By Max Miler 

11 Panthers head to Casper for state meet


A strong season ending push over the weekend propelled four more Panther tracksters into upcoming state competition. The size of the Saratoga High School (SHS) contingent headed to Casper now numbers 11, with Katie Loose, Shianne Baker, Alicia Zaragoza, and Shaelee Hamann winning tickets to compete alongside Mychaela Jackman, Meredith Lincoln, Jeremy Detterer, Ben Fairbanks, Aaron Kerbs, Alex Ziegler and Bradley Bifano, who had already qualified in weeks past.

“We didn’t have any regional champions this year, but we had some really solid performances,” SHS track coach Rex Hohnholt said of his athletes. “The kids were mentally prepared and really focused,” he said proudly.

Hohnholt sounded particularly impressed with the performance of his younger athletes. “Our freshman, Shianne Baker, qualified for state in the 100 and 200 (meter dashes), which was a big surprise,” he said. Baker took seventh place in both of those races.

Hohnholt also had praise for Junior Katie Loose, saying, “Loose just came out of nowhere and ran a fantastic mile and two mile this weekend. Going in she wasn’t expected to do so.” Loose took fourth place in the 3200 meter race with a time of 13:29.4, and her 6:10.89 1600 meter results were good enough for a fifth place finish in that race.

Meredith Lincoln, the coach noted, “jumped her best ever in the long jump to sneak in against some really good competition.” Alongside her sixth place finish in the long jump, Lincoln took fourth in the 100 meter hurdles.

Shalee Hamann’s opportunity to shine came in the 1600 meter relay. Hamann, Zaragoza, Lincoln and Loose melted blacktop with their fourth place finish in that event, shaving 17 seconds off their time from the last weekend – a huge improvement.

The top eight athletes in each individual race get the chance to compete at state. For relays, it is the top four finishing teams for each event.

On the men’s side,Hohnholt said that Jeremy Detterer’s performance was again a highlight. Continuing a dominant season, Detterer took home two second place finishes, with a time of 4:45.99 in the 1600 meter and a 10:37.72 3200 meter run.

Ben Fairbanks likewise impressed, setting new high-water marks for himself with a 2:11.03 800 meter finish and a 4:56.11 1600 meter result that was good for third place.

Going into the 400 meter dash unseeded, Alex Ziegler “really had to fight through a lot of traffic and expend a lot of energy,” to hang onto his seventh place finish in that category, Hohnholt said.

The coach also nodded to Aaron Kerbs fourth place finish in the 3200 meter run and Bradley Bifano’s season-best pole vault as examples of excellent performances.

For those who didn’t quite make the cut this go-around, Hohnholt had lots of encouragement and praise to offer as well. “There’s a lot of kids that don’t get to go to state this year that had a really good meet. They’re just younger and things will happen for them down the road,” he said.

The upcoming week “will be the easiest week of the year (practice-wise) – those kids have earned it,” Hohnholt said of his preparations for Casper. “We’ll still keep em sharp and work on some things, but it’s more of a tapering week,” he said.

Not wanting to risk missing out on competition due to bus trouble or inclement weather, Hohnholt said the four tracksters who are scheduled to compete in the morning – Loose, Bifano, Detterer and Kerbs – will travel to Casper the night before.

“It’s only going to get tougher adding one more region to things,” Hohnholt said about state competition. If recent events are any indication, the Panthers are up to that challenge. State competitions will be held May 19 in Casper, Wyo.


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