The Saratoga Sun -

SHS exits 2A on top


Ben Ramsey

Freshman Mychaela Jackman accelerates down the straight-away during the 200 meter dash.

Of the 11 athletes Saratoga High School (SHS) sent to compete at the 2A State Track Meet in Casper, 10 got recognition at the award podium. Though she didn't place this year, coach Rex Hohnholt said that Shianne Baker excelled as well, marking "great times for a freshman (in her 100 and 200 meter dash races)."

The May 19-21 Casper meet marked the last time the Panthers team will compete at the 2A level. Next year SHS athletes will be classified in the 1A division, meaning the Panthers will be going up against smaller-sized schools for conference ranking and spots in state competitions for the 2016/17 school year.

"We probably should have been (in 1A) for the last six or seven years," Hohnholt said of the division switch. No one would have thought that watching the season-ending contest in Casper, where the leader boards were filled with a purple parade of Panthers.

On the women's side, Mychaela Jackman and Meredith Lincoln continued to lead the pack. As a freshman, Hohnholt said Jackman has "come a long way in a short amount of time." Jackman was the highest individual placer on the women's team, taking fifth in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 17.15 seconds. Less than a third of a second behind Jackman, Lincoln scored a seventh place finish in the 100 meter hurdles with her time of 17.47 seconds.

"I thought Meredith and Mychaela did a fantastic job throughout the year in their hurdle events," Hohnholt said of the leapers.

Hohnholt was also pleased with the adaptability of the women's 1600 meter relay team, which registered a fifth place finish with their time of 4:37.86. The team consisted of Lincoln, Katie Loose, Shaelee Hamann and Alicia Zaragoza, who usually run shorter races. Even so, Hohnholt said, "They've been steady. It was exciting to see that they were willing to move up to that longer relay, especially with most of them being sprinters."

"Our mid-distance and distance kids were the ones that shined the most," Hohnholt said of the men's team. Jeremy Detterer, Ben Fairbank, Alex Zeigler and Aaron Kerbs blazed into third place in the 3200 meter relay with a time of 8:44.49. "All of them ran great legs in that event, and two of them got done running a 3200 (earlier) that day – an open 3200 meter," Hohnholt noted with pride.

The Panther men also took down fourth place in the 1600 meter relay, with Detterer, Fairbanks, Ziegler and Bradley Bifano combining for a 3:42.10 finish. "Bradley has had a great three meets in that 4x400 – he just keeps getting better and better," Hohnholt said of the graduating senior.

In individual events, sophomores Detterer and Fairbanks capped off impressive seasons with more pace-setting results. An endurance specialist, Detterer took fourth in the 3200 meter run with a time of 10:42.47, and his 4:45.75 finish in the 1600 meter competition earned him a fifth place for that contest. Fairbanks was less than 1.5 seconds behind his teammate in the 1600 meter race, taking sixth place with his time of 4:47.14. That was nine seconds faster than his previous personal best in the 1600 meter race, Hohnholt said. "Detterer and Fairbanks are both sophomores and they're both right in the hunt to challenge for some great placing, (the next two years)" the coach said looking ahead.

In shorter events, Ziegler, took down a sixth place finish of 53.09 seconds in the 400 meter dash. Ziegler also took home an eighth place finish in the 800 meter, which he ran in 2:06.4 – impressive given Ziegler's inexperience in that event, Hohnholt said.

Though he didn't place in the race, Hohnholt said "We'd be remiss not to mention Aaron Kerbs and his 3200 meter time. Every single week he just kept improving (and) improving, and he ran a personal best with about 11 (minutes) flat in the 3200."

Down the line, Hohnholt sees a team brimming over with potential and already eager to compete next year. Though Kerbs and Bifano will be graduating on the men's side, the other three men and all six women who qualified for state competitions will be eligible to run, leap and hurdle again in spring of 2017.

"It just bodes well for the future – we've got a good nucleus of kids coming back that'll be able to teach some of the younger ones what it's like to compete," Hohnholt said. With a more balanced field of competition in the 1A division next year, Hohnholt also said "Moving down a class, we'll have some kids that will pre-qualify (in 2017) that didn't make it to state (this year)."

This week lockers get cleaned, and the hurdles are put away for summer. Come spring of 2017 though, the Panthers will be back on the prowl, eager to track down some 1A prey.


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