Track reaches the home stretch

Cassidy Cook of Hillcrest pulls ahead of the pack to take the win in the hurdles at Thunder Stadium Friday afternoon. Photo By Robert Bower ( rbower@postregister.com)Post Register ,Idaho Falls, 3/23/12, {camera}, 1/250, 1000,16, 3:09:55 PM

After months of practicing and competing in everything from snow to hail to high winds, eastern Idaho track athletes head west for drier, warmer weather and the hope of medals and trophies at this weekend’s state championships.

There is no shortage of stories to follow as competition begins Friday at Dona Larsen Park (4A, 5A) and Middleton High School (1A, 2A, 3A).

Here is a closer look at storylines to follow throughout the weekend.

CLASS 5A

Several 5A athletes have a shot to make the podium.

Daniel Bruton will look to defend his 5A state high jump title and he enters Friday as the lone male athlete in Idaho to have cleared higher than 6-foot-8. Fellow field athletes Konner Stoneberg, Kimball Wightman, Bennett Roberts, JaLane Webb and Remi McWhorter will also be pursuing medals. Megan Gehmlich, Benson Manner, Jon Stutz and Mubarek Haws will all compete for the Bobcats in the distance events.

Idaho Falls features plenty of returners from last year’s state meet. The quartet of Bryce Frazee, Clayton Powell, Dakota Baker and Jacob Wright have built up impressive win streaks in both the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays and each advanced to state in their individual events as well. Kai Amos, ranked first in 5A in the 100 on athletic.net, will compete in the 100 and 200 and teammate Taylor Weatherby will compete in the 200 and 400 and will join teammates Virginia Nielsen, Niquelle Lewis and Ashlyn Dyer in the 4x800. Brayden Andrus will compete in both shot put and discus.

Leading the way for the district champion Hillcrest girls is senior Cassidy Cook, who will compete for medals in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. Freshman Paige Blakeslee will look to add to her impressive season in the 400 and 4x100 and Chelsea Johnstone will compete in both shot put and discus. Also for the Knights, the boys 4x100 and 4x200 advanced to state, Jacob Sorensen and Bridger Blakeslee will be after medals in hurdles and Derek David and Sam Schweinsberg will be competing in the 100 and 400, respectively.

Skyline sends a strong crop of field athletes to state in thrower Garret Caudle, triple jumper Jessica Jones, long jumper Nicole Spaulding and high jumpers Jada Johnson, Tilar Clark and Abby Brown. The Grizz also send their girls 4x200 team to state and Emily Oe, Aleesha Cutler and Caleb Campbell will be vying for medals in sprints.

CLASS 4A

Entering state having won a blue trophy every season since 2007, the Rigby Trojans are again in contention for at least one team title this weekend. The Trojans went 1-2 last year, taking the girls team championship and placing second in the boys ranks. Bishop Kelly will be the Trojans’ biggest competition on the girls’ side while the boys championship is anyone’s guess between Rigby, Pocatello, Minico, Twin Falls, Skyview and Bishop Kelly.

Nationally-ranked sophomore sprinter Elsja Mecham will look to add to her four gold medals from last year’s state championships by competing in both hurdles events, the 400 and the medley relay. Senior and Rigby school record holder Eliza Shippen is one of two girls pole vaulters in Idaho to have cleared at least 11 feet this season and will compete to defend her state title. She will also run on the medley and 4x100 relay teams. Sierra Anderson, Bayli Clayton, Hannah Shippen and Hailey Stone will be vying for field event medals and Stone will also compete in both hurdles events and anchor the 4x200. Sprinter Keanne Alston will be after medals in the 100 and 200 as well as the 4x100 and 4x200 and Chayse Eames will compete in the 100, 4x100, 4x200 and medley relay. District champion Tori Pinnock will lead the Trojans in the 800.

Having gone 1-2 in the 400 at last week’s districts, Cameron Hansen and Paul Perry will represent the Trojans in the 400 and in the medley and 4x400 relays. Hansen will also compete in pole vault. Noah Franz, Kayden Killpack, Chayce Campbell and Jacob Mathews lead the way for Rigby in throwing events and Diego Garcia and Preston Poulter will vie for high jump medals.

For Bonneville, seniors James Smith, Devin Henricksen and Elijah Williams will contend for medals in sprints and will team up with Brenden Tamayo in the 4x100.

Matt Peterson will compete for Blackfoot in the 100, long jump and 300-meter hurdles while teammate Rachel Cannon will be after medals in the 1,600 and 3,200.

CLASS 3A

Sugar-Salem completed District 6’s first classification sweep of state track team championships since Firth in 2004, but the task will be tougher this year. The two-time defending state champion Digger girls will be without senior distance runner Olivia Redd, who won last year’s 800, 1,600 and 3,200 titles. However, the Diggers send several athletes with state experience in multiple events. Lacey Hamilton, who was named Outstanding Female Field Athlete of her division at the BYU Invitational earlier this season, will look to add to her medal collection in both throwing events as will Hannah Crane in high jump, long jump, triple jump and the 4x100. Shaylee Hill will compete in the 1,600 and 3,200 and Indya Price will compete in the 800. Sugar-Salem sends Katelyn Hill, Ta’Lee Rose, Whitney Taylor and Lydia Garner to state in hurdles, Allie Hawkes in the 400 and Emren Fogle in the 100.

On the boys side, the Diggers send a solid crop of field athletes in Joe Andreasen, Ryan Hawkes, Nathan Gerdes, Ethan Arnold, Trason Jackson, Jordan Owens, Hayden Gerdes, Ryan Barr and Jaron Rose. Barr and Tanner Puzey will vie for hurdles medals and Connor Stoddard will compete in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Nate Fogle, Teancum Gibson and Jace Hymas will represent the Diggers in sprints.

Shelley has a shot at winning its first track trophy since 2007 after tying with Sugar-Salem for the girls district title and taking second to Sugar-Salem in the boys district standings last week. The Russets send four relay teams to state and have several athletes vying for medals in multiple events. Holly Dooley will compete in hurdles, freshman Paytin Drollinger will compete in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 and Austin Stewart will compete in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Leading Teton’s medal hopes are sprinters Elio Radovitch, Isabella Wilson and Hannah Hartshorn, the boys 4x400 and medley relay teams and 800 runner Thomas Knight.

For South Fremont,Tailie Singleton will compete in the triple jump and 200, Charles Olinger in discus and shot put, Joseph Davenport in shot put and 110 hurdles and Tristan Rawson in 300 hurdles.

CLASS 2A

Firth took second in the girls standings last year and will again vie for a team trophy with a solid mix of veterans and underclassmen. Kayla Jensen, who cleared 5-5 at districts to put her atop athletic.net’s all-classification list for Idaho female high jumpers, is a favorite and will also compete in long jump and the 4x100. Britton Bean, who has been consistently ranked in both long jump and triple jump throughout her high school career, will look to add to her state medal collection in both events as well as the 100. Dakota Leslie and McKensie Gardner will look to continue District 6’s streak of state medals in 2A distance events.

On the boys side for Firth, Jackson Thompson leads Idaho’s 2A times in the 400 and will also compete in the 100, 200 and 4x100. McKay McKinnon will also compete in the 400 and will lead Firth’s efforts in the 800. Zak Johnson, Cody Burch, Connor Burkhart, Dallan Bingham, Damon Folkman, Kyle Bowman, Brigham Thayne, Colton Clevenger and Jason Gemar will all vie for field event medals.

North Fremont took second in the boys standings last year to earn its first state track trophy, and could challenge the trophy race for both the boys and girls sides this weekend. The Huskies send a solid crop of sprinters and hurdlers to state including Josh Allen, Michael Mower, Alexa Litton, MaKenzie Martindale and defending 100 and 200 state champion Hannah Brown. McKinley Litton will look to make the podium in the 400 and 800 as will Jacob Smith in the boys 800. North Fremont also sends four relay teams to state, including the girls medley relay team which has been in the top-10 all-classification rankings all season on athletic.net.

Pole vaulter Deshka Olson, hurdlers Jeff Bennett, Ellie Garrett and Quinton Hildreth, hurdler and distance runner Billy Godfrey and throwers Tiffany Porter and Charis Tuitama will lead Salmon’s medal contentions.

For West Jefferson, Addi Newman and Porter Ricks will vie for distance event medals and Elian Lemus will compete in both girls throwing events. Jade Skidmore will represent the Panthers in the 200 and 100 hurdles and Emilee Severe will compete in the 400.

Sprinter and relay runner DeWayne Hodges leads Ririe’s medal contentions in the 100, 200 and 4x200. Senior T.J. Thacker, who cleared 13-7 to win districts last week, will vie for a podium spot in pole vault.

CLASS 1A

Behind two-time state champion sprinter Hannah Cain, pole vaulter and relay runner Kaylee Olson and hurdlers Samantha Forsgren and Melanie Weeks, Challis has a shot of taking home the girls team championship as well as several individual medals on both the girls and boys side.

Cain, who won the 400 title her freshman year and 200 title last year, is looking to sweep the 100, 200 and 400 titles this weekend and is on the medley relay team with Forsgren, Weeks and Olson. Brielle Sheppeard and Jenna Nelson will vie for field event medals with Olson.

For the Challis boys, Jace Jernberg leads the Vikings medal hopes in both hurdles event, Jack Peninger will compete in the 200 and district champion Tanner Redick will compete in the 800.

Cheyan James leads Mackay’s medal hopes in both throwing events while Sarah Thomas will compete in long jump and district champion Naylan Whitworth will compete in high jump. Tresten Eddins and Jake Mickelsen will represent Clark County in long jump and triple jump, respectively, while Butte County sends Gerrett Blattner to state in shot put, discus and the 4x100. Freshman Macy Hansen, younger sister of 2013 graduate Carly Hansen, will make her state championship debut having swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 district titles last week.

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