Printed on: May 16, 2013

Chase is on for state track titles

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Every practice and competition since March has led up to this weekend's high school state track and field championships.

The storylines for District 6 athletes are plentiful as competition begins Friday at Eagle and Middleton high schools. Numerous outgoing seniors and underclassmen alike are seeking their first career individual state championships, while others are looking to defend their titles and perhaps break a school or state record in the process.

This weekend also brings the possibility of at least one District 6 school sweeping a classification's team titles, something that hasn't been achieved since Firth won the 2A boys and girls championships in 2004.

Here is a closer look at area athletes and stories to follow this weekend.

CLASS 5A

Idaho Falls has made a statement all year with its crop of sprinters and relay teams. Among those returning to state are Bryce Frazee, Kai Amos and Micaila Minnix in the 100 and 200 meters, Jacob Wright in the 200 and 400, the girls 4x100 and 4x800 relay teams, and the boys 4x200 relay team.

Among those competing for Hillcrest this weekend are the boys 4x800, high jumper Andrew Austin, sprinter Makell Skidmore and hurdlers Cassidy Cook and Kyler Howell.

District 6 will also be well-represented in throwing events as I.F.'s Shelby Jordan and Skyline's Macy Dye both return to state. Numerous District 6 athletes could make the medal stand in jumping events as the top two 5A girls high jumpers in Idaho, Madison's Aleena Kugath and I.F.'s Katelyn Zabriskie, return to state, as does Madison high jumper and long jumper Daniel Bruton and Madison long jumper and triple jumper JaLane Webb. In pole vault, Madison's Chase Wightman leads Idaho's 5A rankings and will be joined at state with teammates Ben Hansen and Clayton Cook and Skyline's Cooper Vinson.

CLASS 4A

After consistent top team finishes throughout the season and a dominating sweep of last week's 4A District 5-6 titles, Rigby returns to state with the potential to sweep 4A. The Trojans have won six 4A state titles under coach James Parrish -- three girls and three boys -- and will again face steep competition from Bishop Kelly, Columbia, Jerome, Twin Falls and Pocatello.

The Trojans feature deep talent across the board. Tanner Jones and Eliza Shippen lead Idaho's 4A state rankings in pole vault and won district titles last week. JonRyheem Peoples and teammate Austin Harper will contend for the podium in shot put and discus. In running events, freshman Elsja Mecham has turned in Idaho's fastest 4A times in the 200, 400 and 100 hurdles, while fellow freshman Tori Pinnock won two of three distance event district titles last week. Several 1-2 finishes are possible for the Trojans girls as hurdlers Kayla Adams and Hailey Stone and sprinters Kelsie Blanchard and Keanne Alston also advance to state.

Rigby also sends all eight relay teams to state, including its girls 4x400 team, which is riding eight straight wins.

Bonneville sends three girls, four boys and three relay teams to state in an upstart year that has featured numerous top-three event finishes for the program at large meets. Among them are Kendra Brown, who enters state as district champion in the 800, and teammate Tyler Holenbeck, who cleared 12 feet, 6 inches for second place in pole vault at districts.

CLASS 3A

Sugar-Salem swept the 3A District 6 team titles last week in Shelley and is in good position to repeat as 3A girls state champs with several returning athletes like defending state high jump champion senior Nieka Gutenberger and junior distance runner Olivia Redd.

Shelley freshman Austin Stewart will contend for the podium in the distance events, having won the 1,600 and 3,200 district titles. Senior Deidre Wilson enters this weekend as a two-time district champion in shot put and discus.

South Fremont sends defending state champions to Middleton in its girls 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. Sprinters Megan Galloway and Charly Hirschi won district titles in the 100 and 200, respectively, and will look to add to last year's state medals.

Snake River senior distance runner James Withers returns to state in good position to repeat as state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200. Joining him at state in those events from eastern Idaho are Stewart, Sugar-Salem's Connor Stoddard and Teton's Caleb Moosman.

CLASS 2A

Firth swept last week's district titles and should contend for a state team trophy this weekend. Although defending 2A boys state champion Kamiah has moved to 1A, the Cougars will continue to face tough competition for both team standings from Nampa Christian and West Side.

Since 1999, at least one District 6 girl has finished in the top six or better in a distance event at the 2A state track championships. Firth's McKensie Gardner, West Jefferson's Emilee Severe and North Fremont's McKinley Litton have the opportunity to continue the District 6 streak this weekend.

Salmon senior Emily Taylor and West Jefferson senior Alli Ivie, both record-holders for discus at their respective programs, have consistently been ranked in the state's top 10 in 2A for girls throwing events all season, and they enter this weekend ranked 1-2 in both. Taylor and Ivie also went 1-2 in both throwing events at last week's 2A District 6 championships.

Firth's Britton Bean will look to defend her state title in the triple jump and make the podium in the long jump, while teammate Mitch Orme is a medal contender in the 100, 200 and the high jump.

North Fremont's Hannah Brown is a repeat District 6 champion in the 100, 200 and 400. Teammate Nathan Toenjes was district champion in the 200 and 400 and is the top-ranked 2A male runner in both.

Ririe senior Tasha Huff, junior Madeline Connaughton and sophomore Brooke Griffith were on last year's state championship girls 4x200 team and will look to defend their title with freshman teammate Savanna Gamett. The Bulldogs will also contend in the girls 4x100 and boys 4x100.

CLASS 1A

Two years ago, Challis repeated as 1A boys state champions. The Vikings girls have the opportunity to accomplish the same feat this weekend. A 1A sweep is also not out of the question, as Challis soundly swept the 1A District 5-6 team titles last week.

One of Challis' top medal contenders is sophomore Hannah Cain, who took first in the 400 and second in the 100 and 200 last year while competing through illness. Senior Cody Lind is also a medal contender, having swept the district distance events last week.

After three years of taking top-five finishes in a loaded 2A distance field against the likes of West Jefferson's Tylee Newman and North Fremont's Jocelyn Allen -- both of whom are now college runners -- Butte County seniors and Idaho State-bound Korbin Traughber and Carly Hansen have the opportunity to win their first individual state championships this weekend at the 1A meet. Teammate and College of Idaho signee Jessica Bates will look to add a pair of 1A state championships to her career accolades. She won discus and shot put at last year's 2A championships and is one of five female throwers in Idaho for any classification to surpass 40 feet in the shot put this season.

Mackay senior Bailey Woodbury enters state as defending long jump champion and will also compete in the 100, 200 and 400. Clark County's Tucker Farr advances to his second consecutive state meet, this time as district champion in discus and shot put.