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Idaho Track and Field Athletes Hit the Home Stretch
Which athletes will shine brightest at the state track and field meet?
Published: 5/19/2022 11:24:34 PM
Marlowe Hereford
Contributing Writer


It is the third week of May, which means state track weekend is here for Idaho.

Team trophies, individual medals and personal, school and state records are on the line Friday and Saturday as athletes conclude the season in the Treasure Valley.

Here are some of the athletes, teams and storylines to watch this weekend at the 5A/4A meet at Boise State's Dona Larsen Park and the 3A/2A/1A meet at Middleton High School.

Class 5A

Boise nearly pulled off a sweep of the 5A team titles a year ago, ultimately taking second to Rocky Mountain by five points on the boys side in a meet that was not decided until the 4x400.

Boise and Rocky Mountain look to battle it out again this weekend, as the Grizzlies claimed the 5A District 3 boys team title 138.5-111 over the Brave last week. Boise's girls won their district title by 69 points over Timberline.

A year ago, the Brave claimed the 5A girls team title by a 106-point margin. Several of those point scorers return, including a wealth of distance girls who scored 74 points by themselves (sans the 4x400 relay) at last year's state meet. Keep an eye on Allie Bruce (800, 1,600, 3,200), Lydia Nance (400), Jamie Hamlin (both hurdles events) and Logan Smith (200, 800), who are aiming to defend Boise's 4x800 state title, as well as Sophia Clark (100), Samantha Smith (1,600) and Annika Zuschlag (1,600, 3,200).

Timberline should give chase to Boise, as should Capital.

Elsewhere, Post Falls senior Samantha Wood is an athlete to watch in the distance finals. She leads Idaho this season with her 4:53 1,600 time from last week's 5A District 1-2 meet and has not lost an 800, 1,600 or 3,200 race this season. Timberline junior Lauren McCall enters this weekend leading Idaho with her 44.33 in 300 hurdles, an event she is undefeated in this season. Centennial's Eva Lowder is undefeated in pole vault this year and is one of five Idaho girls on record to ever vault 13 feet, per

On the boys side, Boise features Dartmouth commit and defending 400 state champion Liam Murray, Washington State commit and defendng 200 state champion Mason Lawyer and Porter Coffield, who placed third in last year's 300 hurdles finals. Lawyer currently leads 5A with his 100 meter personal best (10.68) and 200 personal best (21.45), Murray leads Idaho's all-classification 400 times this season with a personal best 47.79 and Coffield is No. 2 in 5A this season with his personal best 38.76 in 300 hurdles.

Rocky Mountain is also deep with distance runners Tyler Sainsbury (800, 1,600), Trent Wigod (1,600, 3,200), Zac Pollock (1,600, 3,200), and Landon Heemeyer (1,600, 3,200) and sprinters Kade Thompson (100, 200), Hunter Steacker (100) and Jackson Criner (400).

With overall state record holder and defending state champion Nathan Green of Borah graduated and defending runner-up Luke Athay of Idaho Falls done for the season with a foot injury, the 5A boys 3,200 and 1,600 titles are up for grabs. The 800 could produce several fast times, as Highland's Jacob Van Orden leads all of Idaho with his 1:53.76 and three other 5A boys have broken 1:57. Thunder Ridge senior and Utah football commit Tao Johnson returns to defend his 100 state title and currently leads Idaho with his long jump personal best of 23-5.5. He was going for 24 feet at the Tiger-Grizz Invitational but fouled.

Class 4A

Arguably the biggest story--team or individual--this weekend is how Emmett senior Landon Helms will go out in his final state meet.

A Texas A & M signee, Helms has already defined himself as one of Idaho's all-time best with the marks and times he has achieved. He owns Idaho's all-time best 110 hurdles time (13.81 from the BYU Invitational earlier this month, which puts him at No. 22 in the U.S. per and cleared an Idaho all-time best 17-2 in pole vault last month (tied for No. 4 in the U.S. per Among his wins this season: Arcadia (110 hurdles), the Oregon Relays (110 hurdles, pole vault) and the BYU Invitational (pole vault, long jump and both hurdles finals). He has not lost a 110 hurdles outdoor race since April 2019.

Two-time defending champion in 110 hurdles and pole vault, Helms will look to join the likes of Eagle's Donovan Kilmartin, who won three consecutive 5A titles in 110 hurdles, high jump and pole vault from 2001 to 2003 and ended his prep career with a combined 13 individual state titles and the overall state meet record in pole vault (16-6).

In team races, Bishop Kelly's boys and girls remain the favorite upon completing its fourth sweep of the 4A team titles in six years last year. The Knights swept the 4A District 3 titles last week, including claiming the boys title with a massive two-day total of 238.5 points (a 120-point victory margin).

Returning for Bishop Kelly are defending 100 champion James Onanubosi (100, 200), Kevin Corrigan (800), Austin Clough (800, 1,600, 3,200), Patrick Monahan (high jump, long jump, triple jump), Cole Miller (long jump, triple jump), Jacoba Luteyn (currently leads Idaho this season in both girls throws), Grace Shirley (400, 800), Chloe Bateman (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Jordyn Carnell (300 hurdles) and Molly O'Sullivan (high jump).

Skyline head coach Chase Meyer, whose girls have placed second at the last two state meets and whose boys won in 2019, said upon conclusion of the 4A District 6 meet that the Knights are still the team everyone in 4A is after. However, he said two east Idaho teams--the Pocatello girls and Blackfoot boys--are ones to watch in the trophy race. Skyline is not to be overlooked either, as the Grizz are coming off their third sweep of 4A District 6 team titles in five years.

Don't count out Preston either, especially after claiming the 4A District 5 girls crown by 20 points over Pocatello last week.

Some of the top individuals to watch come from these teams. Skyline junior Claire Petersen returns to state in all four events she won gold in last year: the open 100, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4x100. Pocatello sophomore Matejah Mangum also qualified in four events, the 100, 200, 4x100 and 4x200. Both are among four Idaho girls to ever break 12 seconds for the 100, per records, and their personal bests are almost identical. Mangum ran 11.94 in April--the fastest in Idaho this season for any classification--and Petersen ran 11.95 last season at districts. Petersen won both meetings this season, and enters this weekend undefeated this season in the 100 and undefeated and leading Idaho in the 100 hurdles with her personal best of 14.74. Mangum is undefeated this season in the 200 and leads Idaho with her 25.17.

Petersen set a 4A state meet record last year with her 12.13 in the 100 finals, and now she is going for the 4A state record of 14.2 in 100 hurdles.

"I'd like to bring my time into the low 14s," Petersen said at the Tiger-Grizz Invitational on April 30. "I'm going for the state record. For the 100, I'd like to beat my PR of 11.95."

Petersen's teammate, sophomore Nelah Roberts, returns to defend her 3,200 and 1,600 titles. Roberts' personal best 10:32.37 from the Arcadia Invite in April is an all-time eastern Idaho best and No. 4 all-time in Idaho for the 3,200 and her 4:58.29 from Tiger-Grizz last month made her the second eastern Idaho girl ever to break five minutes for the 1,600 (five-time state champion Michelle Pratt of Blackfoot ran a 4:58.06 at the 2017 BYU Invitational). Roberts will also compete this weekend in the 800, which has a returning champion in Pocatello sophomore Hailey Renzello.

All three 4A boys distance event titles are for the taking this weekend upon the graduation of defending champion Shane Gard of Pocatello. Blackfoot junior Matt Thomas, who won gold medals in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 4x400 at last week's 4A District 6 championships, enters this weekend with 4A's top time in the 800 (1:56.45) and 1,600 (4:15.69). Younger brother of three-time 4A 800 state champion Derek Thomas, he said he prefers the 1,600.

"That seems to be what I'm best at," he said at the 4A District 6 championships. "I'm excited (for state). I'm just taking it one week at a time."

Thomas's teammates Eli Gregory (1,600, 3,200, medley relay, 4x400) and Dallan Morse also qualified for state (200, 400, 4x400, medley relay), with Morse also winning four golds at districts.

Class 3A

Two brothers who already own some of the best times and marks this season in Idaho will be the athletes to watch in the 3A meet this weekend. Kimberly's Jaxon Bair, a senior and Arkansas signee, and Gatlin Bair, a sophomore wide receiver who is being recruited by the likes of Oregon, Stanford, Washington State, Boise State, Utah and BYU football, combined for 56 points last season as Kimberly claimed the 3A boys track state title. The two were part of Kimberly's 3A boys basketball state championship in March. Gatlin has run Idaho's fastest 100 (10.46) and 200 (21.19) times this season and has not lost in either of those distances or long jump or triple jump this spring while Jaxon won pole vault, the 400, 110 hurdles, pole vault and long jump at last week's 3A District 4 championships. With their individual events, plus Gatlin as part of the 4x100, Kimberly is in good position to repeat.

Sugar-Salem will challenge the Bulldogs on the boys side while also aiming to repeat as 3A girls state champion. The Diggers, who swept 3A District 6 titles last week for the fifth consecutive year, return Porter Holt (400, 800), Brigham Dalling (1,600, 3,200), Boyd Sorensen (shot put, high jump, long jump), Jonah Schulthies (pole vault)and Toby Pinnock (throws) on the boys side. Returning for the girls are Jaresa Jackson (800, 1,600, 3,200), Jayla Jackson (high jump), Natalyah Nead (high jump, shot put, discus), Cambree Shawcroft (300 hurdles) and Ryley Klingler (400), who won four gold medals last year.

Other 3A athletes to watch are Fruitland's Emma Hillam (3A leader in girls distance events), hurdler Ally Sofaly of McCall-Donnelly, long and triple jumper Sydney Denison of Payette and Snake River's Rylan Anderson (400).

Class 2A

Two of the best distance runners in Idaho will face each other this weekend at the 2A state meet: Nampa Christian senior Grady Mylander and Salmon sophomore Danny Simmons. Mylander has the best 3,200 time in Idaho this season (9:03.81 at the Nike Jesuit Twilight Relays on April 29) while Simmons has the No. 2 fastest time this season in Idaho, 9:06.15, which broke a 23 year-old all-time District 6 record. Simmons' 1,600 personal best of 4:17.89 is No. 6 fastest this season in Idaho while Mylander is No. 9 at 4:19.29. Mylander has not lost a 1,600 race this spring, and he is defending 2A state champion in all three distance races.

Salmon won its first boys track title since 2003 last year and graduated a core of point scorers from that team. However, Salmon won last week's 2A District 6 boys team title 127-81 over North Fremont.

Melba is going for its fourth consecutive 2A girls state title. The Mustangs won the 2A District 3 title resounding last week, 168-94 over Nampa Christian while Melba's boys took second by one point to Nampa Christian. Kendall Clark (100 hurdles, triple jump, high jump), Meya Young (100, long jump), Ahna Shaffer (400), Tayler McCoy return for the three-time defending champion Mustangs.

Other 2A athletes of note are Soda Springs' Jinettie Garbett (200, 400), Firth's Kynzie Nielson (800, 1,600, 3,200), Bear Lake's Elise and Elli Kelsey (1,600, 3,200), Firth's Tara Butler (pole vault, high jump, long jump), Firth's Addison Trent (long jump), Melba's Joe Reiber (100, 200, high jump), Melba's McKoy Richardson (400, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Orofino's Reid Thomas (throws) and Soda Springs' Wade Sims (throws).

Class 1A

Raft River may have graduated twin sisters Karlee and Kaybree Christensen, but the Trojans have plenty of momentum to extend their 1A girls track state title streak to four years.

Heidi Harper (200, 400), Libby Boden (100, 200, long jump) and Allie Black (800, 1,600, 3,200) return for the Trojans in their quest for another state banner.

Carey won a program first 1A boys track state title last year and graduated several point scorers. The Panthers enter state having edged Oakley 104.5-100.5 at last week's 1A District 4 championships. Riley Morey (200, 400) returns for Carey as does Connor Simpson (4x200, 4x400).

Two of the best girls throwers in Idaho are in 1A this year: Mackay's Megan Moore and Butte County's Kiya McAffee. Defending 1A discus champion, Moore has won both throw titles at her last five meets. Defending 1A shot put champion, McAffee has won or placed second at every meet this season, including a win at the BYU Invitational.

Also keep an eye on Rockland's Adelaide Wilson (400, 800), Logos teammates Sara Casebolt and Clara Anderson (all three distance events), Lapwai thrower Alexis Herrera, Murtaugh's Adysyn Stanger (long jump, triple jump), Butte County thrower Porter Taylor and Grace's Cole Wilkerson (all three distance events).

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