Soaring high for state titles: Track loaded with top talent

rroberts@idahostatesman.comMay 15, 2014 

The state track and field meets will be contested Friday and Saturday at Dona Larsen Park (5A/4A) in Boise and Middleton High (3A/2A/1A). Here are some of the top athletes to keep an eye on from the 4A classification on down (coming Friday in the Idaho Statesman is a 5A preview):

RIGBY'S GOLDEN GIRLHAS NEW CHALLENGE

Elsja Mecham won the 100 hurdles, 200, 400 and anchored Rigby's winning 4x400 relay last year.

In her sophomore campaign, Mecham has decided to swap out two events, trading the 200 and 400 relay for the 300 hurdles and 800 sprint medley.

Mecham owns the top times in the state among all classifications in the 200 (25.44 seconds), 400 (56.49), 100 hurdles (14.72) and 300 hurdles (42.56), according to athletic.net.

Her 300 hurdles time is good enough to break the overall state meet record of 43.40, set by Coeur d'Alene's Morgan Struble in 2011. Mecham already owns the 4A record in the 100 hurdles at 14.66. She also is a threat to surpass the 4A record in the 400 (56.45).

The Trojans are the defending state champions.

BOYS 100, 200 IS ANYONE'S RACE?

Seven of the eight spots in each of last year's 100 and 200 finals were occupied by seniors, assuring the 2013-14 title will go to new blood.

Skyview senior Hagen Graves - who won both races at the 4A District Three meet - has the best seeded times at 10.97 in the 100 and 22.35 in the 200. Graves was the 3A state champion in both events last year when he attended Fruitland.

Skyview's Jaxon Pryor was the only junior in last year's 100 (seventh) and Kuna's Reed Ericson in the 200 (seventh). Both are entered in those respective races again this season.

RETURNING CHAMPIONS

In addition to Mecham's impressive sweep at the 2013 meet, here are the other returning individual champions in the field:

• Columbia senior Rhianna Birch swept the girls 100 and 200 at last week's 4A District Three meet, and is the defending state champion in the 100. With Mecham dropping the 200 this year, Birch is the favorite to win after finishing second last season.

• Bishop Kelly junior Mikaela Sawyer set a classification record in the girls 300 hurdles last year, winning in 44.10 seconds. Sawyer missed three weeks of the season with a quad injury, but returned in time to win the district title last week.

• Rigby senior Eliza Shippen cleared 11 feet, 6 inches to win the girls pole vault last season. Her best this year is 11-10, which ranks first among all classifications.

• Bishop Kelly junior Maddie Minnaert set a classification record in the girls long jump with a mark of 18-10.5 last season. Minnaert finished second at the district meet to Birch with a jump that was more than a foot shy of her winning jump at state.

• Sandpoint senior Nikole Alamillo won the girls discus with a throw of 119-01 last year, but enters state with six competitors ahead of her. Skyview's Leah Bonner is the No. 1 seed with her distance of 127-08.

• Ericson hopes to defend his title in the boys 400, and could break a classification record in the process. His season-best is 49.68 and the class record is 49.20, set by Vallivue's Kyle Christoffersen in 2005.

• Daniel Garz of Emmett won the boys 800 last year, but is entered in the 400 this season.

• Pocatello junior Elijah Armstrong won the 1,600 and 3,200 last year, but isn't the top seed in either race heading into this year's finals. Armstrong owns the class record in the 1,600 (4:15.35) and was one spot shy of sweeping the distance races after a second-place finish in the 800.

• Hurdle expert Brooks Ney of Caldwell is in position to take both races as a senior. Ney is a threat to top the class record in the 110 hurdles. His best this year is 14.60 and the record is 14.56.

OTHER RECORDS IN JEOPARDY

• The Bishop Kelly girls held the 4x100 relay classification record in 2012 (49.69), but Rigby broke it last season (49.63). The Knights could get it back this year. They are the top seed at 49.68.

• Kuna's qualifying time of 3:31.38 in the boys 1,600 sprint medley is already ahead of the class record of 3:32.26 set by Bishop Kelly in 2007.

PARMA SENIOR EYES HURDLE FOUR-PEAT

Chelsey Knott has a chance to win four straight 3A titles in the girls 100 hurdles. Knott is the reigning champion in the 300 hurdles and 200. She set the classification record in the 100 hurdles last year at 14.51.

CHALLIS JUNIOR HAS SPEED TO SPARE

At one point this season, Hannah Cain had the top times among all divisions in the girls 100 and 200, according to athletic.net. Cain, who competes in the state's smallest classification, is favored to win state in the 100 (12.43), 200 (25.76) and 400 (59.54). She won the 200 last season and the 400 as a freshman. She has yet to sweep all three races in the same season.

LOGOS JUNIOR AIMS FOR DISTANCE SWEEP

Paul Ryan, the reigning 1A state champion in the boys 3,200, is seeded first in the 800 (1:56.20), 1,600 (4:19.82) and 3,200 (9:09.93). He also ranks among the fastest in the state in all three events and his times are good enough to establish classification records.

TRI-VALLEY THROWER COMING ON STRONG

Senior Hillary Hollon ranks among the top five in the state in the girls shot put and discus, despite competing in the state's smallest classification. Hollon's best of 133-10 in the discus is second only to 5A contender Claire Otero of Vallivue. Her long of 39-1.25 in the shot is fifth behind a quartet of 5A athletes. Hollon finished second at state last season in the shot put and third in the discus.

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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