. Kadden Abraham, Riley Bennett,  Landon Lengfelder, Kaelan Groves 45.84

4x400 Relay

1. Dylan Preator, Jay Cox, Aidan Jacobsen, Brody Karhu 3:31.49    

4x800 Relay

1. Jayden Yates, Jay Cox, Aidan Jacobsen, Alan Merritt 8:25.83

Pole Vault

2. Brody Karhu 13’6”, 12. Reed Smith, 11’6”, 12. Kaelan Groves 11’6”

Triple Jump

1. Dylan Preator 44’5.75”, 7. Dalton Woodward 40’10.5”

Shot Put

12. Zeke Frankenberry 41’7.5”, 15. Ryan Good 38’3”

Discus Throw

3. Ryan Good 152’3”, 8. Zeke Frankenberry 127’5”