All four Sanpete track teams achieve placements in top three

Manti freshman Sadie Nielson (No. 7) takes on the competition in the 1600-meter final for the 3A state championship last weekend. Nielsen finished just outside of scoring range for a ninth-place finish, but she coupled it with a seventh-place finish in the 3200-meter final.

KAYSVILLE—A total of 52 participants from Sanpete County competed for a state title last weekend, and they did not disappoint.

Gunnison Valley, Manti, North Sanpete and Wasatch Academy each performed well in the UHSAA Track and Field State Championships at Davis High School in Kaysville. The championship meet took place last Friday and Saturday, and all four teams placed in the top three in at least one event.

Gunnison Valley junior Jack Hansen clears the bar for a second-place finish in the high jump final. He and senior teammate Zach Stewart, who took second in the shot put, were the highest finishers in any event for Sanpete County’s athletes.

North Sanpete came seemingly out of nowhere for a solid finish as the boys finished ninth while the girls finished 11th. The team’s combined score gave them an eighth-place finish in a showing that even Coach Scott Butler was surprised by after a region outing that had him “blown away.”

“I hate to say that they surprised us by over performing,” Butler said. “They didn’t over perform. They finally just did what they were capable of, and the training that we had put into it came to fruition.”

Manti, under the direction of Coach Jack Rapier, finished 15th in the boys’ standings, while the girls tied for eighth with San Juan. Their combined score resulted in a 12th place finish.

“We’ve come through with a lot of good experiences, and we’ve had a lot of fun,” Rapier said. “The seniors have gone out doing well, and the underclassmen are learning a lot.”

Gunnison had a somewhat lower finish in the standings. Both boys and girls finished 14th in the standings, and the team combined for a 14th place finish overall. For first-year Coach Tyler Moosman, it was a sign of momentum.

“We’ve had 18 kids actually make it to state this year and be able to compete,” Moosman said. “We’re a really young team, over 50 percent of our team is freshmen this year, which is a good problem to have going forward.”

Wasatch Academy only brought two runners to the meet, but thanks to stellar efforts by star senior runner Chris Korir, the Tigers finished 15th in the boys standings.

Manti senior Tyson Brenchley crosses the finish line with the baton as the anchor in the 4×100-meter relay. Manti boys finished 10th in the relay final with a time of 46.77 seconds.

As far as top-3 finishes go for North Sanpete, junior Morgan Bowles took third place in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 41.16 seconds, vastly outdoing his qualifying time of 43.31 seconds. Junior Andy Mower outdid himself in the high jump final, clearing 6’0” for a third-place finish.

In another impressive run, young freshman Mari Briggs showed loads of potential with a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter final with a time of 2:27.34, finishing behind three seniors, and edging out another senior from Union by less than a half-second.

For Manti, freshman Lacie Christensen was solid in the discus final, finishing in third place with a throw of 31.88 meters, outdoing fourth place by a mere six inches. As a team, girls discus was the prime event for the Templars, as Christensen was accompanied in the top eight by senior Breana Barson (seventh) and junior Jasmin Murillo (eighth).

Gunnison’s scoring events were severely impeded by an unexpected event when star senior Zach Stewart injured his hamstring during the 100-meter heats. Stewart finished dead-last in the heat and didn’t qualify for the final.

Stewart still earned plenty of points for the Bulldogs as he heaved the shot put into a second-place finish with a throw of 13.32 meters. Additionally, junior Jack Hansen was Gunnison’s other big-time scorer with a second-place finish in the high jump final. Hansen cleared 6’0” for the silver medal.

For Wasatch Academy, Korir was the lone Sanpete representative to place third or better in multiple events. After finishing in the initial 400-meter heat to qualify for state, Korir was unfortunately eclipsed by a couple of runners that beat their own heat times by over a second each, and he finished third with a time of 52.13 seconds. Later that day, he went on to finish third in the 800-meter final with a time of 2:04.62.

For each event, only the top eight finishers in the final earned any points for their team. In total, North Sanpete had 12 scoring finishes, compared to 11 for Manti, six for Gunnison Valley, and two for Wasatch Academy.

North Sanpete freshman Journey Toomey anchored the Hawks 4×100-meter relay team for this photo finish in the first section of the finals. The relay team’s time of 54.08 seconds was good enough for seventh place.