5A district track off and running

Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com Idaho Falls senior Brayden Andrus throws 47 feet 4 inches during the third flight of the 5A District 5-6 boys shot put Thursday at Madison Jr. High School.

REXBURG — Idaho Falls High School’s Brayden Andrus is the first to say that last year’s 5A District 5-6 boys shot put title was a surprise for him.

It had come down to him and fellow thrower and football player Garret Caudle of Skyline, who was the runner-up.

Thursday’s 5A District 5-6 track championships at Madison High School proved to be a repeat in multiple ways, right down to the final round.

Wearing a Captain America shirt between throws, Andrus won his second straight district title with a mark of 47 feet, 4 inches to send him to next week’s 5A state track championships as the district’s top seed. Right behind him again was Caudle.

Despite getting the same outcome as last year’s district championships, Andrus described this year’s title as notably different.

“Garret had thrown farther than me the entire year (last year),” Andrus said. “I just busted a PR (at districts). It was unexpected. Garret has been my main competition in the last three years. This year he’s had some trouble with injury, but I think he’s getting better in time for state.”

Andrus’ personal best in shot put is 48-2, and he said he hopes to hit 50 feet next week at Dona Larsen Park in Boise. He also competes in discus, which he said he started doing more intensely this year. Although the discus finals had yet to occur, he made a prediction.

“Garret’s always been better at discus, so we’ll flip flop tomorrow,” Andrus said.

Andrus completed a bit of a tradeoff this year by taking on discus in place of high jump, which he had competed in from his freshman to junior years.

“I qualified for state in both last year,” Andrus said. “I realized that’s the best I’m gonna get.”

Andrus not only received applause for some of his biggest marks Thursday, but questions from competitors about his Captain America shirt. The senior said he likes to keep it interesting by wearing a different shirt at each track meet.

“It was the first one in my closet,” Andrus said with a laugh in regards to the shirt he paired with gold Nike shoes Thursday. “It’s just random. Last week, I wore a Smokey the Bear shirt.”

Elsewhere on Day 1, some win streaks continued while new ones started. Virginia Neilsen, Niquelle Lewis, Ashlyn Dyer and Taylor Weatherby won the 4x800 to keep the district title with Idaho Falls for the third year in a row. Moments after anchoring the 4x800 win, Weatherby won her heat of the 400 and finished her day by winning her heat of the 200.

The Madison team of Logan Garner, Benson Manner, John Cromar and Jon Stutz ended Highland’s three-year streak of district titles in the 4x800. Madison was the last District 6 team to win the 4x800 title in 2010.

Manner, Cromar and Stutz were all part of last year’s 4x800 team which set Madison’s school record of 8:10.88 in a fourth-place finish at districts. This season, however, the Bobcats qualified for state in the event and they hope to break their own school record.

“It’s something great to accomplish,” Stutz said.

Fellow Bobcat Bennett Roberts matched a personal best by clearing 12 feet to win pole vault, giving him a first district title and keeping the title at Madison for another year. Chase Wightman won the title last season.

Next week will be Roberts’ first time at state, and pole vault is the one and only track event he has done since freshman year.

“It’s always fun to fly,” Roberts said.

Highland swept the 3,200 meter finals as Presli Hutchison won her fourth consecutive district title and D’Artanan Kilgore won the boys.

The meet continues today with field events beginning at 1 p.m. and running events beginning at 5 p.m. The top four individual placers in each event and top two relay teams automatically qualify for next week’s state championships. At-large bids will be determined Sunday.