1A girls: non-stop suspense

If you are looking for unsung heroes in Shining Mountain's state championship story, look no further than Paisley Sheehan. Photo by Alan Versaw.

The final tally reads: Shining Mountain - 74, Heritage Christian Academy - 71, Dove Creek - 68, Vail Christian - 65. And, yes, it was all that close all weekend long. 

On the one hand, it's a shame all four teams couldn't win. Each is a fine time, and especially so given the limitations of school size, and each probably could have won a few--and perhaps all--of the previous 1A State titles.  On the other hand, we don't want more than one "winner." All that's accomplished when that happens is to dilute the meaning of champion. Shining Mountain Waldorf is the rightful 1A track and field champions for 2014. And, it was a great effort that finally put them on top.

It was also a series of great efforts from HCA, Dove Creek, and Vail Christian that pushed them to that point. It was Rebekah Rairdon stunning the crowd by running down Ginger Hutton on the final straightaway to win the 3200 when everyone's legs were still fresh. It was Rebekah and Rachel Rairdon fighting through the challenge from Shining Mountain's Paisley Sheehan to win the 1600 on Saturday when everyone's legs were dead-dog tired. It was Taylor Alexander and Celia Smith taking the 1A pole vault to new heights on Friday, then coming back on Saturday with a couple of teammates to dust the field in the 4x100. It was Madison Young pitching the shot put to a new 1A state record to help keep her Dove Creek team in the hunt.

There was nothing substandard, lacking, or otherwise uninspiring about the 1A girls contest at any point in the weekend.

And, although Ginger Hutton is more or less the face of Shining Mountain Waldorf track and field, it was a much-improved team contribution over 2013 that lifted the Lion(esse)s to the state title.

Hutton accounted for 25 points all on her own between the 400, 800, and 3200. But this year, the relays contributed big with 15 points. Paisley Sheehan added 17 points between 800 and 3200 meters. Tea Speek added seven in the 100, 200, and long jump. Chloe Weber snared five in the pole vault, and Ella Baca added one in the 3200 and four more on Saturday in the 1600. For 1A, that's called getting points from a lot of corners of the table.

Heritage Christian Academy piled up points all weekend long on the legs of Rachel and Rebekah Rairdon. And when it came to the final event of the meet, HCA and SMW were tied at 68 points. The difference maker was, however, that the sisters Rairdon were out of events and helpless to aid the cause when the 4x400 took the track. Heritage Christian Academy settled for seventh and three points. Three places ahead in fourth, and winning the state championship, was Shining Mountain. 

Rebekah Rairdon had, arguably, the biggest meet of any 1A girl at state, taking second in the 800, first in the 1600, first in the 3200, and second in the 300 hurdles. That could be interpreted to mean there is some steepling in Rairdon's future. 

Taylor Glasgow and Kyla Bruxvoort also added individual points to the HCA cause.

For Dove Creek, Corissa Guynes and Madison Young had monster meets. Play out a few what-ifs in the right way and Dove Creek takes home a hefty trophy all the way almost to the Utah state line. One thing is for certain--Dove Creek has a major rebuilding job ahead of them. Not only are Guynes and Young seniors, but so also are the others who contributed individual points for Dove Creek--Jessica Guynes and Shelbie Knuckles.

For Vail Christian, it isn't so much a matter of rebuilding next year as it is a matter of adjusting to a new classification. Celia Smith does graduate, but Taylor Alexander takes her proficiency at getting over bars to 2A next spring. Conceivably, she could join Megan Patterson as the only state meet record holders in multiple classifications. Her 1A pole vault records does not appear to  be in danger for the immediate future, in any case. To the pile of points coming from Alexander and Smith, Vail Christian added 22 points in sprint relays. One more individual point scorer and the Saints might well have been state champions in their last year in 1A. 

Morgan Howard closed out one of the best careers 1A has known with a new state meet record in the high jump and two other places in sprint events. Caliche's Kayla Zink introduced herself this weekend as perhaps the new face of 1A sprinting. At the very least, her margin of victory in the 100 indicates enormous promise. Haley Dietz of Arickaree and Rebecca Kaiser of Prairie will be two to watch closely next spring in the horizontal jumps. And, keep an eye on a promising young team from Plateau Valley that brings back Laura Greene, Audrey Rose Kachin (400 meter title winner), Miranda Schowalter, and Morgan Hightower next spring. Keep on eye on the PV relays as well.

We like the trending that we're seeing in 1A track and field

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