Howling winds of 30-plus mile per hour gusts would not deny Idaho Falls High School’s Zach Erikson at the final Tiger-Grizz Invitational of his career.
The senior and BYU signee was part of an epic finish to the boys 3,200-meter finals to begin the 46th annual meet Friday afternoon at Ravsten Stadium. Neck and neck with Star Valley (Wyo.) runner Peter Visser in the final 100, Erikson dove across the finish line. He scraped his left forearm and the back of his left shoulder in the process, but was later ruled the winner upon checking the camera: 9:40.22 to 9:40.24.
It was the first Tiger-Grizz individual win of his career, and he described it as especially memorable.
“I was hoping to be a bit more graceful,” Erikson said of his dive, laughing. “I could tell I was getting beat in that last little bit and I thought diving might work. I think it was well worth it.”
Erikson expressed much respect for fellow medalists Visser as well as third-place finisher Dallin Hart, a Skyline senior who is competing in track for the first time since his freshman year. Hart moved into the lead by lap two, taking the brunt of the wind. He held that lead through six laps before Visser and Erikson started closing in on him, and the race was up for grabs in the final 200 meters.
“I was not expecting Dallin to do that,” Erikson said. “Props to him. That takes guts.”
Erikson added another layer to his memorable final Tiger-Grizz in the final event of the evening, the 4x800-meter relay. He teamed up with fellow I.F. cross-country runners Zac Bright, Joseph Ereaux and Mitchell Athay--all three of whom are sophomores--with ambitions of breaking their school record time of 8:10.29. Erikson anchored the Tigers in the race in which they never lost the lead, bringing home the win in 8:08.90. The time not only broke the school record, but the Tiger-Grizz record of 8:11.04 set by Madison in 2015.
In the girls 4x800, the Rigby quartet of Rainey Gallup, Allison Johnson, Makenna Bird and Hailey Phillips took down their school record with a winning time of 10:06.76. Rigby head coach James Parrish said the event is still fairly new to the Trojans, who moved from 4A to 5A during the 2016-17 school year and thus made the switch from the medley relays to the 4x800.
Improving on his Rigby school record Friday was senior Nathan Franz, who won the varsity boys shot put title with a mark of 61 feet, 10 inches. The Utah State signee applauded enthusiastically after hearing the mark, which bettered his previous personal best and school record mark of 60-3.75 which won him gold a week ago at the YMCA Invitational in Meridian.
“It felt good,” Franz said. “I always tend to do well at Tiger-Grizz.”
A year ago, Tiger-Grizz was Franz’s first meet of the outdoor track season due to a foot injury. He injured the same bone in the same foot twice, worked his way back to receive and accept a scholarship offer from Utah State and now is currently undefeated and No. 1 in Idaho’s all-classification boys shot put athletic.net rankings.
“I’m shooting for 65 this year,” Franz said. “The (overall) state meet record is 64-9. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
In the other throwing ring Friday, Idaho Falls junior Vanessa Delgadillo accomplished two of her goals in one meet. She entered her home meet with ambitions of getting a medal in the discus as well as a mark of 126 feet. She not only matched that mark exactly, but claimed a gold medal in the process and improved on her previous personal best by almost five feet.
“This is the best feeling ever,” Delgadillo said. “It is one to remember.”
All of Friday’s throwing competitors had to throw into the wind, which came from the south. Delgadillo said socializing and joking with her fellow throwers--including doing jumping jacks with Rigby’s Mateya Mobley and Skyline’s Bri Molina--helped ease the pressure of competition as well as following the advice of her coach regarding the gusty conditions.
“My coach told me to wait it out, and that’s what I did,” Delgadillo said.
Joining Delgadillo and Erikson by claiming a career first Tiger-Grizz individual gold on Friday was Skyline sophomore Sariah Harrison, who won the girls 3,200 in 11:32.53. It was the first race of the day, taking place during particularly strong winds which whipped the ribbons surrounding the infield and the signs attached to the bell used for the bell lap.
“There was a different intensity in each lap,” Harrison said. “Those middle laps, that’s the hardest part of the race anyway, but holy cow. It was intense.”
Harrison said she always hopes for a personal best time when she races, but Friday’s weather forecast prompted a different approach.
“I was actually talking about that with my dad last night about how I was struggling to get motivated for this race,” Harrison said. “I was sort of hoping for 11:20s, 11:30s. I’m really glad I was able to push through and have no regrets.”
Hillcrest junior Brayden Denney added to the streak of broken records Friday, winning boys pole vault upon clearing 14-8. The mark was an improvement on the school record 14-7 he cleared to win the Bonneville Invite a week earlier, breaking the previous record of 14-6 set in 2017 by older brother Austin Denney and Dalton Dopp.
Shelley senior and BYU signee Ty Wright became a back-to-back Tiger-Grizz champion in boys high jump, matching his winning height of 6-8 from a year ago. Rigby junior Taiylor Bybee cleared 5-2 to win the title in a competitive girls high jump, which had nine athletes left at five feet.
The meet resumes today with field event finals at 10 a.m., the opening ceremony at 11:50 a.m. and running event finals at noon.
46th annual Tiger-Grizz Invitational, day 1
Friday at Ravsten Stadium
Top three only from Friday’s finals listed below. Complete results on athletic.net
3,200: 1, Zach Erikson (Idaho Falls) 9:40.22. 2, Peter Visser (Star Valley) 9:40.24. 3, Dallin Hart (Skyline) 9:42.66
4x800: 1, Idaho Falls (Zac Bright, Joseph Ereaux, Mitchell Athay, Zach Erikson) 8:08.90. 2, Pocatello 8:13.20. 3, Canyon Ridge 8:16.30
High jump: 1, Ty Wright (Shelley) 6-08. 2, Kaden Hall (Rigby) 6-06. 3, Garrett Hawkes (North Fremont) 6-04.
Pole vault: 1, Brayden Denney (Hillcrest) 14-08. 2, Kaden Hall (Rigby) 13-00. 3, Chris Eckman (Sugar-Salem) J13-00.
Varsity shot put: 1, Nathan Franz (Rigby) 61-10. 2, Dequa Lang (Century) 52-11. 3, Parker Reynolds (Skyline) 52-03
Freshman long jump: 1, Keagan Martin (Madison) 19-05. 2, Nick Nielson (Preston) 18-11.5 3, Nathan Taylor (Rigby) 18-08
Freshman shot put: 1, Kevin Tran (Canyon Ridge) 47-07.50. 2, Alex Cortez (Skyline) 39-03.50. 3, Toby Pinnock (Sugar-Salem) 38-02.50
3,200: 1, Sariah Harrison (Skyline) 11:32.53. 2, Hailey Thueson (Thunder Ridge) 11:37.33. 3, Karlie Callahan (Shelley) 12:01.62.
4x800: 1, Rigby (Rainey Gallup, Allison Johnson, Makenna Bird, Hailey Phillips) 10:06.76. 2, Thunder Ridge 10:09.99. 3, Shelley 10:14.38
High jump: 1, Taiylor Bybee (Rigby) 5-02. 2, Madison Lempka (Shelley) J5-02. 3, Hadley Scoresby (Thunder Ridge) J5-02.
Discus: 1, Vanessa Delgadillo (Idaho Falls) 126-00. 2, Mateya Mobley (Rigby) 125-03. 3, Mayla Ivie (West Jefferson) 116-05
Freshman long jump: 1, Lynzey Searle (Burley) 16-00. 2, Kinley Brown (Teton) 15-05.50; 2, Tailer Thomas (Skyline) 15-05.50
Freshman shot put: 1, Elizabeth Michaelson (Marsh Valley) 32-11. 2, A.J. Dawson (Madison) 28-05. 3, Brylee Furniss (Thunder Ridge) 26-05