Powell leaves mark at state track


Lady Panthers senior Maddy Hanks stood just off the track near the triple jump pit at Kelly Walsh High School, hands on her knees, catching her breath. Having finished her leg of the 1600 meter relay, the realization suddenly hit that she’d just completed the final event of her high school career.

The realization hit hard.

“That’s it ... I’m done,” Hanks said. She stood in stunned silence for a few moments, then gave a sad smile. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

The 2018 Wyoming State Track Meet is now in the books, and for the Powell high school track and field teams, the event will be remembered for its bipolar weather and a pole vault event that refused to end; it was also the culmination of years of hard work for a talented group of senior athletes.

After qualifying 36 athletes for the state meet, Powell’s teams combined for 23 individual trips to the podium. The Lady Panthers were led by a pair of second-place finishes by JuliaKay O’Neill and Sabrina Shoopman and the Panthers by a third-place finish by Colby Warner. O’Neill and Shoopman earned 2018 All-State honors for their efforts.

As a team, the Lady Panthers finished sixth with 53 points; the Cody Fillies took the top spot with 108.5 points. On the boys side, the Panthers picked up 39 points and finished tied with Lander for seventh place; Star Valley took home the team trophy with 140 points.

“Our kids are young, and we’ve got a lot of them coming back,” said Powell head coach Scott Smith. “Our seniors had a pretty good experience; they brought home some medals. We’re really pretty happy with it. We set our goals to bring back team trophies, but we didn’t quite get there. But we brought a lot of medals back, and a lot of kids had some really great performances, battling through weather and postponements.”

O’Neill closed out her final high school season with a silver in the 800 meter run, posting a time of 2:19.29.

“It’s my last 800 race in high school, so I feel pretty good about it,” O’Neill said after the race. “It’s been kind of frustrating, I’ve been having a streak of seconds for the past year [runner-up finishes].”

The University of Wyoming signee earned three other medals on the weekend, taking bronze in the 400 meter dash to go along with a fourth-place and sixth place finish as part of the 1600 sprint medley and the 1600 meter relay, respectively.

Shoopman’s state meet got off to a rough start after a disqualification in the preliminary round of the 100 meter hurdles.

“She [Shoopman] hit the second hurdle, and I thought she was going to face-plant on the next one,” Smith explained. “She was off-balance, but was able to get over that next hurdle, but she put her hand on it as she went over.”

Undeterred, the sophomore went on to a second-place finish in the 300 meter hurdles, posting a time of 48.31. Shoopman also earned medals as part of the 4x100 and 1600 meter relay teams.

“The 100 hurdles has always been her [Shoopman’s] strong event,” Smith said. “For her to end up taking second and be All-State in the 300 hurdles was really nice to see.”

Panther junior Colby Warner had the highest finish on the boys side, finishing third in the high jump with a height of 6 feet.

“Colby [Warner] was way over on his jumps, but had a little timing issue,” Smith said. “He was working on a little bit of a wet runway, and was hitting them high, he just couldn’t quite get his feet back up quick enough to get to some of his best. But it was a good performance for him. In that kind of weather, we’ll take it.”

The 3A boys pole vault may go down in Wyoming State Meet history as the longest individual event on record, spanning all three days of competition due to time constraints and inclement weather.

“I’ve never seen that,” Smith said. “That’s officially the first and hopefully last I ever see a three-day pole vault.”

The event, which began Thursday afternoon and briefly resumed on Friday, finally concluded late Saturday morning after meet organizers decided to move the competition indoors. Panther sophomore Brody Karhu finished seventh with a height of 13 feet, while teammate Kaelan Groves finished eighth at 12 feet.

“Jumping indoors was actually super-cool,” Karhu said of the change in venue. “It’s quite a bit different, everything is super-close. The roof is right there, it throws you off a bit at first. But it kind of gives you something to shoot for. It was a cool experience.”

Lady Panthers

On the girls’ side, junior Caitlyn Miner made three trips to the podium, finishing eighth in the 100 meter dash, fifth in the 100 meter hurdles and eighth as part of the 4x100 meter relay team. She just missed the podium in the pole vault, finishing ninth.

Lady Panther freshman Emma Karhu medaled in a pair of events, tying for sixth with teammate Hanks in the pole vault (with a height of 9 feet) and taking seventh in the 200 meter dash with a time of 27.75.

Hanks’ final state meet ran the gamut of emotional highs and lows, as the senior qualified in four events: The pole vault, the 300 meter hurdles, the 1600 relay and the 1600 sprint medley. But after qualifying for Saturday’s 300 meter hurdle finals, Hanks false-started — the first and only false start of her track career.

“I couldn’t believe I did that,” Hanks said.

Smith said he felt for his senior, but was pleased to see her still smiling at the end of the day.

“That was a tough break on that false start; on the finals, that’s hard,” he said. “There’s a lot of points that will be hard to replace [when she graduates].”

Hanks ended the day on a high note, making one last trip to the podium with teammates Brea Terry, Shoopman and O’Neill as part of the 1600 relay team that finished sixth.

“We just went out there and gave everything we had for the final event of the day. We just worked so hard,” said Hanks, adding, “It was a good way to end my high school career.”

The 4x800 meter relay team of Sidney O’Brien, Hailee Paul, Hailee Hyde and Brea Terry earned a trip to the podium with an eighth-place finish, as did the 4x100 team of Miner, Shoopman, Aubrie Stenerson and Karlie McKenzie, also finishing eighth.

In the field events, the Lady Panthers medaled two athletes in the triple jump, led by Jaz Haney’s jump of 33 feet, 9.5 inches, earning her fourth place. Teammate Elsie Spomer was seventh with a jump of 33 feet, 3.75 inches.

“A couple of weeks ago, they [Haney and Spomer] were jumping upper 31s, low 32s,” Smith said. “For both of them to get up into the 33s, they just really came on great at the end of the year. They bought into Coach [Sean] Munger’s conditioning, and it really paid off. It was great to see.”

In discus, junior Rachel Bonander finished seventh with a throw of 105 feet, 10 inches.


For the Panthers, sophomore Jay Cox shaved 3 seconds off his personal best in the 800 meter run, finishing fifth with a time of 2:00.26. Cox ran a slower-than-normal first lap but found his kick in the second, charging up eight places for sole possession of second place before being caught by the field in the last 50 meters.

“That first lap, it’s always tricky to figure out how to pace yourself,” Cox said. “It’s definitely easier with all of those fantastic runners out there. My first lap was a lot slower than I would have like it, but I’m definitely very happy about it.”

Brody Karhu had a busy weekend on the podium, finishing seventh in the 200 meter dash, fifth in the 400 meter dash and fourth as part of the 1600 meter relay team, along with teammates Joe Rogers, Cox and Groves.

“Brody [Karhu] did a nice job; he did a little bit of everything,” Smith said. “Four medals is a pretty good performance by anybody, but especially for a sophomore.”

“I didn’t get my best, but I think I performed very well,” Karhu said of his overall weekend. “It was a great experience. Lots of people have supported us, so many people to thank. Coaches, everybody in the town of Powell — they’ve all been very supportive.”

Groves added a seventh-place finish in the 100 meter dash to go along with his eighth in the pole vault, while Alan Merritt earned a spot on the podium in the 3200 meter run, finishing eighth.

In the field events, Powell placed two in the triple jump, as sophomore Dylan Preator finished fifth with a jump of 40 feet, 3.75 inches, and teammate Dalton Woodward finished seventh at 39 feet, 10.5 inches.

“Dalton [Woodward] was a little disappointed; he didn’t quite have the energy he usually seemed to have. Dylan [Preator] was right around where he’s been all season,” Smith said. “They were going into a headwind, so that had a little to do with it, but they both jumped really well.”

Sophomore Ryan Good made the podium in both the shot put and discus, finishing fourth and seventh, respectively.

Wrapping up the season

Smith said the end of the state meet is always bittersweet, but he’s proud with his athletes for how they performed, as well as how they represented themselves and their community.

“We got compliments from the hotel, from restaurants, we even got compliments from the people that run the Gooseberry rest area on how well-mannered our kids were,” Smith said. “Those are the kind of things that make it so much fun to work with these kids.”

With their high school careers complete, Smith said this season’s seniors will be missed for their leadership — on and off the track. Those who competed at state included Brooks Asher, Kacey Creed, Tamoka Hasegawa, McKenna Hanson, AJ Lewis, Gracen Curtis, O’Neill and Hanks.

“We’re losing some quality kids,” coach Smith said, adding, “They’re all moving on and they’re all going to be really successful in their own different ways. The work ethic they showed us and the respect and the way they treat people, they’re all going to go far.”

For Hanks, who will be heading to Michigan State next fall, the experience was all about her teammates.

“I feel so blessed,” she said, as several of her teammates stopped by for quick hugs and words of encouragement. “I truly have the best teammates and coaches. It’s just a blessing to have had such a good career. I think every single one of us did our very best.”

100 Meter Dash 3A

8. Caitlyn Miner 13.09, 11. Tamoka Hasegawa 13.62

200 Meter Dash 3A

7. Emma Karhu 27.75

400 Meter Dash 3A

3. JuliaKay O’Neill 1:01.59

Girls 800 Meter Run 3A

2. JuliaKay O’Neill 2:19.29

100 Meter Hurdles 3A

5. Caitlyn Miner 17.31

300 Meter Hurdles 3A

2. Sabrina Shoopman 48.31

4x100 Meter Relay 3A

8. Caitlyn Miner, Sabrina Shoopman, Aubrie Stenerson, Karlie McKenzie 52.89          

4x400 Meter Relay 3A

6. Brea Terry, Maddy Hanks, Sabrina Shoopman, JuliaKay O’Neill 4:19.27          

4x800 Meter Relay 3A

8. Sidney O’Brien, Hailee Paul, Hailee Hyde, Brea Terry 11:14.58

1600 Sprint Medley 3A

4. Tamoka Hasegawa, Gracen Curtis, Maddy Hanks, JuliaKay O’Neill 4:35.17

Pole Vault 3A

6. Maddy Hanks 9’, 6. Emma Karhu 9’, 9. Caitlyn Miner 9’    

Long Jump 3A

12. Aubrie Stenerson 15’1.75”

Triple Jump 3A

4. Jaz Haney 33’9.5”, 7. Elsie Spomer 33’3.75”, 11. Gabri Lundberg 32’, 18. McKenna Hanson 30’1”    

Shot Put 3A

10. Cassidy Miner 34’1.5”, 11. Rachel Bonander 33”

Discus Throw 3A

7. Rachel Bonander 105’10”  

100 Meter Dash 3A

7. Kaelan Groves 11.92  

200 Meter Dash 3A

7. Brody Karhu 23.55

400 Meter Dash 3A

5. Brody Karhu 51.53, 9. Jay Cox 52.61    

800 Meter Run 3A

5. Jay Cox 2:00.26

1600 Meter Run 3A

10. Alan Merritt 4:47.64  

3200 Meter Run 3A

8. Alan Merritt 10:29.94, 13. Jayden Yates 11:08.44  

110 Meter Hurdles 3A

15. Kacey Creed 20.04

300 Meter Hurdles 3A

16. Kacey Creed 45.90    

4x400 Meter Relay 3A

4. Joe Rogers, Jay Cox, Kaelan Groves, Brody Karhu 3:35.11                

4x800 Meter Relay 3A

9. Alan Merritt, Joey Hernandez, Tyler Pfeifer, Jay Cox 9:05.73                    

High Jump 3A

3. Colby Warner 6’    

Long Jump 3A

11. Dylan Preator 19’8”, 14. AJ Lewis 18’10.25”

Pole Vault 3A

7. Brody Karhu 13’, 8. Kaelan Groves 12’, 16. Reece Hackenberg 11’

Triple Jump 3A

5. Dylan Preator 40’3.75”, 7. Dalton Woodward 39’10.5”  

Shot Put 3A

4. Ryan Good 45’8”  

Discus Throw 3A

7. Ryan Good 130’

1. Cody High School 108.50, 2. Riverton High School 80, 2. Star Valley High School 80, 4. Douglas High School 59, 5. Lyman High School 57.50, 6. Powell High School 53, 7. Mountain View High School 48, 8. Lander Valley High School 47, 9. Pinedale High School 45, 10. Rawlins High School 38, 11. Buffalo High School 30, 12. Newcastle High School 26, 13. Torrington High School 11, 14. Worland High School 7, 15. Thermopolis High School 6.50, 16. Wheatland High School 4.50

1. Star Valley High School 140, 2. Mountain View High School 83, 3. Cody High School 71, 4. Buffalo High School 66, 5. Riverton High School 57, 6. Torrington High School 48, 7. Lander Valley High School 39, 7. Powell High School 39, 9. Worland High School 36, 10. Douglas High School 30, 11. Newcastle High School 25, 12. Wheatland High School 24, 13. Lyman High School 19, 14. Pinedale High School 11, 15. Rawlins High School 6, 16. Thermopolis High School 4

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