Grand County High School placed first in both the boys and girls divisions at the Red Rocks Invitational track and field meet in Moab on Saturday, March 9, which was the Red Devils’ only home meet of the season.
Grand’s boys scored more than twice as many points as their next closest competitor, accumulating 237. Second-place Carbon scored 116 and third-place Emery scored 108. Points are awarded 10 for first place, eight for second, and descending from six points for third place to one point for eighth place. The Grand boys had multiple top-eight finishers in several events.
The girls division was much closer as Grand was on top with 152.5 points, followed by Carbon with 131.5 points and Eagle Valley with 84.5 points.
Both the boys and girls had strong performances in distance-running events. In her first high school track meet, freshman Kylah Ricks had a first-place finish and a pair of second-place finishes, taking the gold in the 800-meters at 2:37.73, and silver in the 1600-meters (5:37.24) and 3200-meters (12:00.72).
Each race for the girls had multiple other finishers in the top eight. In the 800, freshman Anika Scherer placed fourth at 2:41.67, sophomore Ali Hirt placed fifth at 2:43.12 and freshman Emree Olsen placed sixth at 2:43.95. In the 1600, Hirt was in fourth at 6:01.32, followed by Scherer in fifth at 6:04.85 and senior Hannah Stripeika in seventh at 6:13.97. In the 3200, Hirt placed fourth at 12:59.29 and Scherer placed fifth at 13:14.39. Ricks also ran the 800-meter leg of the medley relay, teaming up with senior Abby Mason and juniors Annabelle Garrett and Auburn Jackman for a second-place 4:47.01.6.
Grand track and field coach Dennis Wells said he was impressed by the performance of the girls team, noting that there are a handful of scorers the Red Devils didn’t have last season.
“The girls are really stepping up,” he said, noting that Ricks is already qualified to run at the state championships in the 3200-meter race. “With a solid group of freshmen and Annabelle Garrett coming back from injury, we’ve got about five scorers we didn’t have last year.”
The boys enjoyed even greater success in the distance events, with senior Ryan Lewis winning both the 3200-meters (10:21.16) and the 1600-meters (4:45.73), while sophomore Evan Ellison placed second in both events (10:22.88 in the 3200 and 4:52.96 in the 1600) while also placing fourth in the 800 (2:18.72). Sophomore Malachi Ricks placed fourth in the 3200 (11:18.13) and seventh in the 1600 (5:22.32), while freshman Jimmie Johnson placed sixth in the 800 (2:23.04). Lewis also ran the 800-meter leg of the medley, teaming with juniors Nolan Ramirez, Connor Guerrero and Trent Elmore for a first-place 3:50.28, failing to qualify for state by less than a tenth of a second since the state qualifying standard for the 3A medley is 3:50.20.
Wells said the boys would have qualified easily had they still been in 2A, which is the key difference with the move to 3A.
“You leave some good 2A schools behind and pick up some good 3A schools,” he said. “We compete against schools now in Emery, Richfield and Manti that we used to compete against in 2A. It will definitely be tough.”
The Grand boys had winners in both hurdle events as senior Ruben Villalpando won the 110-meter hurdles at 17.59 and Guerrero won the 300-meter hurdles at 43.47. In the 110, junior Jarom Shumway placed fifth at 18.65 and in the 300, senior Dakota Johnson placed second at 45.83 and Shumway placed sixth at 50.31.
Sophomore Trea Meyer, along with Johnson and Villalpando, took the top three spots in the javelin as Meyer won with a 137-foot, 10-inch throw, followed by Johnson at 132 feet, 4 inches and Villalpando at 130 feet, 6 inches. Junior Austin Johnson placed fifth at 118 feet, 5 inches. Villalpando also competed in the long jump, placing fourth at 17 feet, 11 inches, ahead of Ramirez in fifth at 17 feet, 7 inches. In the high jump, junior Teddy Park placed second with a state-qualifying 6-foot, 1-inch jump.
Shumway also competed in throwing events, winning the shot put at 42 feet, 1 inch; and placing third in the discus at 108 feet, 10 inches. Sophomore Carlin Bierscheid placed third in the shot put at 30 feet, 9.5 inches and fifth in the discus at 91 inches. Junior Connor Ainge placed seventh in the shot put at 34 feet, 5 inches.
The Red Devil boys also scored prolifically in the shorter distances. Sophomore Eli Hazlett won the 400-meters at 52.86, followed by junior Stacy Randall in fifth at 56.10. Hazlett placed second in the 100-meters at 11.63, followed by Randall in third at 11.65, Elmore in sixth at 11.87 and freshman Dante Wells in eighth at 12.11 – the state qualifying standard in 3A for the 100-meters is 11.50. In the 200-meters, Randall placed second at 23.62, followed by Guerrero in third at 23.73 and Elmore in sixth at 24.22.
Randall joined Kasey Kemp, Dante Wells and Ramirez for a second-place 46.60 in the 4×100-meter relay, while Elmore, Hazlett, Guerrero and Dakota Johnson placed first in the 4×400-meter relay at 3:41.00.
“I thought coming into the season that the boys would be really good,” Dennis Wells said. “We’re still young, too. We don’t have many seniors.”
The girls also had strong performances that weren’t reserved exclusively for the longer distances. In the 400-meter race, Jackman placed third at 1:05.36, followed by Olsen in seventh at 1:08.07 and freshman Morgan Lewis in eighth at 1:08.31. In the 4×100-meter relay, Mason, Corah Moody, Olivia Medina and Tava Walling placed fourth at 57.57; and in the 4×400-meter relay, Olsen, Hirt, Stripeika and Scherer placed first at 4:42.54.
In the throwing events, junior Veda Gritts won both the discus (100 feet, 9 inches) and the javelin (100 feet, 1 inch), while placing third in the shot put (30 feet). Shane Stroder placed third in the discus at 88 feet, 3 inches; fourth in the javelin at 76 feet, 6 inches; and fourth in the shot put at 29 inches.
Morgan Lewis won the high jump at 5 feet, while Garrett placed third at 4 feet, 9 inches. Morgan Lewis also placed sixth in the long jump at 13 feet, 9 inches, while Mason placed seventh at 13 feet, 8.75 inches.
Grand is next slated to compete at the Darrel Gardner Invitational in Castle Dale on Tuesday, March 20, at 2 p.m., followed by the Blue Mountain Invitational in Blanding on Saturday, March 24, at 9 a.m.
Red Devils take first in both boys and girls divisions in only home meet of the year