One of the great things about track and field is the combination of individual excellence that can be directly measured and team success. Speed is speed, in small communities with Class 2A schools and in larger cities that field teams at 4A and 5A squads.
Even if a team does not have the overall talent to chase a state championship, there are 16 individual events for each gender in each classification, and that gives the best athletes ample opportunity to find their way to the top of the medal stand.
There was a changing of the guard at the top of Utah state Class 5A track and field at Saturday’s state meet, as Herriman toppled powerhouse Davis in winning both the boys and girls championships. As for Utah Valley schools, Maple Mountain is in the midst of building championship programs in many sports, and the Golden Eagles are getting close on the track. There were no local team champions, but there are plenty of highs to celebrate among the individual competitors, along with a near-miss for the Maple Mountain girls.
Here are 10 top Utah Valley stories from the state track championships contested Friday and Saturday on the track at Brigham Young University.
As it often does in the best track meets, the Class 4A girls team championship came down to the final event of the day – the 4×400-meter relay. Front-running Box Elder did not have a team in the relay final, which opened the door for Maple Mountain.
The Golden Eagles knew that a finish anywhere in the Top 5 would put them on top of the podium. It was the closest of battles for that fifth spot, but Region 8 rival Timpview edged Maple Mountain at the tape, dropping the Golden Eagles to sixth and leaving them 1/2-point short of that girls state championship.
Nevertheless, it was as strong finish for Maple Mountain, serving notice that the Golden Eagles are a force in track and field.
A year ago, clearing the bar at 10 feet would have been a big deal for American Fork High pole vaulter Ariel Jolley, but this is 2014, and the senior has been in strong pursuit of the state record in the girls pole vault. At the Region 4 championships May 8, Jolley cleared 10-feet-6-inches, getting her within three feet of the state mark set in 2013 by Bingham’s Bethany Foster.
This weekend, Jolley closed out her high school career with a personal best 10-8, good enough for a state title win (by eight inches over the nearest competition). It left her one inch shy of equaling the state record.
At the BYU Invitational, a nationally-ranked runner from outside the state pushed Mountain View High’s Sam Sorensen to his personal best performance in the 800 meter. The 1:53.77 he posted two weeks ago still stands as the best time posted this year.
In Saturday’s state finale, Sorensen was the front-runner, and he was not able to equal that time, but he got close. A 1:54.62 was good enough for a .68 second margin of victory over Isaac Faux of Maple Mountain and a second consecutive state title in the 800.
Two more examples of hitting your best performance on the biggest day came in the 4A javelin competition this weekend at BYU. A pair of Utah Valley seniors took the boys and girls state titles by reaching career-best tosses that distanced both from the competition.
Maple Mountain’s Tarin Strosser extended his personal record by nearly 11 feet, winning the girls championship with a throw of 145-feet-.25 inches. The 4A boys battle went to Brandon Holden of Provo, who reached 194-3.5, bettering his previous long of 187-11.
Trevor Bursach had some success on the track Saturday, but his best performances of the weekend came in his two jumping events. The Lehi High senior popped out the best long jump in the state this year this weekend to win the 5A title in that event with a 23-feet-1.5-inch leap.
Bursach also equaled his career and season-best in the high jump at 6 feet, 8.25 inches to win his way to the top of the medal stand in that event as well.
Megan Elmont from Maple Mountain was another Utah Valley long jump champion, as her 17-foot-10.5-inch jump took her to an individual state title. Her personal record came earlier in the season when she bested the 18-foot mark, but on this day, it was about the gold medal.
Lehi’s Bursach wasn’t the only Utah Valley jumper to have success at the high jump pit. In fact, local athletes owned the high jump in Class 4A on both the boys and girls side of the competition.
Tarin Strosser was the Maple Mountain high jumper who entered the 4A girls competition with the best performance of the year to-date. Her 5-5 at the BYU Invitational would have been good enough to equal the top jumpers Saturday, but it was her teammate Josee Anderson who lifted off to equal that height at state. Based on fewer attempts along the way, Anderson earned the state title with her 5-5 effort.
In the 4A boys high jump competition, Chad Best of Timpanogos cleared the bar at 6-5 on his first attempt, and then watched as three other jumpers failed to get over the top on their three tries, leaving Best as a state champion.
The 5A boys sprints belonged to Valley runners, and for Lehi senior Zac Morris, it was his final high school race, the 200 meters at state, before he broke through to reach the podium at a state meet. Morris was disappointed early Saturday at his third-place result in the 100 after he ran a 10.84 in Friday qualifying, but he came back strong to hold off a trio of Riverton runners in winning his final run with a 21.71 200-meter. It was little off his 21.47 personal best from the BYU Invitational, but it was good enough Saturday.
Jonah Trinnaman of American Fork was the favorite entering the 5A 100-meter finale Saturday, and the senior did not disappoint. A 10.73 was .05 seconds off his all-time best, but it gave him a comfortable margin of victory in claiming the top spot on the podium at state.
With Timpview legend Lauren Baxter now running at BYU and last year’s 4A freshman sensation Kaysha Love of Herriman now dominating the field in 5A, the girls 4A sprints were wide open this weekend.
One of the runners stepping up to fill the void at this year’s state championships was Springville junior Mckayla Montgomery. Somewhat off the radar coming in, Montgomery finished second in the 100 final, but it got even better the rest of the day. She anchored her 4×100 relay team to a state championship, and then capped things off with the individual gold in the 200-meter.
Not all of the runners on the radar of Utah Valley sports fans compete for local high schools. As always, we are keeping our eyes on athletes we will see when they get to the next level, and a quartet of future BYU Cougars were in the news at the BYU track this weekend.
Two weeks ago, future BYU track athletes Cam Dopp of Woods Cross and Davis’ Trevor Leavitt made headlines on this same track when both set new state records at the BYU Invitational.
For Leavitt, the news of this weekend was not so good, as the state record holder in the 400 went down in Friday 100-meter qualifying with a hamstring injury that ended his state meet. The next time he sees this venue, it will be as a member of the home team.
Dopp, on the other hand, closed out his high school career with three 4A state titles. He won the 110-meter hurdles, the 400 and the 300-meter hurdles. It is in that event that Dopp is the state standard bearer.
The other two future Cougar stories of interest don’t involve the BYU track team. Alta sprinter Madison Lyons had the pleasure of running against Herriman’s Love in the 100 and 200, and finished second to the state-record holder, both times. Rachel Bingham of Maple Mountain contributed to the state runner-up’s 4×400 relay, and she also ran fourth in the 200-meter.
Lyons and Bingham are on their way to BYU, where they will be part of the highly-regarded Cougar women’s soccer team.
State records were not in jeopardy in the battle for the 4A girls shot put title, but a large group of very closely matched competitors staged a strong battle for a state title, nonetheless. In the end, it was a good day for Lia Ili from Provo High.
The junior hit 37 feet, 1.25 inches on her fourth attempt to surge past Strosser of Maple Mountain. That heave held up for two more rounds, and Ili was a state champion.