EAGLE--Participating in one of the few finals to take place on a revamped day one of 5A/4A state track, the 3,200-meter competitors raced in arguably the worst conditions of the day.
Temperatures hovered in the 50s and every other person gathered to watch behind the fence surrounding the track at Eagle High School when the gun went off to start the 3,200 finals Friday morning. The driving wind and rain didn’t keep down the top District 6 finishers, however.
Skyline sophomore Sariah Harrison ran alongside Twin Falls junior Mattalyn Geddes separate from the pack for seven laps Friday before Geddes pulled away to repeat as 4A girls 3,200 champion in 10:55.19. Harrison repeated as state runner-up in 10:57.11, a time she was visibly elated about after official confirmation.
It was a personal best by almost 18 seconds.
“I’m so happy,” said Harrison in the awards tent, grinning and jumping up and down a little. “I feel like that was the best race of my life. I was just trying to follow Mattie for as long as I could and I was hoping I would PR.”
Harrison said knowing the rainy forecast days in advance helped her know what to expect, especially racing in such conditions in east Idaho.
“I’ve been to meets before where I didn’t expect it to rain and it did,” Harrison said. “Our coaches prepared us really well.”
Shelley senior Karlie Callahan also ran a personal best upon placing fourth in 11:33.64, a near six-second improvement. Callahan said the race began a bit faster than she anticipated, but she gradually moved up from sixth to fourth. It was her first 4A track medal after three years of competing in 3A, including contributing to Shelley’s 3A team state championship a year ago.
While getting used to new competition was an adjustment this year, Callahan said her 4A competitors like Harrison have been welcoming and they have helped push her to reach her goals. Among those goals was breaking personal bests that had been untouched for two years.
“It’s like moving into a new neighborhood,” Callahan said of going from 3A to 4A. “It’s been a really great experience because everyone’s been so nice. And I finally got rid of my PRs from sophomore year. I’m really happy with how things turned out.”
Callahan has the 1,600 finals today to conclude her time in a Shelley uniform. The Utah State signee described her final high school state track meet as bittersweet, particularly as this weekend is also the final one at Shelley for co-head track coach Ryan Campbell. He will be working at South Fremont next year.
“I joke with Campbell that he’s coming and going with me,” Callahan said, laughing a bit despite tearing up. “He got to Shelley when I was in sixth grade. It’s been nice to have a big running family. It’s been a blessing.”
Snagging a medal for District 6 in the 5A boys 3,200 was another Utah State bound senior, Madison’s Spencer Stutz, who placed third in 9:24.60. It was not only a near 15-second personal best, but it made him Madison’s new school record holder in the event. The previous record holder? His brother, 2015 graduate Jon Stutz.
“He likes seeing his younger brothers run fast,” said the younger Stutz.
Friday added to quite the senior year for Spencer Stutz. In October, he became the 5A individual boys cross-country state runner-up. In December, he signed with Utah State. Extending his career beyond high school, he said, is what has led him to have these faster times and particularly memorable experiences in his final year as a Bobcat.
“I just really wanted to run in college,” Stutz said. “I knew I had to improve my times. I just started training and doing what I needed to do to make sure that I could (run collegiately). I’m really happy.”
Three District 6 runners claimed medals in the 4A boys 3,200. Skyline senior Dallin Hart placed third in 9:25.86, Idaho Falls senior and BYU signee Zach Erikson placed fourth in 9:32.01 and Idaho Falls sophomore Mitchell Athay was fifth in 9:32.74. The bronze medal for Hart came in a finish at the line versus Pocatello’s Dallin Bird, who took second in 9:25.67.
“He has such an amazing kick,” Hart said.
Friday was Hart’s first state track medal and first state track meet, period, as he returned to the sport this season for the first time since his freshman year. His comeback resulted in individual district titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 to send him to state in both, and he will compete for the Grizzlies one last time today in the 1,600 finals.
“It’s been super fun,” Hart said. “There’s been so much that was new to me. It’s been such a fun experience, especially being my senior year.”