Varsity Extra

Varsity Extra: This year’s field loaded with track favorites

Seventeen records were set at last year’s 5A/4A state track and field meets, and many of those top athletes are back to defend their titles. Competition begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Dona Larsen Park and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday. Here is a look at the top returners:

5A boys

• Mountain View senior Bryce Kirby — the state leader in the 100 meters (10.57) and 200 (21.63) — returns to defend his win in the 200. His speed in the 100 has greatly improved from last season, when he ran a 10.89 to finish second. The Boise State signee was explosive out of the blocks at the District Three meet last week and is a favorite to win both events at state.



• Lewiston senior Zion Stuffle is the only other individual returning champion among the 5A boys. He won the 110 hurdles in 14.12 (wind aided) in 2014, but does not have the top time among this year’s entries. That honor goes to Capital junior Sam Brixey (14.25), who took third at state a year ago.



• Keep an eye on Rocky Mountain junior Michael Slagowski, who will attempt to follow his district sweep of the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 with three more wins at state. His season bests in all three events are good enough to make him a threat to establish meet records, and he is seeded first in each race.



5A GIRLS

This year’s field features returning champions in nine events, including two athletes who won multiple events in 2014.

• Washington-bound Emily Hamlin of Boise dominated the 2014 distance races, setting overall records in the 800 (2:13.23) and 1,600 (4:55.06), and a classification record in the 3,200 (10.47.02). The senior is the two-time defending champion in the 800 and a clear threat to break her own state records.



• Last year’s hurdle winners are back — Coeur d’Alene senior Kaitlyn Gunnerson in the 100 and Centennial junior Tatyana Jones in the 300.



• The discus will be competitive with a field that includes 2013 champion Nicole White of Capital and 2014 champion Brooklyn Daylong of Vallivue. Both are seniors.



• Lake City senior Maddison Ward won the 100 (12.21) and 200 (24.82) last year and owns the top time in the 100 again this season at 12.26. Ward will be challenged in the 200, where she is the two-time defending champion, by Boise’s Madison Lung — last year’s runner-up and the reigning champion and classification record holder in the 400. Also in the field are Centennial’s Robynn Koetter (third in 2014), Eagle’s Kolbi Sims (fourth) and Vallivue’s Jenny Cox (sixth). Lung ran a state-leading 25.12 in the 200 to win the 5A District Three meet last week.



• The 400 is stacking up to be a close race with the potential to establish a meet record for the second year in a row. Lung is the favorite, but last year’s second- and third-place finishers are back, along with 2013 champion Kaylee Oyler of Rocky Mountain. Coeur d’Alene’s Victoria Goetz leads the state with a 56.30, and District Three runner-up Loren Cantrill has the second-fastest time at 56.90. Lung’s classification record is 56.07, and the overall record is 55.98.



4A BOYS

• The Treasure Valley returns two winners from 2014 in Kuna’s Mikhail Kidd (400) and Caldwell’s Max Weitz (high jump).



• Four-time individual state cross country champion Elijah Armstrong closes out his high school career with a shot at winning four straight 1,600s and three 3,200s in a row. He also won the 800 last season. Armstrong, a Boise State signee, owns overall state meet records in the 1,600 (4:09.04) and 3,200 (9:00.73).



• Minico senior Josh Barclay established an overall record in the shot put last season with his throw of 64 feet, 9 inches. He also won the discus and is favored to repeat in both events.



4A GIRLS

• Princeton-bound Mikaela Sawyer of Bishop Kelly is a favorite in the hurdling events. She won the 300 hurdles in 2013, was second last year and also has the top time in the 100 hurdles (14.65) after finishing second a year ago. Sawyer also qualified in the 100 open and is tied for the third fastest time in the event this season (10.34).



• Another Bishop Kelly athlete looking to return to the top of the podium is senior Maddie Minnaert. She won the long jump in 2013 with a classification record leap of 18-10.50. She enters state as a the No. 1 seed (18-05.25).



• Pocatello junior Rachel McGovern will have her hands full attempting a repeat in the 1,600. She is seeded fifth, and last year’s top four runners are all back.



• Blackfoot senior Rachel Cannon — also a contender in the 1,600 — is seeded first in the 3,200 with a chance to win back-to-back titles.



• Rounding out the field of returning champions are Rigby junior Sierra Anderson (high jump) and Caldwell senior Saidee Jones (shot put).



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