PINEDALE – Spring sports season wrapped up for Pinedale Middle School athletes at the Best of the Best Meet hosted by Lander on May 13.
Athletes returned home with multiple first- and second-place finishes and broke two school records. The running times and jump heights these young athletes achieved are remarkable and show promise of a bright future in track and field.
Eighth-grader Elyn Bowers powered through the competition to take first place in the girls’ 400-meter dash. Bowers clocked in at a little over 1 minute, 2 seconds, breaking a long-standing school record in place since 2000.
“It felt good getting first place, because it was a school record, so that was pretty cool,” Bowers said.
Before the final meet of the season, Bowers set her sights on shattering the record.
“At the last meet (before Lander), I ran a 1:04, and I thought, ‘I know I can get (the record),” she said. “So, I decided to try the event again."
The 400 meter is a tough race, not quite a sprint and not quite a distance event.
“It’s not my favorite, but I don’t hate it,” Bowers said.
Following the 400-meter, Bowers went on to take second place in the triple jump at the Best of the Best Meet.
Bowers thanked her coaches, Kendall Horrocks, Kyle Sullivan, Jonathan Fildey and Mike Davis. She singled out her father for “helping me practice more and get better at all my events.”
In addition to track, Bowers plays basketball and golf.
Eighth-graders Nicholas Sletten, Joey Bain and Oscar Huerta and seventh-grader Cale Dauwen broke the school record in the boys’ 4x200-meter relay set in 2017. The team took second place at the Best of the Best Meet, timing in at 1:48.11.
The team edged out the previous record by five-hundredths of a second.
“It was within the millisecond margin,” said Bain. “The paper (at the meet) only rounded to the 0.1 second, so we didn’t know our exact time and had to wait a day before we actually found out that we broke the record.”
The technique in handing the baton off to a teammate can make the difference, particularly when an event comes down to hundredths of a second. The 4x200 team practiced the maneuver every day before a meet was held, Sletten explained.
Each athlete on the relay team participated in other events this season and they gave a shoutout to their supporters.
“I want to thank all my coaches and my sister for helping me,” Dauwen said.
“I’d like to thank Coach Horrocks for helping me in the long jump this year,” Huerta added.
“I’d like to thank Coach Sullivan for helping me with my high jump and with our relays,” Bain said. “I also want to thank my brother for being encouraging me and helping with my track technique.”
“I’d like to thank Mr. Horrocks because he helped me get better at triple jump this season,” Sletten said.
The boys are all involved in other sports. Dauwen plays football, basketball and participates in wrestling. Heurta and Bain both play football and basketball in addition to track. Sletten was a member of the basketball team.
All four said they plan to pursue track in high school.
Megan Boulter, a seventh-grader, snapped up first place in the girls’ high jump at Lander. Clearing 4 feet, 8 inches, Boulter’s leap was a few inches shy from a high school state-qualifying height.
“It felt pretty good to get first place,” she said.
In terms of technique, Boulter said high jumpers “just have to be pretty flexible” to make it over the pole. Boulter also participated in the 100-meter hurdles and 4x100-meter relay during the season. Her favorite event is the high jump.
“I’d like to thank my sister because she’s helped me a lot and she has the (high school) record in the high jump right now,” Boulter said, in addition to crediting her track coaches.
Boulter plays volleyball in the fall.
Few athletes are willing to step up and try long-distance events.
“I like just like distance,” said eighth-grader Madison Antonino. “It’s more fun than sprinting – it’s easier.”
Antonino took second place in both the 1600 meter and 800 meter at the Best of the Best Meet. She clocked the 1600 meter in at 5:53.20 and the 800 meter at 2:41.39, impressive runs that would make her competitive at the high school level.
Her strategy in races is “to just go.”
Antonino runs indoor track and participates on the cross-country team.
“I’d like to thank my parents for coming to every meet and helping me get better,” she said, “And I’d like to thank my coaches.”