The Grand County High School Red Devils placed second in 3A boys track and field, and third in 3A girls track and field at the UHSAA Utah State Track and Field Championships, which took place Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, at Brigham Young University in Provo.
Morgan scored 96.5 points to edge Grand County High School’s 89 in the boys division, while Delta placed first in the girls division with 94 points, followed by Juab’s 89 and GCHS's 65.
In the boys division, the Grand County High School (GCHS) Red Devils won five of 16 events. Eli Hazlett won the 400-meter race at 48.39, and Connor Guerrero won the 300-meter hurdles at 39.79. Hazlett and Guerrero also joined Stacy Randall and Corbin Arbon to take first in the 4x100-meter relay at 43.90. In field events, Carlin Bierschied won the shot put at 44 feet, 4.25 inches, and freshman Sage Stroder won the discus at 132 feet, 3.25 inches.
Despite winning five events, the Red Devils couldn’t overcome the depth of the Morgan Trojans, who didn’t win a single event, but scored points in almost all of them, similar to the way GCHS won the state title in 2018.
“That goes to show you how important depth is to your team score,” coach Dennis Wells said.
Wells said that the opportunity was there for GCHS to score enough points to repeat as state champions, but a couple of mishaps cost GCHS the title. In the high jump, about half of the field, including GCHS Red Devils Teddy Park and Jayden Dowd, didn’t record a mark, thus coming away with no points. The championship jump was 6 feet even, a mark that Park had previously recorded in several meets this season.
“I think they could have waited five or ten minutes to start the high jump,” Wells said. “They had the event in a hail storm and half the jumpers didn’t even clear the first height.”
The GCHS Red Devils were also disqualified in the medley relay for passing the baton a split second too soon. Their time would have been good for fourth place in the event, scoring the team an additional six points,
In addition to winning five events, the GCHS Red Devils also had a handful of other top-eight finishes. Hazlett finished second in both the 100-meter race (11.30) and the 200-meter race (22.57). Guerrero placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (15.98) and eighth in the 200-meter race (23.75).
There was some controversy at the end of the 200-meter race as Hazlett and the runner who took first were placed in the wrong lanes by the officials at the starting line. Track and field rules state that runners that finish in the wrong lanes as designated by the heat sheet are automatically disqualified.
After coaches from both Grand and Emery protested in writing, and other coaches came to their defense, including the Morgan coach whose meet win could have been determined by the two top runners being disqualified, the racers were reinstated.
The boys also got contributions from Evan Ellison, who placed fifth in both the 1600-meter race (4:39.25) and 3200-meter race (10:05.34), with Malachi Ricks close behind him in the 3200 in sixth place (10:17.92).
The weather during this race was blinding sleet which made the times slower than their best. The boys 4x400-meter group of Kaine Allred, Ryelan Jones, Arbon and Randall finished fifth at 3:32.56, and in the field, Jarom Shumway placed fifth in the discus at 120 feet, 7.5 inches.
In the girls division, GCHS also got five individual wins, as Kylah Ricks won all three of her events, placing first in the 3200-meter race (11:46.71), 1600-meters (5:23.28), and 800-meters (2:22.49).
Veda Gritts also brought home gold in two events with a 38.5-foot shot put throw and a 120 feet, 3.25-inch javelin throw, shattering her own school record. Gritts also took third in the discus at 100 feet, 11.75 inches.
The girls team also got a third-place finish in the medley at 4:33.40 from Emree Olsen, Annabelle Garrett, Auburn Jackman and Kylah Ricks, as well as a sixth-place finish from Morgan Lewis in the high jump (4 feet, 11 inches), and an eighth-place finish in the 4x400-meter race from Jessica Anderson, Jackman, Lewis and Olsen
Wells said GCHS’s athletes were at their best at the state championship meet, noting personal best performances, despite the weather, from Guerrero in both hurdle events, Hazlett in the 100-meters, and Gritts in both the shot put and javelin.
“We have great athletes on our team that are fun to watch,” he said. “Both boys and girls had a great season and I’m looking forward to next year.”
Nicki Hazlett contributed to this story.