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Broken Records Provide Spectacle at Idaho State Track Championships
It may be a while before we see a historic weekend like this again
Published: 5/24/2022 9:56:26 AM
Marlowe Hereford
Contributing Writer


Those in attendance at the Idaho high school track and field state championships witnessed some impressive record-breaking performances that may hold up for a while.

Emmett senior Landon Helms and Skyline sophomore Nelah Roberts took down historic records and collected multiple gold medals at the 4A state meet at Boise's Dona Larsen Park. Helms won four golds: long jump (23-1), pole vault (15-0), 110 hurdles (13.69) and 300 hurdles (38.15). He matched the accomplishment of Eagle's Donovan Kilmartin in 2003 by winning three consecutive state titles in 110 hurdles and pole vault, and his 13.69 broke the overall state meet record of 14.08 set in 1985 by Capital's Darrin Harris. He finished this spring undefeated in 110 hurdles, winning meets such as the Oregon Relays and Arcadia Invitational along the way. His personal best 17-2 in pole vault from early April is tied for No. 4 in the U.S. this season per while his wind aided 13.67 from Friday's prelims is No. 11. A Texas A & M signee, Helms is the only Idaho boy to vault 17 feet or higher and break 14 seconds for the 110 hurdles.

Roberts broke an overall state meet record and two 4A state meet records over the weekend. Her 10:30.63 to repeat as 4A 3,200 state champion took down Mountain View grad Lexy Halladay's overall meet record of 10:30.80 from 2017 and gave Roberts a 36-second victory margin. The time also broke Bishop Kelly grad Emily Nist's 4A meet record of 10:45.66 from 2012. Roberts won her second consecutive 4A 1,600 state title on Saturday, running her second career sub-5 minute mark with a time of 4:58.06 to break the 4A state meet record of 5:00.18 by Century's Bethany McInturff in 2008.

The sophomore has not lost to any Idaho athletes in either event this season. The only eastern Idaho girl to break five minutes for the 1,600 and 10:45 for the 3,200, Roberts did not learn she broke Halladay's overall 3,200 record until Friday's medal ceremony.

She credited the crowd for helping to push her to both titles over the weekend.

"There were people at every corner," Roberts said Sunday evening by phone. "I could hear my name everywhere I was going. I'm used to pushing myself through training. It's nice to know I can get those times."

Roberts plans to compete at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in June at Hayward Field in the 3,200. Her goal at the start of this season was to hit 10:30, and is now aiming for faster. Earlier this season, she competed at Nike Indoor Nationals in Staten Island in March and at the Arcadia Invitational in April in California.

"I really want to get sub-10:30, right around 10:20," Roberts said.

Plenty of 5A athletes brought the fire over the weekend also. The overall girls 800 record went down but stayed with the same school as Boise senior and Stanford women's soccer signee Logan Smith ran a blazing 2:09.07 to win the 5A girls 800 title and break former teammate Maggie Liebich's overall meet record of 2:11.26 from 2018.

A 2019 Boise grad and a current Princeton student athlete, Liebich was in attendance Saturday. Boise distance coach Aaron Olswanger said she was 'rooting for Logan all the way."

"(Logan's) broken Maggie's school record multiple times," Olswanger said Sunday evening by phone. "I had her from my angle at 2:08 high but the official time came in 2:09 low. She came back not even an hour later and got second in the 200. It really didn't take a ton out of her. She ran an incredible meet."

Smith was not the only Boise athlete to claim an overall meet record. Fellow senior Liam Murray, a Dartmouth commit, won the 5A boys 400 in 47.50 to beat the 2013 overall time of 47.97 by Eagle's James Heckendorn. He also contributed to a new overall boys 4x200 meet record of 1:26.97 with teammates Mason Lawyer, Porter Coffield and Cooper Smith to break the previous record from Mountain View in 2017 (1:27.29). The 4x400 state title also went to Lawyer, Murray, Coffield and Tucker Briggs in 3:22.67. Additionally, Lawyer won the 5A 100 (10.46) and 200 (21.62) while Murray was second in the 200 (21.87).

Emmett's Tatum Richards and Centennial's Eva Lowder both broke the overall girls pole vault record before Lowder claimed it outright. Richards cleared 13 feet to break her own 4A and overall record of 12-8 to win the 4A title, then Lowder cleared 13-9 to win the 5A title.

Behind wins in the 4x800 (7:50.70), 4x100 (42.28), 3,200 (Trent Wigod, 9:20.41) and 1,600 (Tyler Sainsbury, 4:14.60), Rocky Mountain totaled 105 points to win its sixth consecutive 5A boys track title and 10th title in 12 years.

The Boise girls repeated as 5A state champions 121-90 over Timberline. Sophomores Samantha Smith, who received hardship approval to reach state in the 1,600, opted not to compete and nstead cheer on her teammates and get healthy for next year, and Allie Bruce competed at less than 100 percent after battling illness the week leading up to state. Bruce, Lydia Nance, Sophia Clark, Logan Smith and Jamie Hamlin earned medals in four events each, including two relay golds. Bruce, Nance, Smith and Hamlin won the 4x800 in 9:18.92 and Smith, Nance and Clark teamed with Kunie Hirai to win the 4x400 in 3:57.10.

Additionally, Hamlin was second in the 5A 100 hurdles and fourth in 300 hurdles finals after returning to those events in mid-April. A mid distance and distance runner as a junior and sophomore, Hamlin last competed in hurdles as a freshman.

"It's just a testament to her ability to adapt," Olswanger said. "It's a real cool story. We've got the best hurdles coach in the state. At the end of spring break, we had to convince her she's gonna be fine."

Meridian senior Eli Lawrence achieved a three-peat over the weekend, condluding back-to-back undefeated seasons in triple jump by leaping 49-5 for his third consecutive title in the event. He has reached or surpassed 49 feet five times, including his personal best mark of 49-9.25, which puts him at No. 10 in the U.S. per

Post Falls collected two titles from senior Samantha Wood, who entered the weekend with a personal best 1,600 time of 4:53. She won the 3,200 in 10:39.46 to lead a 1-2 finish with teammate Annastasia Peters and won the 1,600 in 4:54.25.

A week after claiming four gold medals at the 5A District 5-6 championships, Rigby junior Abby Hancock won three golds and one bronze to help the Trojans place third and claim their first girls track state trophy since 2016, their last season in 4A. Hancock won 5A long jump with a personal best 18-4.5, came one hundredth of a second from tying the overall state meet record of 12.02 with her win in the 100 in 12.03, won the 200 in 24.85 and contributed to Rigby's third-place 4x100 (49.27). Timberline's Lauren McCall won the 5A 400 in 56.00, 300 hurdles in 44.11 and was part of the winning 4x100 (48.39) and 4x200 (1:42.79) teams.

Skyline head coach Chase Meyer's post district meet prediction of Pocatello being highly favored to contend for the 4A girls team title proved correct. The Thunder won its first girls track title since 1996, totaling 84 points over the weekend. Six-time defending 4A state champion Bishop Kelly finished out of the trophies, finishing three points back of fourth place Twin Falls to place fifth with 52 points. The team standings changed numerous times early in the meet. Through six events, Pocatello led Bishop Kelly 33-30 and Skyline was fifth with 22 points.

Pocatello sophomore Matejah Mangum, who won the 200 in 25.08 and was part of the 4x200 win in 1:43.70, placed second in the 100 and was part of a second-place 4x100 finish. Hallie Pearson also won long jump with 16-9.5 and Hailey Renzello won the 800 in 2:15.15.

Roberts' teammate Claire Petersen overcame a scary moment in her first of four finals and went on to score 30 points for second place team Skyline. A junior who will return to Nike Outdoor Nationals next month in Eugene, Ore., Petersen concluded an undefeated season in the 100 by defending her 4A title in 12.03 to break her own meet record and repeated as 300 hurdles champion in 45.14. She was also part of Skyline's third-place 4x100 in 50.05 and was fourth in the 100 hurdles in 15.87 after avoiding a fall in the final hurdles.

She and Burley's Lynzey Searle were leading the race when Petersen's trail leg caught the eighth hurdle, sending her colliding into the ninth hurdle. Somehow, she did not fall and managed to finish, but spent ample time in the medical tent afterward due to the cut on her right shin. Petersen later watched video of the race and said she has no idea how she avoided falling.

"I somehow managed to keep my balance," Petersen said Sunday night by phone. "Even though it wasn't the medal I was hoping for, I'm so glad I was able to finish the race and was able to get points for my team."

After getting bandaged up, Petersen received encouragement from her coach, who reminded her, 'you've still got a chance to turn it around.' Petersen said her leg 'looks worse than it feels' now, and she was able to show herself and others the mental strength she had to come back from that collision. She plans to participate in club track this summer and has a goal of continuing her track career in college.

"It's one thing to win a race but if I didn't run it as best I could..that's kinda where I'm at right now," Petersen said. "It has given me a lot of motivation to prepare in the offseason and get ready for next year."

Bishop Kelly compiled 132 points over Blackfoot to win its fifth 4A boys team title in seven years. Senior and Arizona commit James Onanubosi won the 4A 100 final in 10.54 after running 10.51 in prelims to break his own 4A state meet record, ran 21.96 to win the 200, contributed to a new 4A state meet record in the 4x100 with a winning time of 42.16 and was part of a third place 4x200. Austin Clough finished third in the 3,200, fourth in the 1,600 and fourth in the 800 while Patrick Monahan cleared 6-4 to win high jump, placed fourth in triple jump and second in long jump. Cole Miller, a member of the 4x100, won triple jump with 45-11, placed fifth in long jump and fourth in the 100.

The Knights claimed both 4A girls throwing titles as Jacoba Luteyn won discus with 144-0 and shot put with a 4A state meet record 44-3.25. Twin Falls' Daulton Monkress won the 4A 400 title in 48.60 to lead the top three finishers all below the previous 4A state meet record of 49.05 from 2017 by Ridgevue's Kade Linder.

The 4A boys 800 title stayed with Pocatello for another year as Sunny Gunn ran 1:57.60 to win and lead a 1-2 Pocatello finish with teammate Brody Burch. The two were also part of Pocatello's medley relay win in 3:31.46. Blackfoot junior Matt Thomas won the 4A boys 3,200 in 9:14.78 and 1,600 in 4:15.29.

The highest team total of the entire weekend was by Sugar-Salem at the 3A state meet at Middleton High. The Digger boys piled up 141 points to win their seventh title in 10 years and give head coach Brett Hill a historic feat. Hill now has a combined 50 state titles in track and cross country in 28 years of coaching at Firth and Sugar-Salem High Schools. Some of those titles included his children, who ran for him in both sports.

"I have been so blessed to work with hundreds, maybe thousands, of athletes that have touched my life in ways that are incalculable," said Hill, a Malad and Utah State graduate. "It's immeasurable the amount of blessing I've had working with these kids. It's been a beautiful opportunity. I hope to keep it going for many more years. I still feel young."

Kimberly entered the weekend as defending 3A state champion and featured two of the top boys athletes in Idaho this season for any classification: brothers Jaxon and Gatlin Bair. Hill said he and his boys team went over a plan on the Thursday before state about what it would take to win a state title: every athlete would need to score a point. The Diggers scored in every event except triple jump, winning the title by 33 points over Kimberly. Sugar-Salem already had 68 points after Friday, a realization that stumped Hill.

"It was an overall team performance when you can score in every event but one," Hill said.

Boyd Sorensen came up huge for Sugar-Salem, placing third in long jump and claiming both 3A boys throwing titles with 163-9 in discus and 53-3 in shot put. Porter Holt medaled in four events, running 1:58.34 to win the 800, contributing to second place finishes in the medley and 4x400 relays and placing third in the 400. Additionally, Sugar-Salem won the 4x100 in 43.61 and placed second in the 4x200.

After two days, the Bairs broke three 3A state records and scored a combined 76 points for Kimberly. A senior and an Arkansas signee, Jaxon ran 14.29 to win the 110 hurdles title and break the 3A meet record of 14.41 set in 2019 by older brother and Missisippi State athlete Peyton Bair. Jaxon also broke Peyton's meet record of 23-8.5 in long jump by winning the event with 24-0.75, placed second in the 400 and cleared 14-0 to win pole vault. A sophomore who has received football offers from Utah, Washington State, Utah State, Oregon, Boise State, BYU and Stanford, Gatlin ran 10.72 to break a 23 year-old meet record and win the 100, won the 200 in 21.54 after running 21.41 during preliminaries to break another 23 year-old meet record, leaped 45-7 to win triple jump and contributed to Kimberly's second place finish in the 4x100.

Gatlin went undefeated in triple jump, the 200 and the 100 this spring while Jaxon went undefeated in long jump.

Behind points from a handful of athletes, Fruitland won its first girls track title 83-78 over Kimberly in a team race where six points separated first place from third.

Defending champion Sugar-Salem was third, one point behind second-place Kimberly.

Fruitland senior Emma Hillam was part of the winning medley relay in 1:52.61 and won the 800 in 2:15.72, the 1,600 in 5:11.89 and the 3,200 in 11:15.43 to wrap up an undefeated season in the event. Lydia Lindsey ran 12.52 to win the 100, 25.92 to win the 200, took second in high jump and was part of the champion 4x100 team in 49.94.

Bonners Ferry's Asha Abubakari won discus by two inches (120-2) and shot put (38-11.5) to claim both 3A girls throws. Kimberly's Kloie Ward won the 400 in 59.56, was part of the winning 4x200 in 1:47.48 and cleared 5-6 to win high jump. Payette's Sydney Denison claimed two field events, winning triple jump with 36-10.5 and long jump with 17-11.5.

Melba completed a program first sweep of the 2A track titles. The boys won a program first title with 98 points while the girls extended their title streak to a fourth year with 106 points. Joe Reiber and McKoy Richardson shined for the Mustangs in the historic win. Reiber contributed to the winning 4x100 in 44.46, ran 11.16 to win the 100, 22.26 to win the 200 and placed second in high jump. Richardson was part of the winning 4x400 in 3:28.25, won the 400 in 49.79 and swept the hurdles titles, running 14.99 to win the 110 hurdles and 38.67 to break an 18 year-old state meet record in the 300 hurdles. For the Mustang girls, Kendall Clark won triple jump (36-1.75), placed second in high jump, fourth in 100 hurdles and was part of the winning 4x200 (1:46.23). Meya Young ran 12.86 to win the 100, was part of a second place finish in the medley relay and took third in long jump for the Mustang girls.

Grady Mylander, a Utah State signee and Nampa Christian senior, repeated as 1,600 and 800 champion with times of 4:17.75 and 1:57.37 and contributed to a win in the medley relay in 3:35.62. The 3,200 title went to Salmon sophomore Danny Simmons in 9:05.04, breaking Mylander's 2A meet record. High jump was decided at 6-10, where Bear Lake's Christian Bush beat Reiber on attempts. Soda Springs' Jinettie Garbett was part of the champion medley relay team in 1:50.91, repeated as 400 champion in 58.59 and also won the 200 in 25.88. Kyle Christensen of Valley defended his triple jump and long jump titles with winnng marks of 43-9 and 21-8.

For the fourth consecutive year, Raft River won the 1A girls title, beating district rival Oakley 86.16-68.16. Libby Boden won long jump with 17-5, won the 100 in 12.57, added a win in the 200 and contributed to the champion 4x200 in a meet record 1:46.61. Heidi Harper broke a 27 year-old meet record to win the 400 in 56.32, was part of a meet record winning medley relay in 1:51.23 and helped the 4x400 team to its second place finish.

The 1A boys team title came down to half a point, with Grace edging Lighthouse Christian 71-70.5 for its first state track title since 1958. Joshua Smith won 110 hurdles (15.50) and 300 hurdles (41.22) while Cole Wilkerson won all three 1A boys distance titles, running 1:56.63 to win the 800, 4:20.04 to set a meet record and win the 1,600 and 9:42.53 to win the 3,200 and contributed to a title in the medley relay in 3:37.77.

Oakley's Addie Mitton set a new meet record by 3.5 inches with her pole vault winning height of 10-7 and Carey set a meet record of 51.19 to win the girls 4x100. Lighthouse Christian's Walker Goettle won three titles for Lighthouse Christian, sweeping the sprints by running 11.26 for 100, 22.67 for the 200 and 51.25 for the 400.

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