Lady Rangers grab state record, nine gold medals in Casper

Kemmerer runners celebrate after winning the 4x800 relay at the Wyoming State 2A track meet in Casper last weekend. Pictured are Sammi Butler, Sophie Failoni, Sydney Julander and Jillian Tibbetts. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Michelle Tibbetts)

KEMMERER — Nine Lady Rangers made the trip to the state track meet last weekend and they returned with a new state record and nine gold medals. They scored 69 points and placed third, the highest point total and best finish since the Lady Rangers won the title in 1985. It is the first time that two Lady Ranger relay teams placed first in the same year. Eight girls made all-state honors, the most in Kemmerer history. The boys’ squad made a late surge to land in eighth place, scoring 28 points. Both squads are young and the future looks very bright.

Thursday

The first running event was the 3200 meter run and it was competitive. Sammi Butler finished in fourth place and Sophie Failoni finished eighth to put the first points on the board for the Lady Rangers. Freshman Larissa McKelroy of Wyoming Indian stunned the field by winning the race in twelve and a half minutes and it was not the last time the Lady Rangers would have to deal with her talent on the track.

The team did not have any luck in the boys’ discus or 110 meter hurdle prelims. Laurel Clarke made it to the finals in the 100 meter hurdle prelim but the team suffered a huge loss when senior Brooklyn Hagler broke her foot in the event. Hagler ranks among the top ten best hurdlers in Lady Ranger history in both hurdle events. She was among the favorites in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles and an important leg on two relay teams at this year’s meet but she was unable to compete.

The day’s final event was the 1600-meter medley relay. The Kemmerer girls came in as huge underdogs to last year’s state champion team from Moorcroft, which returned the key pieces from last year. The Lady Rangers ran a flawless race as Sammi Butler and Laurel Clarke established a lead over the first 400 meters. Marisa Orcutt took the baton and ran an impressive 400 to extend the lead. Kenley Plowman had the job of holding off three-time 800 meter state champion Hailey Jones of Moorcroft in the final 800 meters. Jones made a valiant comeback and caught Plowman with 100 meters remaining. They fought hard down the stretch but Plowman came out victorious, outkicking Jones to the finish line by a half second. In the process, the Lady Rangers had shaved 13 seconds off their season best time and established a new state record of 4 minutes 25.15 seconds.

 Friday

In the first running event, the 800-meter dash, Kenley Plowman ran a good race in 2 minutes 28.60 seconds to place fifth. Marisa Orcutt ran a personal best time of 27.68 seconds in the prelims of the 200-meter dash to make it into the finals. In the boys’ 200, Austin Quin Martinez and Quinten Rosas ran personal record times of 23.88 and 23.91 seconds, respectively, but did not make the finals.

In the field events, the boys’ squad scored a trio of eighth place finishes: Jeydon Boyd in the shotput, Tanner Plowman in the triple jump and Cameron Adams in the long jump with a personal record leap of 19 feet 7.5 inches. 

Teryn Thatcher saved her best long jump to date for the state meet, 15 feet 10.5 inches to place fourth. Jillian Tibbetts placed 10th in the discus, barely missing the finals. Boyd was 11th in the discus and Adams was 11th in the high jump.

In the prelims, Laurel Clarke made the top eight and a trip to the finals in the 300-meter hurdles. Orcutt did the same in the 100 meter dash. In the 400-meter prelims, Tanner Plowman placed first and Austin Quin Martinez fourth to make the finals.

The 4x100-meter relay team of Adams, Rosas, Martinez and Plowman ran the oval in 45.77 seconds, a season’s best, to place third. The girls’ team of Tibbetts, Thatcher, Clarke and Orcutt placed sixth in 54.19 seconds.

With the weather predicted to get very cold and wet on Saturday, all of the field events were moved to Friday evening. The pressure was on last year’s triple jump champion Kenley Plowman to defend her title and she did not disappoint, leaping a personal record 34 feet 10 inches for first place. Teryn Thatcher won second place with her jump of 34 feet 8 inches. 

The girls’ 4x800-meter relay team ended the day on a high note. Sammi Butler ran a perfect first leg, punishing the Wyoming Indian runner on all three corners before kicking out to build a 30-meter lead. Sophie Failoni and Jillian Tibbetts maintained that lead over the next two legs. The handoffs were great and Sydnie Julander took the baton with Larissa McKelroy trailing. As seen in the 3,200-meter run, the freshman from Wyoming Indian was one tough competitor and the race was in doubt. McKelroy pushed hard and took the lead at the halfway point. Julander maintained her stride and retook the lead with 100 meters remaining, outkicking the Lady Chief to the finish line. The team ran the two miles in 10 minutes 58.20 seconds, taking first place honors with Wyoming Indian one second behind.

The boys’ 4x800-meter relay team of Aiden Runnion, Nate Pinkerton, Trayven Hayes and Tommy Skidmore finished in ninth place.

Saturday

The weather on Saturday morning was cold, wet and windy as predicted for the second year in a row at the state meet. Laurel Clarke was moving into fourth position in the 100-meter hurdles when she got tripped up on the second to last hurdle, somersaulting on the track and finishing in eighth place. Marisa Orcutt finished seventh in the 100-meter dash and eighth in the 200-meter dash. Clarke added another eighth place finish in the 300-meter hurdles.

The finals of the 400-meter dash are the fastest that the 2A ranks have seen since 2010 when the current state record was set. The winner, Tucker Bopp of Glenrock ran just eight-hundredths of a second off the state record of 49.63 seconds. Tanner Plowman was close behind at 50.93 seconds for second place and Austin Quin Martinez ran it in 52.30 seconds for fourth place. Both marks are personal records and Plowman’s time only trails Jason Easley, Cole Shimmin and Jeff Frost as the fastest 400 in Ranger history.

In the 1,600-meter dash, Sammi Butler ran a near-personal-record time of 5 minutes 53.84 seconds to place fourth. Butler made up a 20-meter deficit in the last 60 meters to pass two runners, crossing the finish line eight-hundredths of a second sooner. Sophie Failoni finished in 11th place.

The final event was the 4x400-meter relay. The team of Failoni, Teryn Thatcher, Clarke and Orcutt finished sixth. The boys’ team of Trayven Hayes, Jeydon Boyd, Tyson McKane and Tanner Plowman finished third with a season’s best time of 3 minutes 45.32 seconds. Plowman made up a 30-meter deficit, passing four other runners on his way to third place honors.

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