The Grand County High track and field team finished second in the 3A Region at the Utah High School state championships held May 16-18, at Brigham Young University in Provo.
Over 120 schools attended the 1A-6A class tournament. The boys placed second with 89 points, the girls landed in third with 65 points. Combined, the boys and girls teams overall took second place out of 16 schools in the 3A division with 154 points.
Jayden Dowd took 11th in the boy’s javelin. Dante Wells placed 14th in that event. Sage Stroder, a freshman, fired to a first-place finish in discus; senior Jarom Shumway finished fifth in that event. Junior Carlin Biersheid nailed first in shot put; sophomore Jaymmin Hester earned ninth in shot put. Dowd, Stroder, Biersheid and Hester had been on a winning streak going into the state finals and each has made an effort to become more proficient in shot put, discus, and javelin. Can anyone say quadruple threat?
Boys long jump: Nolan Ramirez took ninth place; Ryelan Jones,12th; Kaine Allred, 14th place. Allred, Jones, Ramirez, Stacy Randall, Corbin Arbon and Jimmie Johnson grabbed sixth out of 14 schools in the 4×400. Randall, Arbon, Guerrero, Hazlett, Allred and Johnson took first in the 4×100.
Eli Hazlett scored second place in the 100- and 200-meters. Hazlett took first in the 400-meters. Connor Guerrero placed eighth in the 200-meters, first in the 300-meter hurdles, setting a personal best in the process, and fifth in 110-meter hurdles. Hazlett and Guerrero were the top point producers for the boys team this season.
Hazlett has been the top 400-meters runner for all school classifications the entire season, but was sidelined with a fever the night before the Region 15 meet. He came back to win the gold for the 3A title in 400 meters and come from third place in the last exchange of the 4×100 to take first.
An interesting note in the meet was in the 100-meters final race, the top two runners were disqualified, which were Emery High student-athlete Braeden Howard and Hazlett (the two fastest boy runners in the state out of all the schools) because the officials put them in the wrong lanes before the race started. When they finished the times were mixed up on the board. The coaches from both teams had to protest and it had to go before the race committee to be cleared.
Other coaches with runners in the race came to the support of Emery and Grand to make the results stand and not disqualify the boys for something that was not their fault. One of the staunchest voices was the coach from Morgan who had the most to lose. If Hazlett’s points didn’t count they would for sure win the meet. The coach said he didn’t care and that whatever it came down to he didn’t want his team to win that way. The Morgan Trojans would win their first state championship in more than 20 years, defeating Grand by about seven points.
Guerrero secured a roster spot on the Southern Utah University track and field team. This is a fantastic finish and new beginning for a young man who, as a freshman, thought he was not good enough to run the hurdles.
Fifth place in the 1,600- and 3,200-meters went to Evan Ellison. Malachi Ricks earned sixth in the 3,200-meters and 16th in the 1,600-meters.
Kylah Ricks was a triple crown winner, yet again. She took first in the 800-, 1,600-, and 3,200-meters. Veda Gritts scored first in shot put and javelin – in which she set a new school record – and she took third in discus. Ricks and Gritts have been Grand’s “golden girls” all season long; no other Grand athletes, male or female, have made it to the top of the winner’s circle more than these two. The adjectives “dominant” and “consistent” barely express the impact Ricks and Gritts have had on the girls team. Interesting note: Gritts, a senior, and Ricks, a sophomore, have something in common; both have been participating in track and field events for only two years.
Gritts and Ricks have been the leading Lady Red Devils this year, but leading ladies would lack character without a strong supporting cast. Best supporting female athletes go to Morgan Lewis and Jessica Anderson.
Lewis tied for sixth in the high jump and took ninth in the long jump at Provo. Lewis is a sophomore and all season long she has risen to the level of older, more experienced jumpers from within Grand County High and the 3A Region as a whole. The sky is the limit for Lewis.
Ricks ran away with a lot of victories. It’s almost a given at this point in time. Anderson, a junior, never played second fiddle to her younger teammate. She landed in the 14th position in the 3,200-meters at state, but all season long Anderson kept other regional runners honest and on their toes; she will often finish second or third or sometimes fifth behind Ricks.
Annabelle Garrett deserves comeback of the year honors. Garrett, a senior, sat out the basketball season due to an injury. She tied for the 18th spot in high jump at the state finals.
Garrett, Ricks, Lewis, Emree Olsen, Auburn Jackman and Kyha Gritts scooped up third in the sprint medley at state. Jackman, Lewis, Garrett, Kyha Gritts, Olivia Medina and Sissy Warden placed 12th in the 4×100. Olsen, Anderson, Lewis, Jackman, Garrett and Tenney Cook took eighth in the 4×400.
The track and field team will lose over 10 athletes to graduation at the end of May, but a strong core will return to take another run at a state title in 2020.
Nicki Hazlett contributed to this story.