The Saratoga Sun -

Saratoga feels at home

Panthers run well as they host Burt Willford meet

 

Thomas Ingraham comes off the block to start the 4x100 meter relay for the Panthers.

After being canceled last year because of weather, the Burt Willford Invite track meet went off without a hitch at Saratoga High School (SHS), hosting a bevy of teams from around the region.

Even though the weather was on the cold side and snow flurries were in the air toward the latter half of the meet, spirits were high among SHS athletes, and it showed in the results the team turned in over the second-to-last weekend of the track season.

"It was great to have all our kids at home in front of parents that don't get a chance to travel to track meets," said Rex Hohnholt, head coach of SHS track team and the school's athletic director. "It was good to see a lot of parents there and a lot of community support there, and to have our middle school and high school kids together. It's more rewarding as a coach and an athletic director to see all of these kids who are practicing every single day honing their skills."

Across the board, SHS's athletes turned that support into a home-track advantage, with scores of top finishes across a wide variety of events throughout the weekend, despite the fact the meet was attended by Rawlins High School with many athletes.

The Panthers varsity men and women took home 13 first place wins in events ranging from running to shotput. The stats are more impressive when counting top three wins.

"We got some performance from kids we knew they had, we got some great distances and great heights," Hohnholt said.

Taylor Bennett brought home first in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and Ashlynn Johnson took first in the 3200-meter run. The Lady Panthers also won first in the 4x100-meter relay, the 4x400-meter and the 4x800 meter.

But running wasn't the only area where the girls cleaned up, as Jenna Dew won the high jump and Meredith Lincoln took the glory in the long jump.

Not to be left out, the Panther boys also did their part with first place wins in the 100-meter dash, the 400-meter dash, the 800-meter run and the 3,200-meter run. The boys also took first in the 300-meter hurdles.

Saratoga's Sam Schneider took first in the high jump, and the triple jump before taking second in the shotput while Max Schneider took second in discus with his 100" throw.

All these results are just building up to the future, Hohnholt said, adding that the game plan for the team moving forward is to have athletes specialize in the last two meets of the regular season before regionals in Lander. Not only will that allow athletes the ability to focus on events they feel they have the best chances of winning, but it will also simulate the conditions at regional and state competition.

"When we go to regionals, you're allowed to have four individuals in each event, and this is the last week those kids get to establish themselves and see if they're one of the top four," Hohnholt said. "These two meets this weekend will be the telltale whose doing what when regionals roll around."

Sam Schneider takes first in the 300-meter hurdles. Tiger Kyler Miller, also pictured, came in second in the race.

While Hohnholt is looking forward to regionals and state, he said, he is also looking to the future with a bit of trepidation. In just a few weeks, he will lose his class of seniors to graduation. The seniors this year are a special group, he said. It was because of their leadership that underclassmen signed up for track in high numbers this year.

"I don't know if we've had a more meaningful group of seniors that have come through the program in a long time," Hohnholt said. "When you have all your seniors out for track it's a big wake-up call to those other kids what it takes to be successful and we're going to really miss that bunch of kids and their leadership in athletics, as well academics."

The last two meetings of the regular track season for the SHS track team will be held Friday in Thermopolis and Saturday in Lander. Regionals will be held in Lander May 12-13, and state will be held in Casper May 18-20.

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