Saratoga High School’s track team returned from its second outing in a row in Casper over the weekend, bringing home several wins for the team and individual athletes, as well as having set a strong pace for the rest of the season.
Relay performances seemed especially strong for the Panthers this weekend, something the team’s head coach, Rex Hohnholt, attributes to the combined strengths of athletes on the team. Three tracksters on the boys’ side also showed strong individual strength by earning placement in state finals.
“I was impressed with how competitive the kids were all this weekend,” Hohnholt said, adding the team seems focused and is working hard to achieve goals, even through the hardships of a new season.
“There are a lot of things happening right,” he said about the Panthers’ season thus far.
The boys’ team had four top-10 finishes in long-distance relays. Logan Seahorn, Alex Ziegler, Jeremy Detterer and Gage Bartlett took third in the 3,200-meter relay, earning the group the privilege of performing at State. Alex Ziegler, Morgan Rempel, Logan Seahorn and Jaxon King came in fourth in the 1,600-meter relay, also good enough to qualify for State. Two other boys’ teams ran 1,600 and 3,200 meter relays, finishing strong and taking sixth place in the 3,200-meter and eighth place for the 1,600-meter run.
The Lady Panthers relay times were also impressive. Meredith Lincoln, Katie Loose, Jenna Dew and Alicia Zaragoza’s 1,600-meter relay time of 4:57.92 was good for a fifth place finish, and a ticket to compete in State. Lincoln, Loose and Zaragoza were joined by Ashlyn Johnson on the 3,200-meter relay where they placed fourth.
Hohnholt said the number of athletes on this year’s team has been a tremendous benefit, giving the coach the ability to experiment by creating teams that capitalize on individual athletes’ strengths. Many new athletes mean he also has the advantage of a wide variety of aptitudes for athletes to discover and build upon.
“It’s going to provide us a lot of options when regionals and state roll around, that’s for darn sure,” Hohnholt said.
Individually, three Panthers turned in performances that earned them berths at State. Sam Schneider’s triple jump distance of 40’9.75,” a strong second place finish at the meet, means he will be competing in Casper at state. Gage Bartlett’s 40’8” triple jump, was not only good for third place, but is Bartlett’s ticket to state.
Likewise, Alex Ziegler earned the right to compete at state with his 53.5 second completion of the 400-meter dash, a third place finish for the senior.
Going forward, Hohnholt says it is important to push the students to work and improve, but he must also be cognizant of the risk of injury and take care to prevent team members from pushing themselves too hard and getting hurt.
“We have to be really careful, especially with the amount of work we put in that we don’t end up with any injuries,” Hohnholt said, adding a very busy schedule like the one this week where the team will compete at two different meets back-to-back can lead to mistakes.
The key, he said, will be encourage athletes to work hard and perform well, but to monitor them very carefully to look for signs of tiredness or strain that could lead to injury.
Still, it’s a difficult job because the athletes on the team are so motivated to do well.
“None of these kids are afraid of hard work,” Hohnholt said. “No matter what situation we put them in, they’re gung-ho, they’re ready to go and they’re going to give their best efforts.”
The Saratoga Panthers next meet will be Friday in Rawlins. Saturday, the team will head east to Wheatland for the Wheatland Invite.