Shoshoni hosted a great Class 1-A, 2-A regional meet

May 14, 2019 Randy Tucker

In the days of VHS tape, coaches often snapped the little write-protection tab on the upper left corner of the tape after a memorable game. That way, there was no chance of accidentally erasing the recording of a state title, a great win over a rival, or an outstanding performance.

If track meets were VHS tapes, then the Class 1-A/2-A West regional in Shoshoni most definitely deserves to be "write-protected."

It was the first high school culminating event on the Wrangler oval, and it was simply perfect. Activities director Max Mills. Mills was nearly impossible to find as he zipped from one venue to another constantly over the two days of competition, insuring that everything was perfect. It was.

Head custodian Bo Kasper had the facilities in top-notch condition, and myriad volunteers made the event more than memorable.

The hospitality room was spectacular, on par with the best efforts done at Wyoming Indian High School or by Riverton's Pam Rivers. In the words of Wyoming Indian head boys basketball coach Craig Ferris, who was working several events at the meet, the hospitality room was "on point."

Mistalyn Steffen and many others made sure the science classroom on the east end of the school was a welcoming place for coaches, officials and workers to take a few minutes away from the competition.

The competition is after all, the reason the meet was held in Wranglerville in the first place.

There were some interesting trivia tidbits during the meet. In the field events, the Class 1-A boys were clearly the better jumpers, paced by Dontae Garza of Burlington and Sam Schneider of Saratoga.

In a strange twist, the final three high jumpers in Class 1-A, who cleared 6-6, 6-4 and 6-2, respectively, all were left-handed -- or left-footed.

Even the weather cooperated in strange ways. On Saturday there were light winds or calm conditions until the Class 1-A girls completed the 100-meter finals. As the 2-A girls took their blocks, the wind built up to a blustery 15 mph right at the backs of the sprinters. Wind River's Mindy Russell broke the existing Class 2-A record easily, as did Western Heritage Lutheran Academy sophomore Kaden Dower a few minutes later in the 1-A 100-meter sprints.

To prove it was no fluke, Russell shattered the 200-meter record as well, and Dower also took home the gold just a few hundredths of a second under the regional mark.

The thrill of making it to the state meet was evident as Wind River junior Dennis Bousman pulled away from a Kemmerer runner down the home stretch of the 1600-meter run. Bousman took the placement stick from a meet official, saw the eight printed on it, and shouted "Yes!"

He had earned the final qualifying spot for state.

Track fans love to predict the final points of a meet and websites such as make that easier than ever before. But no website and no fan, never mind a coach, ever counts the points in the 4x100-meter relay or either of the hurdle races.

There is something incredibly difficult and challenging about running as fast as you can, throwing your leg up and sailing over 39-inch high hurdles in the case of high school boys or 33 inches for girls.The opportunity to crash in spectacular fashion exists on every stride.

It takes courage, agility and a bit of recklessness to be a championship caliber hurdler and there were several in Shoshoni on Friday and Saturday.

The 4x100-meter relay has boys and girls moving at terminal velocity trying to pass a narrow aluminum baton in a 66-foot exchange zone. Things can go bad quickly. There were three relays disqualified during the meet.

The Rocky Mountain girls entered the 4x100 with the fastest time in the region, but their baton went careening down the track after a muffed third exchange.

The Kemmerer boys, less than a second behind the Rocky Mountain boys in the sprint medley, false-started. That was that.

But one team's bad luck is another's blessing. Wyoming Indian had a solid 4x400-meter relay team, but an injury sidelined the Chiefs. Senior Jerry McGill wanted to run at state but they were short the same runner in the sprint medley. In true senior fashion McGill persuaded freshman Damond Shoyo to fill a leg, and the Chiefs finished third.

Shoshoni placed four boys in the top eight of the 800-meter run, virtually ensuring a regional title in the 4x800, but the lead runner cut a yard short of the cones and, once again, that was that. The Wranglers prequalified due to their top regular-season time, and they still will be at state as a favorite.

The best of many bests came on the final event in Class 2-A girls, where the Shoshoni and Wind River teams have battled all season in the 4x400-meter relay.

The Wranglers held the leadat the start of the final leg, but the Cougars have a serious hammer in Russell at anchor. She led the team to another come-from-behind win.

I hope to watch Russell, Lue Herbert, Abby Philleo and Savannah Arneach battle Ashley Steffen, Cheyenne Thompson, Kyauna Dearman and Riana Tidwell one more time for all the marbles next Saturday afternoon in Casper.

The girls exemplify what track is all about. Five of them joined together in a prayer before they ran the open 400 and immediately after the 4x400 was complete, they gathered together for hugs and congratulations before posing for a photo together.

Good things are happening in Shoshoni, and the construction of a new press box by Tim Thompson and his family is as good a sign as any. Thompson provided the materials and labor for what will be the best press box in all of Class 2-A in exchange for taking ownership the old school grounds that once held Bailey Field and Shoshoni High School.

Well done, Wranglers.

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