By Robert McMichael

The nine-girl Titan track team decisively won the Idaho 1A District 3 Track Championships last weekend in New Plymouth. Scoring 138 points, the Titan girls prevailed against teams with up to twice the number of athletes, beating second-place Notus by 47 points over a two-day event in very warm temperatures. Coach Marcy Hansen’s experience entering athletes in events likely to generate points was tested when several girls struggled with injury and illness. But they toughed it out and ran, threw, and jumped with determined hearts and minds. The Titan boys also performed well, placing 6th among 14 teams, including besting all other Long Pin teams.
The top three finishers in each event advance to the Idaho 1A Track and Field Championships next weekend (Friday and Saturday, May 17 & 18) at Middleton High School. The following nine Titan athletes earned berths at State:
·       Lauryn Mitchell: 400M, 300M Hurdles, High Jump, 4 x 400M

·       Emma Hollon: 800M, 1600M, 4 x 400M, Sprint Medley

·       Ashlyn Gerlock: 100M Hurdles, 300M Hurdles, High Jump

·       Larissa Hansen: 800M, 4 x 400M, Pole Vault, Sprint Medley

·       Grace Ertel: 3200M, Triple Jump, 4 x 400M

·       Morgan Wood: Discus, Sprint Medley Relay

·       Beth Gladhart: Sprint Medley Relay, Pole Vault

·       Colt Uhlenkott: Shot Put, Discus, Pole Vault

 Track and Field, the only sport available to Titan athletes in the spring, combines physically and technically demanding individual athletic events in which each athlete’s performance factors into the team score. The top finishers in each event are awarded points corresponding to their placing; in an event with eight or more athletes, for example (the most common situation), first place earns 10 points, second place gets 8, and then it goes 7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Each athlete trains for specific events throughout the season, but might try different events at some meets to determine which events he or she might excel at; athletes may compete in up to four different events at each meet. By the league and district meets at the end of the season, each athlete hopes to “peak” for their events and – if everything goes right – he or she will execute a personal record (“PR”) in each event. Those athletes that achieve PRs are generally seen as exceeding their expected performance, which then contributes to the team’s score if they place highly enough in the event. At Districts, Titan athletes recorded the following 22 PRs:
 
Timon Bode: 100M, Discus
Boden Meyer: 400M
Logan Farrens: 400M, 800M, Shot Put
Brendan Wood: 800M
Josh Conway-Lee: 800M, 1600M
Colt Uhlenkott: Shot Put, Discus (1st place)
Lukas Langforth: Discus
Lauryn Mitchell: 400M (1st prelims)
Emma Hollon: 800M (1st)
Ashlyn Gerlock: 100M Hurdles (2nd), 300M Hurdles (1st), Discus
Morgan Wood: Discus (2nd place)
Amanda Uhlenkott: Discus, Long Jump
4 x 400M team (Larissa Hansen, Emma Hollon, Grace Ertel, Lauryn Mitchell) (2nd)
Sprint Medley team (Morgan Wood, Larissa Hansen, Beth Gladhart, Emma Hollon) (1st)
 
Track and Field is not for the faint of heart; it’s hard work and teaches kids to push themselves beyond their physical and mental limits. To excel at an event requires dedication, commitment, and accepting (or even inviting) temporary but intense pain. On the personal level, you get out of it what you put into it. Collectively, a focused, dedicated team of just a few athletes can do wonders. It’s an amazing opportunity for kids to learn to connect intense personal effort with group success. And it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed to watch an athlete figure out an event and achieve a breakthrough. You never know when or where or with whom it’ll happen, but it always does. Every meet. Unlike most other team sports, in Track and Field everyone always plays. And everyone always has a chance to improve, whether they excel at an event or not. It’s kind of like real life that way.
 
Coach Hansen and her assistant coaches (distance coach Rich Hollon, jump coach Bob McMichael, and hurdle coach Leslie McMichael) have seen some incredible things this season and look forward to the State meet next weekend. Please consider heading over to Middleton to support these athletes as they take on the top performers in their events. Titan athletes have some legitimate shots at State titles.