Weather conditions were near perfect for the start of the 2019 track and field season Saturday at the Yellowstone Sports Medicine Invitational in Cody. The Powell High School boys’ and girls’ teams took advantage, finishing second and third overall, respectively.
With athletes from 14 schools participating, the meet featured a solid mix of Class 4A, 3A and 2A competition, with Sheridan finishing in the top spot on the boys’ side and the defending 3A champs Cody Fillies — bumped up to 4A for this season — took first for the girls. Of the 110 kids on Powell’s roster, 95 made the trip to Cody to compete.
“I thought the kids did really well,” said PHS head coach Scott Smith. “First meets are tough to gauge because you don’t always have all your kids, but I was really happy with the kids we had, and we had a bunch. It was good to kind of find out where everybody is at and what we need to work on.”
As a team, Powell won a total of six events, including Sabrina Shoopman in the 100 meter hurdles, Jay Cox in the 400 meter dash, Colby Warner in the high jump, Brody Karhu in the pole vault and Ryan Good in the discus. The boys’ 4x400 relay team also took home gold in that event.
“We’ve got a lot to work with; it was a good, competitive meet,” Smith said. “A lot of kids showed a lot of promise.”
The track teams will be in Cody again on Thursday, and Smith said the team will take the week to work on technique and conditioning. The meet will be a “double dual,” with Powell and Cody’s middle school teams competing.
“We’re finishing up our teaching and will probably start hitting a little more on conditioning this week,” he said. “Especially where the weather is a little shaky. With a small meet like that, we won’t spread our kids out as much.”
On the girls’ side, Shoopman took the top spot in the 100 meter hurdles and finished runner-up in the 300 meter hurdles. The junior just missed prequalifying for state in both events.
“Sabrina [Shoopman] did really well, though her times weren’t perfectly where she wanted them,” Smith said. “But it’s early. She made good adjustments, and is well ahead of where she was last year at this time.”
Freshman sprinter Jenna Hillman had an impressive debut in her first high school meet, finishing second in the 400 meter dash and third in the 100 meter dash, just missing prequalifying for state. She also competed in the 200 meter dash, but because of a glitch in the scoring system, she has yet to be given a final time in the event.
“Jenna [Hillman] had a little bad luck,” Smith explained. “Two of the three races she ran in they had trouble with the timing system. We still don’t have an official time for her in the 200. She took fourth, but we don’t know what the time was, so it doesn’t show as a place. But she ran really, really well.”
In the field events, Cassidy Miner finished second in the shot put; her throw of 36 feet, 9.5 inches prequalified her for state. Fellow thrower Rachel Bonander finished fourth in the discus and fifth in the shot. Maddie Hackenberg was fourth in the pole vault, while Jaz Haney was fourth in the triple jump.
Hailee Hyde and Gabri Lundberg finished fourth and fifth in the high jump, respectively, while Kaitlyn Decker lept to an eighth-place finish in the long jump.
The 4x400 relay team of Hyde, Sidney O’Brien, Hillman and Shoopman finished ninth.
For the boys, the 4x400 relay team of Dylan Preator, Joe Rogers, Cox and Karhu took the top spot with a time of 3:37.46, missing prequalifying by just a couple of tenths of a second. The Panthers placed two runners in the top three in the 400 meter dash: Cox was first with a time of 52.56, while Cole Franks was third with a time of 55.13.
Warner won the high jump with a height of 6 feet, 4 inches, prequalifying for the state meet. Franks finished third in the event with a height of 5 feet, 10 inches.
Karhu took top honors in the pole vault with a personal-best height of 13 feet, 7 inches; teammates Riley Bennett, Kaelan Groves and Reece Hackenberg finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
“Our pole vaulters are really strong again this year, coach Dan Hunter has done a really nice job of getting them ready,” Smith said. “And anything Brody [Karhu] did, he did well. He’s still showing signs of that pneumonia he had [last month], but he had a really good meet in the 200 and 400 meters.”
Good prequalified for state in both of his events, winning gold in the discus with a throw of 145 feet, 6 inches; he also won silver in the shot put with a toss of 49 feet, 5 inches.
“Ryan [Good] had some really good throws Saturday,” Smith said. “He’s way ahead of where he was last year, so that’s good to see.”
On the track, Groves was the top finisher in the 100 meter dash, placing ninth in a crowded field. Karhu was Powell’s top finisher in the 200 meter dash, finishing seventh.
In the distance events, Jayden Yates had a solid day, finishing second in the 3200 meters and fifth in the 1600 meters with a time of 4:47.98.
“I think 4:47 is probably a PR for him [Yates], and anytime we get under 4:50, that’s a good mile time,” Smith said. “He did a really nice job.”
Alan Merritt was 10th in the 800 meters and 12th in the 1600 meters.
In other field events, Preator came in third in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump, both team-high finishes; his jump of 41 feet in the triple jump just missed state pre-qualification. Dalton Woodward was fifth in the triple jump.
“We had a lot of kids just barely missing qualifying for state,” Smith said. “That part of the meet was extremely pleasing at this time of year.”