As the high school track & field nears the midway point of the season, and athletes shave big chunks of time from week to week on the track and others add distance in their field events, it’s shaping up to be a very competitive season across the state.
In the state’s upper classifications there are multiples teams on both the boys and girls side who will challenge for state titles later this season, while in the smaller classifications the potential of runaway state titles is much more likely.
And from an individual standpoint, marquee athletes like Provo’s Meghan Hunter, Enterprise’s Jaslyn Gardner, Timpview’s Aidan Troutner and Davis’ Xakai Harry are all a threat to break state records anytime they step on the track.
Here’s a class-by-class looking at the track & field landscape four weeks into the season.
A year ago Davis clinched both the boys and girls state titles during the final race of the state meets, and the competition should be equally as tight in the newly-created 6A. Exactly who ends up winning the titles is a big unknown.
Davis’ boys team is very strong in the jumps with Harry and Andrew Simonsen and the hurdles as well, while Herriman is extremely strong in the throws once again this year. Syracuse figures to be competitive as well with strong depth in the sprints as well.
New Davis track coach Markham Hyde, who was previously an assistant at Syracuse, said it’s a luxury to have elite athletes like Harry and Simonsen, but that others could emerge as well for the Darts.
“A lot of the other kids want to be mentioned too, so they’re working harder to be part of that conversation as well,” said Hyde.
Harry is the state record holder in the long jump with a distance of 23’10.50 at last year’s BYU Invitational.
While the boys competition figures to be a two- or three-team race, as many as five 6A girls teams could factor into the state title race in May led by Weber, Lone Peak, Syracuse, Herriman and Davis.
“It’s a lot more competitive on the girls side this year, there are a lot of really good teams to go against,” said Hyde.
Like the boys side, Herriman’s strength is in the throws led by Losa Latu and Viola Talifa. It also has a couple of quality distance runners.
Krista Farley is a weapon in the sprints for Weber, as is Brittany Cardall for Syracuse.
Lone Peak, no question, has the most depth on the track led by sprinters Jada Ragin, Alison Richter and Elizabeth Norton, and then Ali Bybee in the distance.
Lone Peak’s Emily Ellis, who has committed to Nebraska, hasn’t raced yet this spring but if she’s available later in the season that could push the Knight over the top in the team race.
The strength of 5A is focused on Utah County, and there are a lot of quality teams in the competition.
On the boys side defending champ Springville headlines a group of contenders that also includes Maple Mountain, Skyridge and Timpanogos, while on the girls side Maple Mountain and Timpanogos are two of the top teams to beat along with Corner Canyon.
Some of the biggest storylines involve athletes not associated with any of those programs.
Timpview’s Aidan Troutner was the Gatorade National Cross Country Athlete of the Year last fall, and breaking the 1,600 meter state record time of 4:06.22 is certainly a possibility by the end of his senior year.
East junior William Prettyman won the 100 and 200 meters last year in 4A, and he’s the favorite again this year. His top 200 time this season of 21.45 was just .28 off the state record set by Syracuse’s Hunter Woodhall last year.
Provo’s Hunter is the star on the girls side of 5A. She already owns the top time in the 100, 200 and 400 meters this season, and 400 is where she really shines. At last week’s BYU Invitational she won the 400 meters with a time of 53.56, which was just .17 shy of the state record which has stood since 2008.
Hunter missed the second half of last season with an injury, but she’s trying to make up for lost time by dominating this year.
Woods Cross freshman Carlee Hansen is another elite athlete who could threaten overall state records. She owns the best time in Utah in both the 800 and 1,600 meters and the second-best time in the 3,200 meters. By the time she graduates in 2021, she could definitely best those state records held by Davis’ Shea Martinez and Ogden’s Sarah Feeny.
If the first month is any indicator, Orem’s boys and Cedar’s girls are the obvious favorites in the revamped classification.
Led by Julia Hunt and Jasie York in the sprints, and then juniors Mic Webster, Harley Taylor and Kaysie Klemic in the distance Cedar has enjoyed a dominant start to the track season.
Defending state champion Desert Hills has depth that could ultimately help it close the gap on Cedar at both region and state, but it’s a big hill to climb.
On the boys side, Orem has the depth, star power and awesome relays.
“They see the success, and the culture of success breeds additional success and the kids want to be a part of that,” said Orem coach Andy Jacobs.
Orem was always could to be the front-runners in 400, but success the football team enjoyed in the fall has carried over to the spring with a bunch of football players coming out for track.
A couple of those football players will contend for individual titles. Orem High quarterback Cooper Legas is one of the top javelin throwers in the state, while Austin Kirkby is one of the best discus throws in 4A.
On the track, Kam Radebaugh is dominant in the 200 and 400 meters while teammate Brandon Williams is one of the top runners in the 400 and 800.
If that wasn’t enough to push Orem to the top of the 4A mountain this season, its relays could ultimately sweep all three races at state.
“For us, relays are super important because you can’t win a championship without great relays,” said Jacobs.
The addition of an extra classification by the UHSAA has changed the landscape in 3A and 2A perhaps more so than in any other classification, and that could continue on the track this spring.
For programs like Morgan, Juab and Richfield, competing for state titles in the old 3A wasn’t very realistic against juggernaut programs like Desert Hills and Cedar. Now that those programs have bumped up a classification there are new opportunities this season which should make for an exciting second half of the track season.
On the boys side, Morgan and Richfield are among the favorites along with Grand which bumped up from 2A.
Kaleb Bowles and Carson Wilkins provide strength at the distance events for Morgan, while Jakob Lenthe is strong in the sprints.
Richfield’s strength is in the distance events with Hayden Harward and Jonathan Monsen, and then Kade Jensen is strong in the 200 and 400 meters.
Grand has depth in the sprints and the throws and a quality high jumper in Teddy Park that it hopes gives it a shot late in the season.
On the girls side, Juab has emerged as the favorite led by sophomore sprinter Ronnie Walker, sophomore distance runner Lorralyn Bronson and then a strong collection of jumpers and hurdles.
North Summit swept the boys and girls state cross country titles last fall, and it’s a feat it hopes to duplicate on the track again this spring.
On the girls side, the Braves are the clear favorite in 2A even though its squad is very young after seniors Sadie Sargent and Maggie Zwahlen. The duo of Sargent and Zwahlen finished 1-2 at state cross country last fall and they could easily go 1-2 in every distance event on the track.
Coach Dave Peck needs some of his younger athletes to step up in the sprints and on the field, but he’s confident they’ll do so.
“We have a pretty good bunch out this year, but they’re just really young,” said Peck. “It looks like we’ve got a team that should be able to compete.”
On the boys side, Millard and Beaver and are the favorites ahead of North Summit.
Cody White, Tayte Staples, Gideon Gren and Seth Brown all placed in the top 10 at state in cross country and those similar distance events is where the Braves will need to shine and try and compete this spring.
A year ago Millard finished second to Delta for the 2A title, but with Delta now in 3A, the Eagles hope their depth and star power push them over the top. Turner Koyle could sweep the 100, 200 and 400 meters this season, while Jayce Thompson, Jarren Camp and Shade Woodard are great in the distance events.
One of the biggest storylines in 2A could be at shot put. Austin Carter hurtled the shot put an incredible 63’06.50 at the UVU Invite last weekend. It’s the best mark in Utah since 2007.
Carter is also the favorite in the discus.
Panguitch swept the boys and girls 1A track titles last year, but repeating won’t be easy as Milford has very strong boys and girls teams as well.
In previous championship season Panguitch’s girls relied on its distance events, but this year it’s the opposite. Karlee Eyre, Abbey Blevins, Taylor Norris and Mataya Barney gives the Bobcats great depth in the throws, while Norris is also a contributor in the 400 meters and Blevins in the 200 meters.
Kapri Orton could score 30 team points all on her own as she’s the favorite in the 100 and 300 hurdles and the high jump.
Milford’s strength on the girls side is in the sprints, and Panguitch coach Troy Norris said, “hopefully we have enough to counter their speed.”
On the boys side, many of the same athletes who helped lead Milford to the state football title are playing big roles on the track, led by Colton Pomerinke, Brian Williamson and Bryson Barnes.
“Milford is looking a lot stronger than I expected. They have a lot of speed and they have good field events,” said Norris.
Panguitch will lean heavily on its distance events led by Porter Schoppe, Hagen Miller and Trevor Wolfley, a trio that helped the school to a runner-up finish at last year’s state cross country meet.
Monticello, which won the state cross country title, can’t be discounted on the track either as those same Adam Bunker, Alan Pettit, Hyrum Johnson and Ryan Bird are capable of scoring big points again.