Despite the howling winds on Friday and the miserable conditions on Saturday, the Douglas girls track and field team made history last week at the Wyoming Track and Field Championships.
The Lady Cats won their seventh state title in program history, moving them into sole possession of the third most titles in school history behind only cross country and girls basketball, and claimed their first championship since 2005. Head coach Josiah Smith had a good idea of where his team could finish after the conclusion of the second day on Friday, but he knew the race to the finish line was far from decided.
“We were in the lead with 70 points and the team behind us had 43 at the end of Friday,” Smith pointed out. “I had an idea then but I still knew on Saturday that we had to go out and do our job and run well.”
Douglas was immediately boosted on Saturday with sophomore Kam Townsend’s third-place finish in the 100-meter. Later on, Townsend and Jenny Porter both finished in the top-five in the 400-meter, with Townsend taking gold with a time of 1:00.39. The Lady Cats were sitting in prime position.
The taste of victory began to settle in following the 200-meter race. Powell trailed Douglas in second and Smith knew that if one of the Lady Panthers’ runners finished third or worse in the finals, it was all over.
“After that race happened was when I could actually relax and breathe,” Smith said jokingly. “We ended up beating them by 9.5 points in the end.”
The Lady Cats were paced by Townsend, Porter and Allyson Fertig. Townsend nearly captured three golds in Casper, but settled for two. She took first in the 400-meter and long jump, and finished second in the high jump behind only state champion McKinley Bradshaw.
Townsend then duked it out with Megan Cornia of Lovell in the long jump, the championship coming down to the final two jumps. The Douglas sophomore trailed Cornia with just two attempts remaining and when it mattered most, she came through in the clutch. Townsend landed in the sand pit at 17 feet, 2.75 inches, ahead of Cornia by just .25 inches to take gold.
“(It) was fun but scary because I didn’t expect that close of competition,” Townsend admitted. “But it made me have to step up and really compete. After my first three jumps I was getting a little stressed that I wasn’t going to jump a good one because I felt like something was off.
“But I figured it out before finals and finally hit a big one that put me in the lead.”
Townsend was the favorite heading into the meet in the 400-meter and didn’t disappoint. On top of her two first-place finishes and second-place spot in the high jump, she also took third in the 100-meter. She proved to be a point scoring machine for the Lady Cats.
Fertig also persevered in Casper and took home gold in the shot put, outdualing Bradshaw in the shot put by more than two feet. Her winning toss measured at 41 feet, 8.75 inches. Fertig also took second in the discus with a throw of 125 feet, 8 inches. She finished runner-up to, you guessed it, Bradshaw.
“When I first hit 40 feet during the Douglas Twilight meet, I was so surprised that I threw that far,” Fertig recalled. “That was when I believed I could stand a chance at state.”
Along with Townsend and Fertig, Porter also finished All-State with her second-place finish in the 800-meter race. She finished with a time of 2:22, just four seconds behind Rawlins phenom Sydney Thorvaldson, who won the 800-meter, 1600-meter and 3200-meter in 3A.
“That first lap she was right on her heels,” Smith said of Porter’s ability to stay close with Thorvaldson. “Even when Sydney (Thorvaldson) started to pull away, she kept trucking away. She ran a really good race.”
Freshman Allison Olsen ran a tough race in the 800-meter and finished ninth with a time of 2:28.30. She also took 11th in the 1600-meter at 5:54.72. Along with Porter, Brynn Zwetzig and Kinley Johnson, the four girls teamed up to take third in the 4x800-meter relay for the Lady Cats.
Johnson finished tied for seventh in the high jump, successfully clearing a height of 4 feet, 8 inches. Behind Townsend in the long jump, Haedyn Rhoades took eighth with a leap of 15 feet, 10 inches. Four girls then finished in the top-12 for Douglas in the triple jump. Freshman Ava Tompkins led the way in fourth with a jump of 34 feet, 5.25 inches, while Stephanie Witbrod took sixth at 32 feet, 4.5 inches. Rhoades and Colson Webster-Viers finished 10th and 11th, respectively.
Riley Seeds just nearly missed earning All-State in the shot put, finishing third with a toss of 38 feet, 4 inches. Teammates Janie Dziardziel and Chloe Collins placed 11th and 15th, respectively. Seeds also took 12th in the discus throw.
“Our girls truly stepped up each day. We had girls who scored points in events that I hadn’t initially counted points for,” Smith said. “Haedyn (Rhoades) even taking a point in the long jump, Kinley (Johnson) scoring in the high jump, Ava (Tompkins) being able to PR by a foot and take fourth in the triple jump . . . it just seemed like all of the little things happened for us in the right manner.”
BROOKS, EWING PACE BOYS
Keltan Ewing’s coming out party this spring ended with two top-five finishes in Casper. The freshman took third in the pole vault, successfully clearing a height of 13 feet, and he finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 32.65.
Senior Brady Brooks also ended his track career on the right foot. He placed third in both the 800-meter and 1600-meter races. Teammate Kenyion Townsend finished behind him in seventh in the 800-meter and 15th in the 1600-meter. Cameryn Spence placed 14th and 16th, in the respective events.
Jayden Archuleta, Heath Hayes, Townsend and Brooks teamed up to take second in the 1600 sprint medley. Archuleta then took ninth in the triple jump with a leap of 40 feet, 1 inch. Sutton Perry and Kaden Bauersachs rounded out the state meet for the Bearcats in the high jump, finishing tied for third and tied for 10th, respectively.
With their top-two finishes in individual events, Townsend, Fertig and Porter each earned All-State honors to represent the Lady Cats.
“I preached to them throughout the season that every point counts and the proof was right there,” Smith said. “I was very pleased with how everyone performed and I couldn’t be happier right now.”