The Grand County High School boys track and field team won a decisive 3A state championship at Brigham Young University on Saturday, May 19 after compiling a 115.5 point team total, far outpacing second-place Delta High School which had 87 team points.
The championship came after the boys put together victories from senior Brayden Schultz in the high jump, second-place finishes by Eli Hazlett in the 400-meter race (48.13), a second-place finish in the 4x100 team relay and team sprint medley, and second- and third-place individual finishes for senior Ryan Lewis in the 1,600-meter (4:28.00) and 3,200-meter (9:57.07), respectively. In all, Schultz tallied up 20 of the team’s 115.5 points.
The girls team, anchored by junior Veda Gritts, won third place overall at the state meet, tallying 52.1 points, which edged Morgan High School’s 52-point performance out of the top three.
The Schultz factor
In what was only the second time ever taking the field for the Grand County High School track and field team, Schultz leaped into a stunning victory in the high jump with a flight of 6 feet 6 inches, placed third in long jump and fifth in shotput, all while assisting his teammates to a second-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay. It was a bold move for the Red Devils sports program to enter Schultz; the senior all-around athlete only finished the 2018 high school baseball season last week, recording two runs and two hits, all while smacking in three Red Devil RBIs in a playoff loss to Judge Memorial. Schultz also tapped two doubles off the Bulldogs and stole two bases from the Bulldog infield.
“A big part of coming to state was getting ready while baseball season was still going on,” Schultz said. “We had to take time, when it was available, to get me out on the track where I could qualify for the state meet. Once we did that, I knew I would be able to help and there is no feeling like going out there and helping my teammates win this championship.”
The Red Devils finished in seventh place in 2017, and the Lady Devils ended last season in 15th place. The last time the boys won state championships was in 2011, 2012 and 2014. For head coach Dennis Wells, this season has been one of undying hope for a state championship for either team, and now that the dream is fulfilled, he said it is time to keep working in the off-season for next year. He also gave a nod to the large points gain the team added by using Schultz in a variety of events.
“You don’t usually see an athlete like Schultz every year, so the fact we were able to use him was great,” Wells said. “He just went out there and got us points and he got that first place in high jump the first time he ever did it. I think it was quite a surprise for these other 3A schools to see little Grand County come up and do this well this year.”
Other boys events
In javelin, Dakota Johnson took third place with a throw of 160 feet 8.25 inches, and Jarom Shumway took sixth place in discuss with a throw of 124 feet 8 inches. Hazlett added a fourth place finish in the 200-meter event with a time of 22.94, while Stacy Randall completed the race in 23.11 for seventh place.
In the 300-meter event junior Connor Guerrero took third place on a time of 40.18, and Dakota Johnson snagged eighth place with a time of 42.20. Senior Ruben Villalpando took fourth place in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.14, just one-hundredth of a second out of third place. Evan Ellison and Malachi Ricks finished in sixth and eighth place, respectively, in the 3,200-meter event.
The girls take bronze
The duo of Gritts and freshman Kylah Ricks combined for four second-place finishes for the Lady Devils, which combined with other finishes in team and individual events, gave Grand County just enough scoring firepower to pass Morgan High School and claim third place at the meet.
Gritts, a multi-sport athlete for the Lady Devils, grabbed silver medals in discus and shotput. She threw for 108 feet 7.25 inches in javelin for sixth place. In discus, she threw for 108 feet 8 inches, and in shotput delivered a toss of 37 feet 4 inches.
Ricks also delivered silver medal performances by taking second place in the 3,200-meter event (11:37.91) and the 1,600-meter timed run (5:23.97). Ricks took seventh place in the 800-meter race (2:26.89) and helped deliver an eighth-place finish in the team sprint medley (4:32.62).
In girls javelin, Reagan Paxman finished fifth (95 feet 6.5 inches), while Shane Stroder took eighth place in discus with a distance of 94 feet and one-quarter inch. Annabelle Garrett recorded 4 feet 11 inches in the high jump for fifth place, and Morgan Lewis took seventh place with a leap of 4 feet 9 inches. Auburn Jackman took eighth place in the 400-meter event with a time of 1:01.33, and Anika Scherer earned a fifth-place finish in the 3,200-meter event (11:54.55). Jessica Anderson placed sixth in the 1,600-meter event with a time of 5:35.05. The girls 4x400 relay team took eighth place on a time of 4:22.61.
“I’m really happy about how the girls team performed at state,” Wells said. “We had a shortage of girls due to injuries this season and I am surprised we took third place. If we had some girls we lost to injury this year, I think we could have sneaked into second this year. We have all our scorers returning next year, so I am hoping for two buses to bring us back into town next season. One for the girls and one for the boys.”