MIDDLETON – Knee troubles cast doubt on Sugar-Salem’s chances at the 2014 state track and field championships.
But it’s going to take more than a kneecap and a ligament to hold down the Diggers – who swept the 3A boys and girls state championships at Middleton High School on Saturday.
Missing standout seniors Olivia Redd and Jordan Godby on Friday and Saturday, the Diggers still pushed their way to state championships.
The girls team made it three straight with 74.5 points, 7.5 better than Payette’s runner-up total. Sugar’s boys had a tougher go of it, edging Weiser 87-85 — to the unabashed delight of Godby.
“Whether it’s the kids who are here today or even the kids who didn’t make state, if you are at practice every day, you are out there helping to push the whole team,” Godby said. “This one is not just for the guys who are here. This is a team championship. All of us.”
Godby was lost to a ligament tear during the basketball season, and Redd missed state due to a broken kneecap.
Those two injuries put Sugar-Salem coach Brett Hill in the unfamiliar position of gritting his teeth throughout Saturday’s competition – right up to the boys and girls 4x400-meter relays.
“If we had those two individuals this weekend, I would probably be sitting up (in the stands) sipping a cola and enjoying life,” Hill said. “But it was pure excitement, especially when Shelley scored 17 points in the mile and jumped to within four points of us.”
Calling her kneecap injuries one of “the toughest things” she’s ever experienced, Redd turned that frustration into motivation, mentoring freshman Shaylee Hill in the distance running arts.
When Hill crossed the finish line in second place at the end of Friday’s 3,200-meter run, Redd had her arms up, eyes closed, with tears dripping off her cheeks.
“Olivia helps her warm up, helps her manage her food — it’s been such a neat thing,” Hill said. “Olivia was in tears the whole time she was running. I think she was more excited for the race than my daughter.”
Bittersweet? Hardly. Redd had long since dispatched with the self pity and all that other nonsense.
Not bittersweet. Just sweet, like a honey Popsicle dipped in molasses.
“It was definitely hard to watch, but it’s a different aspect of the sport to watch them band together,” Redd said. “It was so weird, and so good. It means almost more to me than anything else, to know the team was running not just for me, but for everyone
In addition to Shaylee Hill’s silver in the 3,200, the Diggers got runner-up finishes in the shot put and discus from Lacey Hamilton among their top-three finishes.
Pulling serious weight on the boys side, Ryan Hawkes won the long jump, finished second in the triple jump and was third in the 100.
Teammate Connor Stoddard mined silver in the 800, adding bronze in the mile and 3,200. Jace Hymas (400) and Joe Andreason (300 hurdles) also placed third in their events.
In Godby’s words, the Diggers just went out and had fun.
“Me and Olivia are very competitive people, but the whole team had our backs, knowing we wanted to be out there with them more than anything,” he said. “Nothing limits us except ourselves, and we just try to remember that and go out there and have fun.”