Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
Everywhere you look at the Brigham Young University track this week, elite athletes are in position to topple some of the state’s all-time records. Some of these runners already own either state or individual classification top marks, but even where records are not within reach, the level of competition should be exciting, beginning with Friday’s 3,200-meter finals.
Here are some of the athletes on whom we will have our eyes as the state track and field championships unfold Friday and Saturday.
Provo’s Chase Heiner is one of the headliners in the sprint events. He set the state record in the 200 meter with a 21.35 earlier this season, and he is the rare runner who is a favorite in Class 4A at all three sprint distances – 100, 200 and 400. Nick Ashby of Orem should be the primary challenger in the 200 and 400, while there are a number of speedy competitors looking for the 4A 100 crown, including Logan’s Chad Artist, Riley Burt of Box Elder and Junior Tovar from Orem.
In the 5A boys sprints, Herriman’s Dallin Tycksen and Skyler Andam from Copper Hills figure to be out in front in both the 100 and 200, with Daunte Atkinson of Syracuse also a major threat at 200 meters. Atkinson and his teammate Hunter Woodhall may make it a 1-2 sweep for the Titans in the 5A 400.
In the other classifications, Zayne Anderson of Stansbury is the favorite in the 3A 100 and 200, while South Summit’s Isaac Tillett and Mac Morley of San Juan are two of the top 2A sprint competitors.
When it comes to the girls’ sprints, there are a few names we should expect to hear over and over again as the winners are called to the podium. Chief among those is junior Kaysha Love of Herriman, who has never lost a 100 or 200 state championship race. Freshman Emily Ellis from Lone Peak has burst onto the scene as a top 400-meter runner, and she may also push Love a bit in the 200.
Haley Stafford of Woods Cross, Josie Ball from Box Elder and Lauren Rawlinson of Sky View are all among the top 4A sprinters, but many of the state’s fastest female runners come from the smallest schools.
The 2A 100 and 200 should be a ton of fun, as Jaslyn Gardner of Enterprise, Emery’s Ashlyn Allred and Elsja Mecham from Summit Academy go head-to-head. Bear River’s Whitney Wilcox could be the class of 3A in the sprints.
As usual in a big track meet, the relays will generate a lot of excitement. The Orem boys 4 x 100 relay unit set a new state record of 41.46 at the recent BYU Invitational on this same track, but the most competitive run should be the 5A 4 x 100, which features five teams – Herriman, Lone Peak, Copper Hills, Syracuse and Davis – who could surge to a state championship.
On the girls side, it’s the 4A 4×100 that features a multi-team chase to the tape. Orem, Salem Hills, Springville and Sky View have all turned in some fast times this year, and depending who’s on that day, any of them could win this. In 5A, it should come down to Herriman vs. Davis.
Mecham not only excels in the straight sprints, but she should dominate Class 2A when it comes time to put the hurdles on the track. She has the best 300-meter hurdle time in the state this season and also runs extremely well in the 100 hurdles.
Olivia Leavitt of Desert Hills may be the best hurdler in the state at both distances, and she is the favorite to claim the titles in 3A.
Class 5A features the most competitive field, with McKayla Thomas leading the way in the 100-meter hurdles. Thomas set a new 5A state record earlier this year, but there are plenty of suitors for that championship, including Cidnee Davies of Syracuse and Alyssa Hirschi from Brighton. Ariana Williams from Hillcrest has the best 5A time so far this year in the longer 300-meter hurdles, while Ogden’s Lindsey Yetter has the top 4A 100 hurdles time of the season.
Conner Mantz of Sky View has his eye on the state record book as he completes his storied high school career this weekend. He is certainly the favorite to win titles in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Josh Collins of Wasatch won the 4A state cross country championship over Mantz, and the Bobcat senior will be trying to make sure that does not repeat itself on the track. Garek Bielaczyz of East is another runner who could be in the mix, particularly in the 1,600.
American Fork, as usual, is at the center of the story in the 5A boys distance events, with McKay Johns and Casey Clinger leading the way.
Lucy Biles of Herriman is another senior distance runner looking to go out on a high note as she chases records in the 5A girls distance races. Josey Hedquist from Davis will challenge in the 800, while the Darts’ Aubrey Argyle is a threat in the 1,600 and 3.200, along with Sarah Musselman of American Fork.
The 4A distance races figure to be very interesting, as sophomore state cross country champion Kate Hunter of Provo looks to hold off a trio of runners from Maple Mountain. Elli Eastmond, Maddie Ball and Britney Lund all have a chance, at the different distances, to reach to the top step of the podium.
Anna Camp of Millard is a crossover runner, starring in 2A in both the 400 and 800-meter races. The 3A girls distance races should feature some excitement as Juab’s Kashley Carter battles with 800 specialist Angela Clayton of North Sanpete in that race, while facing off with Alyssa Snyder from Park City in the others.
While most eyes are focused on the track, the field events will also provide some exciting moments this weekend.
Abby Taylor and Leavitt from Desert Hills will face off in the 3A long jump, while Sophie Hartline enters the 4A competition as the favorite and Brighton’s Alyssa Hirschi appears to be the front-runner in the 5A long jump.
Paige Erickson of Davis has pole vaulted 10-feet, 8.5 inches this year already, and that is just 1/2-inch off the state record. Elsewhere on the field, Chrissy Glasmann of Park City is the one to watch in the girls javelin, while Maia Garren from Logan is a top performer with both the shot put and discus. The 5A shot put competition should come down to a battle between Herriman teammates Amarissa Hawker and Sierra Freeland.
Matt Calvin from Davis set this year’s pole vault standard at the BYU Invitational a couple of weeks ago, when he went back and forth with Austin Jimenez of Northridge. Those two should face off with Viewmont’s Jacob Watts in that event. Jaydon Lord from Weber and Herriman’s Andre James are two to watch in the boys throwing events.
Tregan Deveraux of Orem in 4A and Chandler Swaney from Desert Hills (3A) come in as the favorites in the high jump for those classifications, while Andam has been the most impressive long jumper in the state so far this year.