by nathan oster
Rainy and chilly weather prevented most athletes from performing at their peak, but that was of secondary concern at last weekend’s Class 2A West Regional, where everyone was looking for either a top-eight finish in an individual event or a top-four finish in a relay to qualify for this weekend’s Class State 2A Track and Field Championships in Casper.
By that measure, the weekend was an undeniable success for the Greybull Buffs, who saw their list of state qualifiers grow from four to 11 over the two rain-soaked days in Lander.
The new qualifiers included Brooke Flock, Monique Velasquez, Brittany Ogg on the girls side and Zack Keisel, Elian Davila, Gaven McColloch and Caleb Bottom in the boys division. They will join McKenzie Mazur, Kaylyn Burns, Shayla Cheatham and Sydney Tschiffely, all of whom AQ’d during the season, on the bus to Casper.
“Pretty good, considering we only had 14 kids on the team last year,” said assistant coach Nolan Tracy, who led the team in Lander. “And for this year, about half our team made it. We started the year with 25 to 27 kids, but at the end, we were down to about 20. So about half our team is going, which is great.”
Big Piney won the girls division and Lovell ran away with the title in the boys division.
The Greybull girls were fifth with 51 points, the Greybull boys eighth with 16.
McKenzie Mazur was the only regional champion, as the junior took first place in the high jump with a 4-foot, 10-inch clearance, tying her best effort of the season. She also placed second in the long jump, going 15-4 3/4, and fifth in the 200, finishing in 28.44 seconds.
Good thing the foursome of Mazur, Cheatham, Tschiffely and Burns posted an AQ time in their final tune-up for the regional because they didn’t have a good spin around the oval in Lander, placing fifth in a time of 56.07, nearly two seconds off their best time of the season.
Tracy said one of the nicest surprises of the meet was the performance of Greybull’s 1600-meter medley relay team. Consisting of three freshmen (Burns, Flock and Monique Velasquez) and a senior (Ogg), they qualified for state with a fourth-place finish, doing so in 4:53.01.
Burns was one of the standouts in Lander, said Tracy, noting that it’s rare for a freshman to qualify in four events. In addition to the two relays, she made it in the 100 (eighth place, 14.44 seconds) and 200 (eighth place, 28.94 seconds).
Flock, another freshman, qualified in two events, placing seventh in the 800 meters (2:37.36, a nearly 10 second improvement over her previous best) and fifth in the 1,600 meters (6:14.74).
Tschiffely , a junior, is also going to state in the long jump, where she placed seventh at the regional. She went 13 feet, 7 inches in the event.
Ogg qualified in the triple jump, going 29 feet, 9 inches.
Cheatham qualified in both throwing events. She was fifth in the shot put (31-4 1/2) and fifth in the discus (76-3). While neither was a personal best, those were hard to come by in the throws due to the poor conditions.
Velasquez is going to state as a member of the medley relay team, but she was poised to do so in the 400 as well until she fell late in the race and twisted her ankle. Tracy said that in addition to costing her in that race, the injury prevented her from being in top form the next morning in the triple jump. “She probably would have qualified in both events, had she not fallen,” he said.
In the boys division, all the state qualifiers are going in individual events after top-eight finishes at the regional.
Keisel, a junior, qualified in the 100 meters, finishing fifth in a time of 12.44 seconds, and also in the shot put, where he was seventh with a throw of 41-11.
Bottom is also going to state in two events, qualifying in the 100 meters (seventh, 12.29 seconds) and the long jump (fifth, 18-5 1/4).
Davila, a sophomore, broke through in the triple jump. He placed sixth with a personal-best jump of 38-8 1/2.
McColloch rose to the occasion in his first high school regional, shaving more than 12 seconds off his best time and placing eighth in the 3,200 meters. He nearly qualified in the 1,600 as well, finishing just out of the money in ninth with a time of 5:10.74.
The state meet will play out over the span of three days in Casper, starting today (Thursday, May 17) and ending Saturday. The whole season, the Buffs trained and prepared to be at their best for the regional.
“We had a few PRs, but with the conditions the way they were, there weren’t a lot of kids improving their times, distances or jumps,” said Tracy. “We’re hoping that at state, the weather allows them to set some PRs. There’s no question several kids will have opportunities to do so.”