The Grand County Red Devil girls track team placed third and the boys placed fourth at the Region 15 Track and Field Championship, which took place on Tuesday, May 10, in Moab.
North Sevier won the girls region title handily with 173 points, outscoring second-place Manti by 39 points. Grand was third with 118 points.
Several runners, jumpers and throwers qualified for the state meet, which will take place Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21, at Brigham Young University in Provo. To qualify, an athlete must place fourth or better at the region meet, or beat the state-qualifying standard, which is calculated taking last year’s standard three times, adding last year’s eighth-place finish at the state championship to it, and dividing by four. Current standards are available at www.uhsaa.org/track/2016/StateQualStandards.pdf.
“We knew North Sevier was running away with it, so I moved some of the girls around into different events to try to qualify more for state,” coach Dennis Wells said. “If I’d left them all in their normal events, we might have outscored Manti, but we’d have fewer girls going to state.”
Wells said the girls team was also hampered by injuries and the decisions of a few athletes not to compete this season.
“We had about seven girls who are really good athletes just decide not to compete this year, which is just the way it goes sometimes,” Wells said.
Only one Grand athlete qualified for an event without placing in the top four, as junior Jayelen Knowles got in just ahead of the standard in the 3,200-meter race, running a fifth-place 12:53.82, but several others placed in the top four to punch their tickets to Provo.
Grand senior Kwincey Wells placed first in the 300-meter hurdles at 50.39, second in the 100-meter hurdles at 16.45 and second in the long jump at 15 feet, 2.75 inches. Wells just missed qualifying in the 100-meter race, placing fifth at 13.51.
Junior Alexa Pierce placed second in the 400-meter race at 1:03.30, while freshman Auburn Jackman, who normally runs the 400, placed fourth in the 200-meter race at 28.26. Jackman also ran the 800-meter race, placing sixth at 2:34.27. Junior Megan Pfnister also qualified for state in the 300-meter hurdles, placing second at 51.02.
Grand had three other female athletes qualify for state in field events. Junior Halli Stocks won the region title in the discus with a 103-foot, 7-inch throw; sophomore Abby Mason placed second in the high jump at 4 feet, 6 inches; and senior Britnee Lewis placed fourth in the shot put at 29 feet, 7 inches. Mason also placed fifth in the long jump at 15 feet, 2.75 inches. Freshman Annabelle Garrett showed promise, particularly in the high jump, before a stress fracture in her foot ended her debut season early.
Grand also had relay teams qualify for state in the 4×100-meter relay, the medley relay and the 4×400-meter relay. The quartet of Pfnister, Mason and sophomores McKenna Johnson and Baelie Pierce placed second in the 4×100 at 54.06; Jackman, Alexa Pierce, Baelie Pierce and Pfnister placed second in the medley at 4:43.27; and Alexa Pierce, Jackman, Johnson and Pfnister placed second in the 4×400 at 4:34.00.
For the boys, sophomore Ryan Lewis won three region gold medals, placing first in the 3,200-meters at 10:43.53, the 1,600-meters at 4:45.18 and the 800-meters at 2:10.39. Despite his region titles, Wells said Lewis will see top-flight competition at state.
“Millard has a strong distance runner and so does North Summit,” Wells said. “Ryan has a good chance to finish in the top three in the (3,200 meters) or the (1,600 meters).”
Joining Lewis in qualifying for state were freshman Jarom Shumway and sophomore Ruben Villalpando, who placed third and fourth, respectively, in the 110-meter hurdles at 17.10 and 17.25. Sophomore Trent Elmore qualified in three events, placing third in the 200-meters at 24.20, and fourth in the 100-meters (11.89) and the 400-meters (54.49). Freshman Nolan Ramirez qualified in the long jump in third place at 18 feet, 2.25 inches.
“The guys are really young,” Wells said. “They’re really starting to come on. They’ve got a lot of potential the next couple years.”
Just missing out on qualifying for state were freshman Teddy Park, who placed fifth in the high jump at 5 feet, 8 inches; freshman Connor Guerrero, who placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles at 46.38; and Villalpando, who placed sixth in the long jump at 17 feet, 9.5 inches.
Manti easily won the region title with 195 points. Emery was second at 145, San Juan was third at 114 and Grand was fourth at 101.
Wells said hosting the region meet was a benefit to the Red Devils.
“Being at home helps, especially if you have athletes that also do other sports, which we don’t really have this year,” Wells said. “It’s nice competing in front of the home crowd twice in one year. The kids’ times were a little better than normal with their family and friends here cheering them on.”