SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School indoor track and field teams have switched roles this season. Where last year the Lady Broncs were the hunted, the Broncs have assumed the odds-on-favorite role, and where the boys team ran with an underdog’s mentality last season, the girls have embodied those characteristics this year.
The Broncs had a strong notion before the season even started that they’d contend for a state title. With key athletes coming back, and an infusion of a couple more high-caliber athletes, the boys team had all the makings of a squad that would contend at most, if not all, meets.
Sheridan hasn’t just fulfilled those preseason expectations, but surpassed them in many regards.
“(Being the hunted) is always a nice territory to be in,” Sheridan head coach Taylor Kelting said. “… This has been one of their goals, not only this year, but throughout their careers. So they are really looking to finish this the right way.”
The Broncs have gone a perfect 4-0 in Wyoming-based invitationals this season, and they’ve also contended at the national level. The 800-meter relay team — of Alec Riegert, Matt Roma, Cody Milmine and Marc Wodahl — set a new school record, clocking in at 1 minute, 30.66 seconds, placing first at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho, alongside teams from all over the western United States.
While all that success has raised expectations, the Broncs don’t solely focus on that. They simply walk up to the starting blocks with the same singular focus every meet.
“We just go out there to compete and have fun and try to win,” Riegert said. “… I mean there’s always pressure in track, but I’d say there’s added pressure this season, for sure.”
Sheridan — which finished fourth as a team at state last season — is chasing its first state title since 2010 and the second in school history. The Broncs have shown few, if any, chinks in their armor this year and will hope for the resounding exclamation point they’ve worked tirelessly for this season.
“[A state championship] would be super big for not only the program but also the school in general,” Riegert said.
The Lady Broncs finished third at state last year and had five runners earn All-State designation. Only two of those five — Piper Carroll and Tamaelle Lawson — returned this season, meaning Sheridan has had to go about filling those voids by committee. And that’s galvanized the squad.
“We haven’t had as many very-special athletes like we have had in the past, but we’ve had a very cohesive team,” Sheridan’s Rachel Petersburg said. “We’ve had a lot of members that have really stepped up, which is fresh compared to how it has been the last couple years. I think it gives us a little bit of an edge.”
The Lady Broncs are fresh off winning their own meet last week, 50 points clear of the field. The final regular-season meet provided further proof of the improvement the team has made throughout the year.
“We’ve gotten better each week, looking at personal bests,” Kelting said. “We have 20-25 personal bests each week, and that’s all you can do — that’s the best you can possibly can do.”
Preliminaries for the state meet begin Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Campbell County Recreation Center Field House. Finals start Saturday at 9 a.m.