Lady Buffs finish 12th at State

Nathan Oster

The foursome of Marlee Henson, Kelsie McColloch, Chaise Benasky and Julia Paul-Blazquez captured second in the 400-meter relay and freshman Wyatt Whaley earned fourth in the shot put to pace the Greybull Buffs at last weekend’s State 2A Track and Field Championships in Casper.
Coach Nolan Tracy took 14 athletes — the most for the program in several years — and while they fell short of matching their performances from the regional meet, the Buffs left the Oil City with plenty to feel good about.
Start with the relay team.  Three of the four runners — McColloch, Paul-Blazquez and Benasky — who were donning the blue and gold for the final time. They went out in a memorable way, posting a 52.74 and finishing behind only Kemmerer with a 52.19.
Whaley’s performance in the shot was noteworthy as well.  Talk about rising to the occasion.  After the first round of throws, she sat in ninth place with a 31 feet, 4 inch heave. “On every throw in the finals, she got better,” said Tracy.  On her final attempt, Whaley threw 33 feet, 6 3/4 inches, which moved her into fourth place.  It was her best throw of the season — by almost a foot.
Greybull’s other points on the girls side came on Julia Paul-Blazquez’s third-place finish in the 100, a sixth in the triple jump and a seventh in the 200 by Henson, and an eighth by Benasky in the 100-meter hurdles.
Benasky’s finish was a heartbreaking one, according to Tracy.  She had the third-fastest 2A time in the prelims, a 17.17, and appeared to be on track to improving on it in the finals when her lead leg got caught on a hurdle.
“She had a legit chance to be all state, but one hurdle just got in her way,” said Tracy. “At the time, she was in second and gaining on the Kemmerer girl for first.”
Instead, the resulting stumble and loss of momentum allowed her rivals to catch and pass her.
“I’ve seen her off balance and get off on her steps, but I’ve never seen her hit a hurdle like that,” said Tracy. “I was sad for her.  She had a good chance to be all-state — if not first, then second.  She really came on late.  Halfway through, the season, she hadn’t qualified. Then she hit a 17.2 at our meet and took off from there.”  
With the 25 points they accumulated, the Lady Buffs placed 12th in the 2A division.
The boys were shut out in the scoring column, but will benefit from the experience, according to Tracy.
“All but two our boys state qualifiers were freshmen — and the two exceptions, Caiden Sorenson and Camryn Gorski, are only sophomores,” said Tracy.  “They didn’t perform quite as well as they did at regionals, but just being there is an important step to success in the future.”
The freshman state qualifiers that Tracy referenced included Daniel Baker, Jesse Brown,  Anthony Chacon, Carter Peasley, Clayton Didrickson and Shawn August.
New to the state track meet this year were some unified events that paired Special Olympics athletes with non-track athletes.  Greybull’s team consisted of Daniel Brown and Noah Gorski, along with Perla Rodriguez and Camila Acuna.  They formed a 400-meter relay team.  Brown also competed in both the 100 meters and the long jump.
Tracy called it a good year for GHS track. “We’ll miss the seniors — they’re irreplaceable — but if you look at the ages and grades of our athletes, as long as we can keep those kids coming out, the future should be pretty bright.”

2A GIRLS RESULTS — Kemmerer 113, Big Piney 107, Lusk 62, Big Horn 50, Lingle-Ft. Laramie 50, Rocky Mt. 48.5, Sundance 48, Tongue River 48, Wright 40, Pine Bluffs 38, Burns 34, Greybull 25, Wind River 16.5, Wyoming Indian 13, Shoshoni 9.
100 METERS — 3, Julia Paul-Blazquez, 13.36.
200 METERS — 7, Marlee Henson, 27.39.
100 HURDLES — 8, Chaise Benasky, 17.7.
400 RELAY — 2, Greybull (Henson, Kelsie McColloch, Benasky, Paul-Blazquez), 52.74.
TRIPLE JUMP — 6, Henson, 32-0 3/4.
SHOT PUT — 4, Wyatt Whaley, 33-6 3/4.

2A BOYS RESULTS — Big Horn 157, Lovell 87.5, Powell 76, Worland 64.5, Buffalo 63, Mountain View 61, Lander 55, Torrington 34, Thermopolis 31, Wheatland 24.5, Newcastle 16, Lyman 14, Rawlins 6, Glenrock 4, Pinedale 1.