by nathan oster
The Greybull Buffs scored only 11 ½ points, combined, in the boys and girls divisions at the State 2A Track and Field Championships, but still managed to leave Casper with some achievements to celebrate.
All three senior qualifiers placed in their final prep meets — Sydney Eckman, as the only non-freshman on the fourth-place finishing 400-meter relay team; Florina Villegas, who was sixth in the shot put; and Aftin DeRosa, who went out with an eighth-place finish in the long jump.
Coach Jeff Sukut said he anticipated a middle of the pack finish — and that’s what he got. The 11 ½ points scored by the girls were good for 13th place. Big Horn, with 136.4 points, won the 2A crown, followed by Big Piney with 85.5 and Lyman with 63.
The Greybull boys were shut out of the scoring column. Pine Bluffs, with 88 points, nipped Thermopolis with 83 and Rocky Mountain with 67 for the 2A boys crown.
The 400-meter relay team of Eckman, Brea Terry, Sydney Tschiffely and McKenzie Mazur turned in Greybull’s top finish. They ended the season in peak form, posting their fastest time, 53.31 seconds, in the finals. They’d run a 54.23 in the prelims. Their best time going into Casper had been a 54.04. A 50.11, run by Big Horn, took the race. Pine Bluffs was second with a 52.35 and Rocky Mountain third with a 53.15.
“A good way for the girls to finish,” said Coach Jeff Sukut. “They ran a good race; their handoffs were really good.”
Another freshman sprinter, Bailee Foster, went to Casper as an alternate due to concerns about Sydney Eckman’s quad injury; she’s in line to replace Eckman on that relay team next year, said Sukut.
Eckman’s state meet also included a 15th-place finish in the 200 meters (in a personal best 29.01), a ninth-place finish in the 400 meters (1:05.18) and a 15th place finish in the 800 meters (2:41.18).
Villegas uncorked “one of her better throws of the year” in the shot put, placing sixth with a heave of 34 feet. The top throw was 38-0 1/2, turned in by Amy Ogle of Kemmerer.
After not going out as a sophomore or junior, Villegas was a welcome addition to this year’s team, according to Sukut. “We don’t usually have a lot of girls in throwing events, let alone ones who make it to state,” he said. “She’ll be missed.”
And DeRosa capped her prep career with a solid effort in the long jump. She leaped 15 feet, 1 ½ inches — “one of her best jumps of the year,” said Sukut.
“It was a good way for all of our seniors to go out,” he added. “Especially Aftin and Syd, who were with me for all four years. They’re tough competitors and wonderful young ladies who were dedicated to our track program. I’m glad they finished it out in a such a positive way.”
In the rest of the state results, Sukut can find a lot of silver linings. His underclassmen made solid strides this season.
Cade Dooley, the only GHS boy to qualify, didn’t place in either the shot put or the high jump.
He was a surprise qualifier in the shot put, as he hadn’t competed in the event all year before entering and placing at the regional meet. His throw of 39 feet, 4 inches was a shade off his qualifying effort in Lander (40-3 ¾).
His other event, the high jump, was one of the more loaded ones in the 2A field. Dooley jumped 5-8, a bit off his season-best effort of 5-9. Dylan Roberts of Riverside won it, clearing 6-6.
Sukut said he expects Dooley to lead the way next year for the boys squad, adding that the shot put will become one of his primary events.
On the girls’ side, Sukut got some outstanding efforts from his underclassmen.
Brea Terry, a freshman, made finals in the 100 meters thanks to a personal-best 13.66 in the prelims, but a false start in the final cost her a medal. “Kind of a bitter pill for her to swallow,” said Sukut. “Chalk it up as a learning experience for the youngster.”
Terry also ran the 800, finishing 11th in 2:34.50. Both her time and that of her teammate, Sydney Eckman, were slower than the ones they’d been posting late in the season. “There were 17 girls on the track and they kind of got boxed in a little bit,” said the coach.
Terry placed 12th in her other event, the triple jump. She leaped 31-1, which was “one of her best efforts of the year,” said Sukut.
Mazur, also a freshman, had a strong state debut as well. She was seventh in the 200 meters with a time of 28.2, a shade slower than the 27.57 she ran in prelims. A 25.9 posted by Bailey Bird of Big Horn took the event. Mazur was also eighth in the high jump (4-8) and ninth in the long jump (14-11).
“To win three medals is pretty good for a freshman girl,” said Sukut. “Generally freshmen don’t win a lot. But she’s a hard-working kid who is only going to get better.”
Brittany Ogg, the team’s other qualifier, took 15th in the triple jump with a 30-foot leap. It was an event dominated by Big Horn, which saw its girls placed first, second, third, fifth and eighth.
Sukut said his hope is that all of his underclassmen are fueled by their experiences at state and become the core of next year’s team. “Hopefully we’ll get a few more out, too,” he said. “You look at other schools the same size as us that get a lot more kids to go out. You need numbers, competitors scoring points in all the events, to do well. We’ve been lacking that for several years now.”