SALT LAKE CITY — The high school track and field season shifts into high gear this week with four major meets across the state that will feature many of the elite programs in the state.
Many of the top teams across the state were hit hard by graduation, and developing depth will be key over the next two months as teams build toward the state championships in May.
Here’s a class-by-class look at the top programs and what to expect on the track in 2019.
The same contingent of elite programs figure to be in the hunt for state titles again this season, with defending champs Davis boys and Lone Peak girls headlining those squads.
It’s hard to imagine anyone unseating Lone Peak.
Even though the Knights graduated elite sprinter Emily Ellis, the program was largely composed of outstanding underclassmen a year ago who are now back and striving to be even better.
Elizabeth Norton, Alison Richter, Ali Bybee and Reagan Gardner all racked up big points for Lone Peak at state last year. Bybee claimed the individual title in the 800 meters, and she already has the top time in that event this year.
Another top athlete to pay attention to is Westlake senior Abby Jensen, the defending state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.
Bingham pole vaulter Hannah Stetler tied the state record last year by clearing 12’00, and she still has two more years to add additional height to the record.
On the boys' side, repeating won’t come easy for Davis after graduating three major point earners from last year’s squad. Depth will be the key if the program hopes to claim its fourth state title in the past five years.
There are still some potential big point-getters on this year’s Davis squad, led by Brendon Redford, Kale Thomas and Caleb Wuthrich. New faces will need to emerge to repeat, however, and the first chance for those athletes to rise to the occasion is this Tuesday and Wednesday at the Davis Super Meet.
Herriman and Syracuse finished second and third, respectively, to Davis last season, and both have the depth to contend again.
Herriman is led by Blake Freeland, the defending state champ in the shot put and discus. American Fork’s Luke Grundvig is the defending state champ in the 3,200 meters.
The state’s second-largest classification is usually the most competitive when it comes to team titles, and that should again be the case in 2019.
Springville’s boys distance runners dominated at state last year as the program won its second straight state title after a 66-year drought.
Two of the top contributors to that two-year success (Brandon Garnica and Devin Pancake) graduated. Grant Gardner, however, is back as he looks to defend his 1,600-meter title. Without as many surefire point-getters around him, depth will be key for Springville in a deep classification that includes other contenders such as Skyridge, Wasatch, Bountiful and Timpanogos.
Skyridge is led by returning 400 meter state champ Josh Taylor and high jump champ Austin Child.
East features several returning state champs as well. William Prettyman is the defending champ in the 100 and 200 meters, while teammate Joshua Hartvigsen edged him in the long jump last year as they finished first and second.
Viewmont’s Jackson Morley is the defending champ in the pole vault.
On the girls side, a year ago Corner Canyon won the state title with just 66 team points, with Woods Cross, Box Elder and Provo close behind within 13 points. Expect another extremely close chase again this year.
Provo is led by the state’s premier athlete, Meghan Hunter. As a junior last year she swept the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters at state to claim 40 team points for the Bulldogs. In the process she broke the 400 state record with a time of 53.39, eclipsing a mark that had stood for a decade.
She’ll be a threat to break 200 and 800 state records as well this year.
Leading Woods Cross’ title chase is Carlee Hansen. She finished second to Hunter in the 800 last year, won the 1,600 and also won the 5A cross-country state title last fall.
The list of contenders in 4A begins with Desert Hills, but the question is, does it end there?
On the boys side it has for the past six years, with the Thunder setting a new state record by winning its sixth straight state championship last spring.
For the girls, Desert Hills and Cedar have alternated state titles over the past four years, and in 2019 it’s Desert Hills’ turn in the rotation.
The boys are loaded again in 2019. Zachary Marsden is back after sweeping the 100, 200 and 400 meters at last year’s state meet. Ryan Warner is also a returning champ in the discus.
Tate Denos, Braden Squires and Mason Liti are three other major contributors back from last year’s team.
Orem was a runner-up to Desert Hills last year, and its lone returning champ is Cooper Legas in the javelin. Other returning champs are Sky View’s Caleb Christensen (long jump) and Lehi’s Trey Anderson (shot put).
On the girls side, based on a very strong showing at the Snow Canyon Invitational in the opening week of the season, Desert Hills has passed defending champion Cedar as the front-runner.
Chloe Taylor is the defending state champ in the 300 hurdles, and she’s one of six standout seniors (Bailey Brinkerhoff, Chloe Kockler, Jenna Welch, Trinity Schimbeck, Abby Monson) who will make Desert Hills very difficult to beat.
Cedar should keep things interesting. Jasie York is the defending state champ in the 200 and 400 meters, while Harley Taylor and Lexi Bird are key returning contributors. The program will benefit by Mayci Torgerson’s move from North Sevier. Last year in 2A Torgerson swept the hurdles, won the high jump and finished second in the long jump.
She cleared 5’7 in the high jump, the best in the entire state.
Other returning champs are Lehi’s Anna Martin (3,200), Ridgeline’s Halle Livingston (100 hurdles), Hurricane’s Alexis Martin (high jump) and Orem’s Taye Raymond (long jump).
Grand’s boys and Juab’s girls claimed state titles a year ago, and did so largely by a contingent of underclassmen. With those same contributors returning, the two are favored to repeat.
Depth will be the key again for Grand. It claimed last year’s 3A state title despite just one individual champion, who graduated.
The Red Devils pieced together numerous second-, third- and fourth-places finishes to pull away from Delta last year. Many of those top finishes belonged to Eli Hazlett, Stacy Randall, Connor Guerrero and Evan Ellison, and they’re catalysts again for Grand.
For the past couple years the state’s top sprinter hailed from 3A with Delta’s Dallin Draper, and despite his graduation 3A can still claim one of the state’s top sprinters.
Already this season Emery junior Braiden Ivie has ran a 10.81 in the 100 meters and a 21.87 in the 200 meters. Those times figure to only get lower as the season progresses.
Other returning champs are Richfield’s Hayden Harward (800, 1,600, 3,200), Carbon’s Derek Hilliam (300 hurdles, long jump) and Morgan’s Bremmer Bennett (javelin).
On the girls side, Juab is loaded with returning talent that helped it pull away from Delta last year.
Leading the way is defending 100 and 200 meter state champion Ronnie Walker. Other key state placers back from last season are Bayli Heap, Maura Williams and Tatum Hyatt.
Delta should push Juab again led by returning champs Adi Nielson (300 hurdles) and Asha Anderson (javelin).
Other returning champs are San Juan’s Katie Giddings (discus), South Sevier’s Kenzie Jones (high jump) and Richfield’s Passion Reitz (400).
Of the 26 combined boys and girls individual events, the 2A state champ from a year ago graduated in 21 of those 26 events.
Millard’s boys and North Summit’s girls, the two defending state champs, don’t return any of those champions. That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare for either.
Millard returns junior Nathan Despain, who will contend in all three sprint events, quality distance runners with Shade Woodard, Jaren Camp and Morris Maxfield, and then Duncan Herbst in multiple field events.
North Summit was third at state a year ago, and with Cody White back after sweeping all three distance events, the Braves should push Millard for the title.
A year ago on the girls side, North Summit dominated with North Sevier, Millard and Enterprise well back, and none of the four return any state champs.
North Summit is still the big favorite to win a fourth straight state title. Alyssa Richins, Sisalee Richins, Hadley Richins, Hannah Lamon, Kennedy Garfield, Teesha Richins, Portia Lee and Brecklyn Murdock all made key contributions to last year’s state title as underclassmen.
The lone champs in 2A returning are Gunnison’s Jade Wimmer (400 meters) and St. Joseph’s Virginia Tomon (discus).
In 1A, all roads to the state title roll through Panguitch.
Panguitch’s girls have won six straight championships, while the boys have won two straight and five of the past six. Both squads are loaded again heading into the 2019 season.
The girls are led again by Kapri Orton and Taylia Norris, who combined to win seven individual titles last year. Orton is the defending champion in both hurdles, the 200 meters and the high jump, whereas Norris swept the three distance events a year ago.
After those two, Panguitch still racked up more than 100 team points at state last year, and depth is why the Bobcats are the favorites again.
Other defending champs on the girls side are Panguitch’s Kambree Fullmer (discus), Tabiona’s Jennasea Allred (long jump), Milford’s Madysen Griffiths (shot put) and Wayne’s Brynnli Nelson (javelin).Comment on this story
On the boys side, Panguitch edged Monticello and Milford to claim the title and it should be another tight race.
Panguitch’s long returning champ is Kanyon Lamb, who swept the hurdles last year and finished in the top four in the 200 and 400 meters.
Adam Bunker had a great state meet for runner-up Monticello last year, and will be among the favorites in four events this year. He’s the defending state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, was a runner-up in the high jump and finished fourth in the 800.
Valley’s Cameron Franklin returns as the defending champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.