SHERIDAN — The Big Horn boys track and field team will enter the state meet with some momentum.
The Rams claimed the 2A East regional championship in Torrington this past weekend, and head coach Kirk McLaughlin hopes that success translates to Casper for the state meet, where 14 of his Rams will compete.
“I was overwhelmingly proud of them,” McLaughlin said. “… We had to click on just about all cylinders, I thought, going into the regional meet to get a regional championship. The boys did awesome.
“… A lot of it (this time of year) is mental training to make sure we’ve got the right mindset, that we’re confident in what we’re doing, and I think the rest will take care of itself.”
Liam Greenelsh will lead the charge for the Rams as he has the fastest 110-meter hurdles time in the state — the only one under the 16-second threshold. Greenelsh is also slated to throw his hat into the jumping events where he’s seeded third in both the long and triple jumps.
Teammate Will Pelissier claims a spot just ahead of Greenelsh in the long jump with the second-best mark, and Kade VanDyken is also seeded second in the high jump.
Carson Bates, who will run in his first state meet as a freshman, owns the quickest seed time in the 200-meter dash, and Kyler Ostler lays claim to the second-best entry time in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles.
The Lady Rams will return to Casper attempting to win their fourth straight state title.
The Big Horn girls track and field team finished fifth at the 2A East regional meet, and McLaughlin expects to see more personal bests out of his girls come Thursday as the Lady Rams are in full-on taper mode.
“We make all our plans around state,” McLaughlin said. “We definitely backed off for regional week and even a little bit the week before just to get ready for these last two weeks. Everything is centered around state. All of our training plans are to peak and be at our freshest, so to speak, for the state meet.”
Alannah Gee will lead a contingent of a dozen Lady Rams who will look to score points with depth. Only Gee is seeded in the top five individually, heading to Casper with the third-best mark in the pole vault and the fifth-best mark in the long jump.
Tongue River’s Courtney Good owns the third-best discus throw ahead of the state meet. Good paces the Lady Eagles, who have seven student-athletes making the trek down to Casper.
Reagan Mullaney will get looked upon to score points in the field for TR, as well, as she’s seeded fourth in the long jump.
TR’s Cooper Vollmer is one of just two Eagles making the trip to Casper. He will look to build on his regional meet where he won the 1,600-meter run. Vollmer boasts the third-fastest time in the mile and the third-best mark in the high jump.
TR head coach Steve Hanson believes both of his top athletes on the boys and girls sides can compete for state titles.
“I think it’s just going to come down to the day and who’s mentally ready and who’s ready to compete,” Hanson said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that on the right day Cooper can definitely win that mile race. He’s raced against all those top runners earlier in the season. Nobody is going to surprise him.
“… Courtney, she’s thrown against all those top girls before and on her best day she can throw right with them.”
Arvada-Clearmont track and field head coach Ross Walker enjoyed seeing some of his runners, jumpers and throwers that had not already qualified to state embody a survive-and-advance mentality at the 1A East regional meet in Torrington.
“I told our kids that they needed to go and compete to make sure they gave themselves another chance to compete again and extend their season another week,” Walker said. “I’m super pleased with how our kids competed, and we are really going to focus on how we can get the best out of our state meet.”
McKenna Auzqui captains the small contingent of eight athletes from Arvada-Clearmont that punched tickets to the state meet. Auzqui topped the field at the regional meet in discus and is seeded fifth overall in the state.
On the boys side, Riley Malli owns the fourth- and sixth-best marks in the discus and shot put, respectively.
The state meet begins with the 3,200-meter run Thursday at 11 a.m. at Kelly Walsh High School.