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2024 Idaho High School Track and Field Preview
Idaho athletes ready to make statement in final track season before revised classifications take effect
Published: 3/19/2024 4:03:35 PM
Marlowe Hereford
Contributing Writer
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS

The 2023 season brought some notable 'firsts' for Idaho high school track and field.

Skyline's Claire Petersen and Rigby's Abby Hancock became the first Idaho girls on record to break 11.9 for the 100 meters, doing so not once, but twice: winning their third consecutive 4A and 5A District 6 titles and then defending their 4A and 5A state titles eight days later.

Burley's Gatlin Bair won the 4A boys 100 and 200 titles and running all-time bests of 10.15 and 20.41, putting him at No. 4 and No. 2 in the U.S. at the time. He and Petersen went on to receive Idaho's Gatorade Players of the Year awards for track and field.

Skyline claimed the 4A girls team title for its first girls track state championship in 30 years.

Victory Charter and Aberdeen won program first state titles upon claiming the 1A and 2A boys championships, respectively.

Javelin makes its debut this season before being added to the state meet program in 2025. Additionally, May will be the last state meet under the current classification system. Here are the teams and athletes to keep an eye on for the 2024 season.

 

Class 5A

Rocky Mountain and Boise continued their dominance in the 5A classification last spring, with the Grizzlies capturing their seventh consecutive 5A boys title and the Brave extending their 5A girls title streak to three in a row.

The Brave secured the girls title and state runner-up boys trophy at the end of a season that involved practicing at four different locations while their new track was being constructed.

Boise hosted its first meet on its new track on March 8.

"It was good," said Boise distance coach Aaron Olswanger said. "We're still limited with space, but the facility is beautiful. Everything's upgraded."

The Brave return a notable crop of state finalists from both their state champion girls team and defending state runner-up boys team. For the girls, high jump state champion Alexandra Gustavel returns as does Allie Bruce (800 and 3200 medalist, 1,600 state champion, member of state champion 4x800 team), Sophia Clark (defending 400 state champion, medalist in 200, 4x200, 4x400), Audrey Orme (1,600 runner-up, member of state champion 4x800 team), Mia Nelson (pole vault medalist), Adrienne Russell (long jump, 4x100 and 4x200 medalist), Alex Terry (member of state champion 4x800 team) and Autumn Shomaker (defending long jump state champion, medalist in triple jump, 4x100 and 4x200).

"That group is gelling," Olswanger said. "They're just a veteran group right now. This is by far the most experienced, talented group of seniors I've ever had, boys and girls, but on the girls side especially."

Shomaker, who placed sixth in long jump at Simplot Games last month in Pocatello, currently leads Idaho so far this season with a mark of 17-8.25 in long jump.

"She's really fast," Olswanger said. "She had a real nice time in the 100 the opening week. She's on our 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Just a big part of what we do."

The boys' returning athletes include Kaden Helder (800 and 3,200 medalist, member of defending state champion 4x400 and second place 4x800 team), Noe Kemper (1,600 and 3,200 medalist, member of defending state champion 4x400 and second place 4x800), Cooper Smith (200 and 4x100 medalist, member of defending state champion 4x400 relay), Cael Williams (4x100 medalist), Jordan McDonald (second place in high jump), Robert Terenzio (long jump medalist), Liam Hodson (pole vault medalist) and Jack Sheesley (member of second place 4x800). Kemper currently leads Idaho this season in the 800 and 1,600 with times of 1:55.89 and 4:20.06, respectively, while Sheesley leads Idaho with his 3,200 time of 9:31.24.

The boys also have Chase Lawyer--younger brother of Mason Lawyer who is now at Washington State--returning in hurdles, jumps and relays and add Will Studebaker, a freshman who ran a U.S. No. 1 time of 25.63 in 200 hurdles as an eighth grader last year.

"Our hurdler crop is loaded," Olswanger said. "We're excited."

Olswanger said his athletes are especially excited about competing at the Arcadia Invitational (California), Oregon Relays and Boise Relays. He added that he anticipates much competition from within Boise's own District 3, particularly Rocky Mountain and Capital, the latter of which added state medalists Damaris Stuffle, a hurdler from Lewiston, and sprinter Christine Huckins from Skyview. Huckins won the girls 200 in 24.38 and placed second in the 60 in 7.59 at last month's Simplot Games.

Among the returning point scorers for the Rocky Mountain boys are Landon Heemeyer (1,600 state champion, second place 3,200), who received Idaho's Gatorade Player of the Year award for boys cross country in January, Brady Abbott (second place pole vault), Cody Lucas (3,200 medalist), Cole Reed (800 medalist) and Paul Anderson (pole vault medalist).

Rigby, like Boise and Rocky Mountain, claimed two 5A state trophies last season has numerous returning athletes on the boys side including Eli Taylor (110 hurdles medalist, second place 300 hurdles), Cody Cordingley (defending 110 hurdles state champion) and Abram Womack (discus medalist). The Trojans also return defending state champion pole vaulter and Utah State signee Abbie Scott and her defending 4x100 state champion teammate Olivia Howard.

State champions Chelsea Uba (Thunder Ridge, girls 100 hurdles), Ashlyn Sandow (Timberline, girls triple jump), Capital's Victor Byaundaombe (boys triple jump) and Centennial's Kolton Osborn (boys 100, 4x100) also return in 5A.

Highland's Tambree Bell, a member of the defending 4x400 state champion team which helped secure the Rams' fourth place trophy last year, has the fastest girls 400 time thus far this season, a personal best 56.76. Timberline freshman Nadja Burkholder, who placed fourth in girls triple jump at Simplot Games last month, currently leads Idaho in triple jump with 37 feet.

Kuna's Jay Monroe has already broken 11 seconds for the 100 thus far this season with a 10.96 to lead the state in the event.

Keep an eye on the Coeur d'Alene distance boys as well. The Vikings became Idaho's first ever boys team to win Nike Cross Northwest Regionals in November to advance to Nike Cross Nationals and more recently, Zackery Cervi-Skinner, Wyatt Carr, Jacob King and Max Cervi-Skinner teamed up to place third in the 4xMile relay in 17:39.66 at the Nike Indoor Nationals.

Meridian's Nate Stadtlander and Timberline's Ruby Ihmels are also 5A athletes to watch. The defending 5A boys individual cross country state champion, state runner-up in both the 400 and 800 and member of the second place 4x400 team, Stadtlander placed third in the boys 1,600 finals at last month's Simplot Games and ninth in the 1,500 finals and seventh in the mile finals at Nike Indoor Nationals. A freshman and the daughter of Boise State head cross country coach Corey Ihmels, Ruby Ihmels won the 5A girls individual cross country state title in October to lead Timberline to the team championship and placed 23rd at the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in December.

 

Class 4A

Skyline claimed the elusive blue trophy and banner--its first since 1993--last year after three consecutive runner-up finishes. Petersen, now at Weber State, contributed 30 points to that state title, winning third consecutive individual state titles in the 100 meters and 300 hurdles and a second career title in the 100 hurdles. Defending long jump state runner-up Alliya Parke also graduated, and the Grizz are also without Amy Baczuk, defending high jump state champion who tore her ACL during volleyball season.

Returning for the Grizzlies are Nelah Roberts (three-time defending state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200, 800 medalist), Nevada commit Marina Renna (1,600 and 3,200 medalist) and state qualifiers Morgan Price (throws), Molly Rodgers (pole vault), Caliyah Wagner (sprints, relays), Brooklyn Mayes (sprints, relays) and Taleea Orchard (sprints, relays).

"Those younger girls have really done a lot of growing up," head coach Chase Meyer said. "They're doing a great job as leaders. We're short on seniors and those kids are doing a really good job."

Meyer's predictions for the 4A state team titles have been accurate in recent seasons, as he correctly called Skyline's boys team title in 2019, the Pocatello girls team title in 2022, the Skyline girls last season and Bishop Kelly's string of boys team titles from 2021 to 2023. He shared his predictions for this season, although it is only a few weeks old.

"Bishop Kelly (boys) are gonna run away with it and I think Hillcrest is gonna be pretty solid," Meyer said. "The girls is wide open. What relays show up is gonna make all the difference." He added that Century, Twin Falls, Preston, Pocatello and Skyview should all be in the trophy mix for the girls. Twin Falls was second at last year's 4A girls state track meet while Pocatello was third, Skyview fourth and Century sixth.

Roberts, who already owns Idaho's overall state meet record for the 3,200 (10:30.63), is aiming for Lexy Halladay's overall state meet record of 4:43.74 in the 1,600 from 2019. A two-time Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year award winner for girls cross country and a BYU signee, Roberts is currently tied for No. 10 all-time in Idaho for the 1,600 (4:58.06) and her 3,200 overall state meet record is No. 3 all-time in Idaho behind Bishop Kelly's Emily Nist (10:26.92 from 2012) and Boise's Emily Hamlin (10:28.40 from 2015).

She ran 4:53.58 to place second in the girls 1,600 final at Simplot Games last month, and most recently ran a 10:32.9 to win the 3,200 at the Minico Quad, her fastest 3,200 time in two years and the fastest so far in Idaho in the event this season. Roberts also currently leads Idaho so far this season in the 1,600 with a 5:05.66. She said she is especially looking forward to the Arcadia Invitational from April 5 to 6 in California and hopefully competing in the summer as well.

"I am in that higher fitness stage right now," Roberts said. "My ultimate goal is to get invited into Brooks PR (in June in Seattle)."

The Bishop Kelly boys, who have won six of the last eight 4A state titles, return numerous state medalists in Saul Lorenzana (400), Isaac Edwards (800), Charlie Goss (1,600, 3,200), Rakeem Johnson (throws) and Cam Davis (jumps). Johnson is defending state champion in discus and Davis is defending state champion in high jump and long jump.

Vallivue's David Gummersall is defending 4A boys 400 state champion and won the boys 400 final in 48.18 at Simplot Games last month. Vallivue tied for fourth place with Hillcrest at last year's 4A boys track state meet while Ridgevue and Moscow placed second and third, respectively.

Hillcrest returns medalists Mason Edwards (hurdles) and Lucas Witte (second place high jump). Edwards currently leads Idaho thus far this season in both boys hurdles with 14.60 in 100 hurdles and 39.84 in 300 hurdles.

Century's Matejah Mangum carries an impressive win streak into this season. The senior and Utah signee is three-time defending 4A state champion in the 200 and has never lost in the event save for the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals. She also owns Idaho's all-time fastest girls outdoor 200 time, her personal best 24.59 from last year's Tiger-Grizz Invitational. She is a three-time state runner-up in the 100, currently leading Idaho this season with her 12.08, and also has earned state medals in high jump, the 4x200 (gold in 2022) and 4x100.

Defending state champions return in Sandpoint's Ivy Smith (shot put), Twin Falls' Morgan Graham (long jump), Lakeland's Ziya Munyer (triple jump), Ridgevue's Kaylee Wuest (discus) and Pocatello's Hailey Renzello (800). Smith currently leads Idaho so far this season in girls shot put with 42-1.

Idaho Falls senior Luke Athay makes his return to the track this spring after a long absence. A Utah State signee, Athay's last race on the track prior to this year was the 2022 Arcadia Invitational, where he sustained a foot injury he later learned was a stress fracture. He missed 16 months due to surgery and recovery before returning to competition last fall, winning the 4A boys individual cross country state title to lead Idaho Falls to the team championship. His last complete track season was 2021 when, as a freshman, he placed second in the 5A boys 1,600 and 3,200 finals and contributed to I.F.'s win in the 4x800.

 

Class 3A

Sugar-Salem piled on the points last May in Middleton to repeat as 3A boys track state champions and give head coach Brett Hill his 52nd state title combined between cross country and track in coaching stops at Firth and Sugar-Salem.

The Diggers accummulated 149 points in two days, prompting Hill to share where they ranked all-time in his lengthy eastern Idaho coaching career.

"That's probably one of the, if not the best track team I've ever coached," Hill said. "For sure the best team I've ever coached at Sugar."

Hill described his boys team as in a 'rebuilding year' for 2024 upon the graduation of Trevon Holman (state champion in the 100, 200, 4x100, 4x200), Porter Holt (state champion in the 400, 800, sprint medley relay and member of second place 4x400), Adam McCoy (pole vault state champion), Mason Kinghorn (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles medalist, member of state champion sprint medley relay) , Josh Do (110 hurdles medalist, member of state champion 4x100, 4x200 and sprint medley relays), Sam Merrill (member of state champion 4x100), Brynner Jackson (member of state champion 4x200 and second place 4x400), Kort Summers (shot put medalist, discus medalist), Christian Gordon (300 hurdles medalist, member of sprint medley relay) and Tanner Hawkes (100 medalist, member of state champion 4x100 and 4x200 relays).

The Sugar-Salem boys returning athletes include Ryan Bingham (discus medalist, shot put state medalist), Will Caffrey (pole vault medalist), Cach Harris (member of state champion 4x200 and sprint medley and second place 4x400), Hagan Morris (triple jump medalist), Dylan Ball (1,600 and 3,200 finalist), Ammon Lee (member of the second place 4x400) and Jack Larson (high jump finalist).

"I like to try to get my young kids to these big meets where they have a bullpen," Hill said. "I always try to slowly work them into those experiences."

Hill said the Sugar-Salem girls bring back a lot of experience. Among the returning athletes are Nika Nead (state finalist in shot put, discus, high jump), Allie Christensen (pole vault medalist), Kamryn Teichert (long jump medalist), Hailey Dalling (sprint medley relay medalist) and Sophia Dougherty (3,200 medalist). The Diggers also add freshman Janyja Jackson, who is defending 3A girls cross country state runner-up, and senior Mckenzie Winegar, a transfer from South Fremont and a returning medalist in the 3,200.

"It's just an outstanding group, and most of them are juniors," Hill said.

Hill said he expects much parity at the 3A state meet this year. He tabbed fellow District 6 team Teton as a favorite on the boys side, adding he anticipates Sugar-Salem and Timberlake to be in the mix for both boys and girls trophies.

"If you can score 80 points in boys and girls, you're gonna be right there in the trophies," Hill said.

Returning for Teton, whose girls placed second and boys tied for sixth at last year's 3A state meet, are Jack Joyce (100, 200 and 400 medalist), Zane Lindquist (1,600 and 3,200 medalist), Bradley Brown (high jump medalist), Tyson Brown (high jump medalist), Cecilia Martinez (second place high jump), Kaitlyn Zogg (discus medalist) and Clara Nykamp (100 and 400 medalist).

Defending boys runner-up Timberlake returns George Speirs (1,600 and 3,200 medalist) and Caius Tebbe (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump medalist).

On the girls side, Hill said he anticipates South Fremont senior Sage Lyon to excel in distance events and Marsh Valley's Lydia Townsend to win multiple events. Lyon placed third in the 3A girls 1,600 finals last May and in October became South Fremont's first ever girls individual cross country state champion. A sophomore, Townsend won 3A girls 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and high jump and placed second in pole vault as a freshman at last year's state meet and competed at USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in 100 hurdles, pole vault and high jump later in the summer.

Defending girls team champion Weiser returns Claire Matthews (800, 1,600 and 3,200 medalist) and Kailee Lerew (400 state champion, member of state champion 4x100, state runner-up 4x200 and third place 4x100).

Defending individual state champions return in Fruitland's Lydia Lindsey (100 and 200), Coeur d'Alene Charter's Annabelle Carr (800), Gooding's Izzie Stockham (pole vault), Payette's Olyvia Denison (triple jump) and Bonners Ferry's Asha Abubakari (shot put and discus).

 

Class 2A

Aberdeen won a program first boys track state championship last May, 92-80 over North Fremont, while Melba won its fifth consecutive girls state title, 145-94.5 over Soda Springs.

Brody Beck (second place pole vault), Cale Adamson (discus state champion, shot put state champion) and Seth Hall (high jump state champion, long jump medalist, 300 hurdles medalist, 110 hurdles medalist) graduated, but Brock Klassen (second place 100 meters), Beaudrey Driscoll (triple jump medalist), Rick Martinez (shot put medalist) and pole vault finalists Cannon Foster and Mitchell Elliott all return for Aberdeen.

Melba graduated Kendall Clark (high jump state champion, triple jump state champion), Meya Young (100 and long jump state champion), Rozzlyn Cazier (1,600 state champion, second place 3,200, 800 finalist) and Hallie Arnold (200 medalist), and Clark, Arnold and Young were also on the state champion 4x100 and 4x200 teams.

The Mustangs do return Ahna Shaffer (second place 100 and 200), Hayden Higgins (200, 400 medalist), Brooklynn Dayley (800 state champion, 300 hurdles medalist), Emma Dillbeck (high jump medalist), Nyah Richardson (high jump finalist) and Ella Stosich (pole vault and long jump finalist) from its state championship team.

Boys state runner-up North Fremont returns Corbin Johnston (state champion in the 3,200, 1,600 and sprint medley relay, second place in the 800), Brady Allen (state champion in sprint medley relay, medalist in the 100 and 200) and Roy Wynn (medalist in high jump and triple jump). Holly Johnston, North Fremont's head cross country coach who is now head track coach, added that the Huskies are excited for the potential of sophomores Owen Reid (jumps and sprints) and Cameron Shuldberg (jumps and hurdles) and freshmen Dodge Wynn (relays, jumps, throws) and Shane Palmer (jumps, throws, sprints, relays).

In October, Corbin Johnston repeated as 2A boys individual cross country state champion to lead North Fremont to the boys team title by eight points.

"Corbin is excited," Coach Johnston said. "He definitely wants to set some marks for colleges to look at."

Defending individual state champions return in Marsing's Braden Ankeny (100, 200, 400) and Malad's Braylen Tripp (triple jump). Also keep an eye on Bear Lake's Christian Bush, who placed third in the 2A high jump finals last year and cleared 6-8 twice last season.

Returning for the runner-up Soda Springs Cardinals are Jinettie Garbett (state champion in the 200 and 400, medalist in the 100), Izzy Shelton (shot put state champion), Eva Grimm (discus medalist), Amelia Harris (high jump and pole vault medalist), Layla Torman (300 hurdles medalist) and Rebekah Evans (800 finalist).

Individual state champions return in Orofino's Lindi Kessinger (discus), Malad's Oaklie Hebson (300 hurdles)and Cole Valley Christian's Marie Kern (pole vault).

The 2A girls distance events should prove to be as exciting as the cross country state championships last fall, with 2A individual cross country state champion Bella Spencer of West Jefferson making her high school track debut and returning medalists Lucy Boone and Liza Boone of Ririe, Declo's Olivia Wilson, Malad's Cally Coleman, Malad's Brynlee Bastain and Firth's Kynzie Nielson all in the mix as well.

 

Class 1A

Victory Charter claimed a historic 1A boys track state championship last May, winning the blue trophy and state banner by 15.5 points over Rockland.

Those same teams battled it out last fall in the 1A cross country state championships, with Rockland claiming a program first boys state championship by edging two-time defending champion Victory Charter by a two-point margin.

Expect those two programs to continue to bring their best to the track this spring. Luke Stockett, the defending 1A boys individual cross country state champion, returns for Victory Charter as defending 3,200 state champion and defending runner-up in the 1,600 and his teammate Kayden Gibbs (second place 300 hurdles) also returns. Ezra Hubbard (second place 400 and 800) and Hayden Smith (3,200 medalist) return for Rockland.

Individual state champions also return in Challis's Garrett Hunt (800), Tri-Valley's Claytin Harper (100) and Hansen's James Kersey (shot put).

Raft River earned its fifth consecutive 1A girls track state title by an almost 56-point margin over Prairie last May. Among the graduating athletes for Raft River were Libby Boden, now at Idaho State, who ended a decorated career with repeat titles in the 100, 200, second place in long jump and as part of the repeat champion and state meet record setting sprint medley relay team. However, Allie Black, who won a third consecutive 1A girls cross country individual state championship to lead the Trojans to a one-point win for the team title in October, returns in distance events (800 medalist, second place 1,600 and state champion in 3,200) as well as Sadee Knudsen (300 hurdles finalists), Casady Wood (shot put medalist), Ashlee Christensen (high jump medalist) and state record holder Heidi Harper (400 and 4x400 medalist, member of repeat champion and state meet record setting sprint medley relay, member of repeat champion 4x200).

Individual champions also return in Greenleaf Friends' Anna Dixon (1,600), Prairie's Sage Elven (discus) and Valley's Lexi Huettig (long jump, triple jump).


CIRCLE THESE DATES

These meets will feature some of the most exciting performances of the season

 
Boise Relays, April 13 at Mountain View
DirectCom Invitational, April 19 at Davis Field, Pocatello
Tiger-Grizz Invitational, April 26-27 at Ravsten Stadium, Idaho Falls

 

State championships, May 17-18 at Mountain View and Middleton High Schools




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