Coach Jackie Jones and the Hanna-Elk Mountain-Medicine Bow High School (HEM) track team got 20 miles outside Rawlins before discovering the Big Piney Track Invitational was canceled due to weather in the western part of the state.
“It is the risk you take,” Jones said when she decides which invitations to accept. She does like to mix it up for her team when it comes to meets, so the track team gets exposure to many athletes in the state.
“Big Piney is a quality meet where people there take care of the athletes–so the team was disappointed it got canceled,” said Coach Jones, who has been training teams from HEM close to 20 years. Her assistant coach also happens to be her husband, Cliff Jones.
“I focus on running, hurdling and relays. Cliff concentrates on field events,” explained Coach Jackie Jones about the delineation of how the team is managed.
“Over the years, (Cliff) has had some All State athletes. We feel very fortunate, track is one of HEM’s most successful sports programs throughout the years.”
Coach Jackie Jones says the Miners track team’s favorable outcomes is due to the kids that come out and practice in the unstable Wyoming weather. She is hopeful the Rawlins Invitational will not be hindered by inclement weather this Friday. Most Carbon County track teams are expected at the event.
“There is a lot to be said about our small schools and the quality of kids we have,” said the head coach talking about the Carbon County schools. “Track is a unique sport in that you have more downtime and get to know the other competitors and coaches.”
She is pleased with her team’s potential this year,
Her senior girls are Cheyenne Tomkins and Cheyenne Hunter.
Tomkins, who tore her ACL last year and re-injured it in practice this year, is still running events.
“She may not be able to jump this season, for which she has been All State, but she is a tremendous all-around athlete,” said Coach Jackie Jones.
Hunter is the top returning thrower in the shot put and discus and is a mentor to the younger girls said Coach Jackie Jones.
McKenzie Finn, a sophomore, is also a returning shot put and discus competitor who is a hopeful to do well.
There are no juniors on the girl’s track team, but the sophomore class has strong mid-distance runners in Taylee Widdison, Jessica Nelsen and Cloe Olsen. The three sophomores, along with Tomkins, are a part of the 4x400 and 4x800 meter team.
A goal this year is to beat the 4x800 school record, which has the head coach on that record team.
Coach Jackie Jones said, “If anyone is going to beat it, I will let this team be the one that does it. Records are meant to be broken and it could happen with these young ladies.”
Megan Hunter and Kiley Jones, both freshmen, are newcomers to the program and will participate in field events.
On the boys’ track team, senior Jarrett Neimark is returning as one of the best jumpers in state. With his specialization in the triple jump, he might do some sprinting and relays, but Coach Jones will have him focus on jumping.
Brandon Scott, another senior, was part of the state champion 4x800 relay team last year. He is trying different events this year to see where he will stand out.
Kyle Solaas, a junior, will be running the distance races, but Coach Jackie Jones is looking to let him compete in other events.
The thrower for the boys team in shot put and discus is sophomore Tyler Goodro and early practices are showing him especially strong in the shot put according to Coach Jackie Jones.
There are three freshmen new to track. Alex Claice competing in mid-distance events. Conor McGraw will specialize in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. Conor can sprint, do long distance and throw says the head coach. His twin brother Shane McGraw will be focused on the triple jump, 200, 400 and 800-meter events.
Coach Jones says it is still early in the season and some kids could surprise her with their abilities as she watches them progress. She said no matter what the season brings, Coach Jones feels she is training a special group.