The Saratoga Sun -

Tigers shine at cloudy meet


Wyoming’s mercurial spring weather brought cold temperatures and snow to track and field state finals in Casper over the weekend, but neither the cold nor the wet could stop the Encampment Tigers who had four of nine athletes take home first place, All-State honors.

Three of six Lady Tigers returned with All-State honors in six events, and of six boys who traveled to Casper, one earned All-State with plenty others taking top-five and top-10 spots in a wide variety of events. For such a small group comparatively, the Tigers punched well above their weight, with the girls’ team taking second place and the boys coming in sixth.

Senior McKenzie Powell competed in the 400-meter dash, the 800-meter dash, the triple jump and the 1,600-meter run. McKenzie Powell took second in the 400 and 800, third in the triple jump and fourth in the 1,600.

McKenzie Powell’s younger sister, Paige Powell, competed as well, besting her older sister in the triple jump. McKenzie Powell, for her part, encouraged her younger sister, challenging the junior Powell to beat her in the jump. Paige did by 3 inches, taking second place in the event.

Those are the sorts of team dynamics that gave Encampment the edge over other schools, said Kegan Willford, head coach of the Encampment Tigers’ track and field team.

“These guys see each other in practice all the time, they compete against each other all the time,” Willford said. “I think that carries over into the meets and we have a leg up on the competition because these guys are competing with each other night in and night out.”

Rising Encampment star Hailey Barkhurst also brought home the gold for the Tigers, earning first place All-State honors in the shot put with a throw of 35’9.75.” Barkhurst also finished first in discus with her 188’2” throw.

Overall, the Lady Tigers fielded six athletes, and all finished every event in the top 10, with most finishes being in the top five. The girls earned second place in team scores at State, punching well above the school’s weight considering the size of the Tiger contingent.

The boys’ team, likewise, had a spate of finishes in the top 10, with most being in the top five. Of six athletes who traveled to Casper, they competed in 12 individual events with seven top 10 finishes. The boys of Encampment also turned in strong performances on two team events, the 4x800-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay.

The gentlemen Tigers took second in the 4x800 and seventh in the 4x400.

Like the girls’ team, there were also All-State honors bestowed on the team. Freshman Reid Schroeder took first place in the State in the 3,200-meter run, and followed up his performance with a seventh-place finish in the 1,600-meter.

The youth of the team, coupled with the exemplary results they turned in at State bodes well for Encampment school going into the future. This year’s team only had two seniors, yet the Tigers made up for a lack of experience with hard work.

While reluctant to take too much credit for the hard work of the students, Willford said the team’s method of individual short-and-long-term goal setting worked well for the team, allowing athletes to show consistent improvement over the course of the season.

The Tigers also peaked right on time, Willford said, allowing them to hit their best performances during regionals and State when it mattered most.

Because the team is young and still improving, Willford predicts fans of Encampment track and field will have a lot to look forward to when the season rolls around again for the next few years.


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