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Idaho Athletes Make Statement At 44th Simplot Games
The premier indoor track and field event in the west showcased several outstanding Idaho performances
Published: 2/20/2024 3:29:09 PM
Marlowe Hereford
Contributing Writer
 

Meridian junior Nate Stadtlander shakes hands with Olympus (Utah) senior JoJo Jourdon afer Jourdon won the boys 1600 meters and Stadtlander placed third Saturday at the 44th Simplot Games in Pocatello

POCATELLO--Gem State athletes captured podium spots, medals and impressive finishes Saturday at the 44th Simplot Games at the ICCU Dome (formerly Holt Arena).

The Games, which drew athletes from Canada, Australia and 13 U.S. States, took place from Thursday to Saturday, with prelims for Saturday's finals taking place Thursday and Friday.

Three Idaho athletes had individual wins: Skyview sophomore Christine Huckins of Orchard Athletix in the girls 200 meters, Capital senior Victor Byaundaome in the boys triple jump and Vallivue junior David Gummersal of Spike Up Athletics in the boys 400 meters.

Huckins claimed two medals Saturday by razor thin margins. She won the girls 200 final in 24.3802 while second place finisher Olivia Kirk ran 24.3859, and she placed second in the girls 60 meters in 7.59 while Mikaela Warr won in 7.58.

"It's given me a really good feel on how I know what I can do," Huckins said after receiving her 60 meters silver medal. "I know how strong I'm getting and just getting to put my 60 speed on the 200 is gonna be like really fun to see what I can put out."

Huckins was one of four Idahoans to podium in girls sprints on Saturday. Her Orchard Athletix teammates Quincy Keller (Mountain View sophomore) and Hannah Bingham (Meridian junior) placed fourth in the girls 60 meters and fourth in the girls 400 meters, respectively, while Rams TC's Tambree Bell (Highland senior) placed second in the girls 400, Eastern Idaho TC's Matejah Mangum (Century senior) tied for fifth in the girls 60 meters and placed fourth in the girls 200 and TNT TC's Karlie Bair (Burley freshman) tied for fifth in the girls 60 meters.

"It's gonna be so great running at state against the same people again because we're friends on and off the track," Huckins said.

Huckins, who competes in the 100, 200 and two relays during outdoor season, said getting a big personal best at Simplot has contributed to her liking the 200 more.

"I always liked the 100 and 60 better but now it's definitely probably the 200, knowing how you can always get stronger and always push harder and get better," Huckins said.

Gummersall ran a personal best 48.18 to win the boys 400. He said he was sick earlier in the week, which made Simplot a bit nervewracking, but he went into the 400 wanting to run his own race.

"This season's been really good," Gummersal said. "Last season I got injured halfway through the indoor season so its's definitely nice to come out here and have a full indoor season this year. Definitely wanted to do some awesome things and thankfully I was able to come out here this year and do exactly what I was hoping for."

This weekend was his first time competing at Simplot. He came away impressed and grateful to be healthy and participate.

"I think it's an amazing meet," Gummersall said. "It's well put together. There's a lot of energy. All the athletes come out here and support one another and that's just the type of thing that makes people love the sport."

Teton junior Jack Joyce was also an Idaho boys sprint medalist, placing fifth in the 200 finals in 22.46.

Meridian junior Nate Stadtlander, Idaho's reigning 5A boys individual cross country state champion, competed in a loaded final for the boys 1,600 on Saturday, leading briefly before ultimately securing a third place finish in a personal best 4:13.12. Olympus (Utah) senior JoJo Jourdon, who won Nike Cross Nationals in December and is headed to New Balance Indoor Nationals next, won in a meet record 4:07.73 and was quick to shake Stadtlander's on the banked wooden track after the finish.

 "I knew it was gonna be a tight race," Stadtlander said. "I'm happy with the way it turned out."

Stadtlander will next be turning his attention to Nike Indoor Nationals. This was his second appearance at Simplot Games, having placed fifth in last year's boys 800 finals.

"The competition is always good," Stadtlander said. "It's a great place for a PR."

Byaundaome, Idaho's defending 5A state triple jump champion who had a personal best outdoor mark of 47-11.75 as a junior, won Saturday's title with an indoor personal best 47-8. He placed sixth in last year's Simplot finals. Club and Capital teammate Jeremiah Wesseh was fifth Saturday with 44-5.75. Other field event medalists were Mangum (tied for sixth in girls high jump), Boise senior Autumn Shomaker of Idaho Dash (sixth in girls long jump), Emmett junior Blake Johns of Spike Up Athletics (second in boys shot put, fifth in boys weight throw), freshman Nadja Burkholder of Idaho Dash (fourth in girls triple jump), Challis freshman Lilly Stebbins (fifth in girls high jump), Hillcrest senior Lucas Witte (tied for fifth in boys high jump) and Middleton junior Logan Andersen of Spike Up Athletics (tied for fifth in boys high jump)

Skyline senior Nelah Roberts continued to move up during the girls 1,600 final and ultimately placed second in 4:53.58, a personal best by almost five seconds. Annika De Smet, a sophomore from Winnipeg, Canada, won in 4:50.26.

Roberts, who became Idaho's first four-time girls individual cross country state champion last fall, placed third in the girls 3,200 final at last year's Simplot Games despite no interval training. She said the difference from last year's meet to this year was incorporating interval training into her workouts to prepare for this weekend's meet.

"We've been doing sixteen 200 meter reps," Roberts said. "I was happy to finally get a PR. It was an incredible day for me."

Not only did Roberts take second to a Canadian in her final, but she also beat an Australian, Lara Sacaner. The opportunity to face international competition at a high school meet so close to home continued to impress Roberts at her second Simplot Games appearance.

"It's really amazing to know that this meet is 45 minutes away and it's always such a big meet," Roberts said. "The atmosphere just carries you so much."

Meridian junior Paisley Taylor, competing for YMCA Team Idaho, placed fourth in the girls 1,600 and Thunder Ridge's Klarisa Earl placed fourth in the freshman girls 1,600. Coeur d'Alene's Max Cervi-Skinner placed fifth in the boys 3,200.

Highland's

Spencer Van Orden of Rams TC placed third in the boys 60 meter hurdles in 8.14. Competing on Idaho State's familiar wooden track at a meet in his backyard had some advantages for the Highland sophomore.

"I love hearing everyone complain about the boards (on the wooden track)," Van Orden said with a laugh. "I'm used to it. This is where we (Ram TC) practice."

Simplot concluded his indoor season. As Van Orden shifts his focus to outdoor, he has big goals in mind.

"Both of the hurdles school records are within reach for me," Van Orden said.

Rigby senior Eli Taylor of Trojan Track also medaled, placing fifth.                                                                                                                                                  Rams TC, all Highland High School runners, who won
                                                                                                                                   the All-Idaho girls 4x200. Tambree Bell, the last one on
                                                                                                                                   the right, also placed second in the girls 400 meters.





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