Rigby races to girls team lead in 4A track

BOISE — The applause had just barely started when Rigby High School sophomore Sierra Anderson took off running after clearing 5 feet, 4 inches to win the 4A girls high jump title Friday on the first day of the 5A/4A state track championships at Dona Larsen Park.

After high-fiving and hugging her jumps coach, she immediately headed over to the fence surrounding the track where her family had been watching. One of the first people she hugged was her mother, Rachel, who is also a member of Rigby’s coaching staff.

“My mom’s been around track forever,” Anderson said. “To be able to do this together and for my team to get the points is amazing. All the weeks, all the long hours and days of practice are paying off.”

Anderson, who took fourth in high jump at last year’s state meet, tied a personal best by clearing 5-4 for her first state title. She was also one of five Trojans girls to advance to state in high jump this weekend, sharing the podium with sisters Olivia and Hannah Shippen, who took fifth and sixth, respectively.

“Everyone jumped way close to their PRs today, which is amazing,” Anderson said.

There were plenty of celebrations to go around for the Trojans, who finished Day 1 leading the 4A girls team standings with 28.5 points to Canyon Ridge’s 26. The girls 800 sprint medley team of Eliza Shippen, Ashlyn Jones, Chayse Eames and Elsja Mecham won in 1:48.28 later in the afternoon, and Mecham won all three of her heats to advance to today’s finals. The sophomore, who won four gold medals at last year’s state championships, clocked in at 57.82 to win her 400 heat and set two 4A state records with her heat-winning times of 14.38 and 42.84 in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

Also for the Trojans, the boys 1,600 sprint medley relay team of Haydin Livingston, Paul Perry, Cameron Hansen and Mitch Hernandez ran 3:34.61 to take third.

Elsewhere in 4A, Blackfoot High School junior Rachel Cannon pulled away in lap 6 and increased her lead en route to winning the girls 3,200 title in 11:30.57. It was the first state title for Cannon, who swept the 1,600 and 3,200 titles at last week’s 4A District 5-6 championships.

“I’m not very good at gauging how far people are behind me,” Cannon said. “That was my motivating factor.”

According to Post Register digital archives, Cannon is the first Blackfoot female state track champion since Sarah Cardinal, who won discus in 2006, and the first Blackfoot female to medal at state in the 3,200 since Kim Reading took third in 2001.

“It means a lot to me because I’ve never done it before,” Cannon said. “Our school doesn’t have a lot of people who come out for track or running. The more people that do well at sate, that gets new people to go out for track.”

Another Day 1 medal went to District 6 by way of Madison High School’s Konner Stoneberg, who leaped 21-9.75 to place second in 5A boys long jump. The sophomore said the silver medal was especially sweet considering his previous state track experience.

“Last year, I scratched every time,” Stoneberg said. “I knew I had to redeem myself this year.”

The sophomore entered state with five wins and one third place in long jump from the regular season, joining a long line of recent success in field events for Madison athletes that he credited to a great coaching staff. Although he has enjoyed long jump, he said he hopes to expand his events.

“(I’ll) probably think about trying triple jump and a couple more sprinting events,” he said.

Also medaling out of District 6 on Friday was Madison’s Jon Stutz with sixth place in the 5A boys 3,200 finals, Skyline’s Nicole Spaulding with sixth place in 5A girls long jump, the Madison and Idaho Falls boys with respective fifth- and sixth-place finishes in the 5A boys 4x800, the Idaho Falls girls with sixth place in the 5A girls 4x800 and Rigby’s Preston Poulter in a five-way tie for third in 4A boys high jump.