Fourteen Murray athletes head to track and field state finals
Jun 01, 2017 10:21AM ● Published by Carl Fauver
Senior Rylee Moore was Region 6 champion at 800 meters, qualifying for the state finals. (Robert Wood)
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Fourteen Murray High School track and field athletes—nine girls and five boys—qualified for the class 4A state finals meet at BYU after placing in the top four in their Region 6 meet at Kearns High.
Overall, the Murray girls track team placed fourth in the seven-school region finals. The boys were sixth out of seven, but came within five points of also placing fourth as a team.
“Our kids showed a lot of heart,” head track coach Ashley McSwain said. “Several of them had to compete in multiple events at region, in a very short time frame, and still performed well. I’m proud of all of them.”
Of the 14 athletes who qualified for the Class 4A state championship meet, four of them are Region 6 champions. Three of the four claimed titles in field events: junior Charity Brower in the discus, senior Hannah Erickson in the long jump and senior Katie Valdez in the javelin throw.
Brower also qualified for the state finals in shot put by placing third at the region finals.
The only Region 6 champion in a running event for Murray was senior Rylee Moore, who placed first in the 800-meter race. In a true photo finish, she crossed the line 1/100th of a second ahead of the second-place girl.
“I was happy with how the season turned out this year,” assistant coach Robert Wood said. The 2001 Murray High School graduate has been assisting with the track team for more than 13 years. “Some of our kids really surprised us, doing much better than we expected.”
Of the five Murray girls who qualified for the 4A state finals (but were not region champions) two advanced in the same event as senior Isabelle Straley placed second and sophomore Brooke Christensen fourth in the 300-meter hurdles. Meantime, senior Julia Walljasper was the Spartans’ second qualifier in javelin (with Valdez) as she placed third.
The other two Murray girls to advance to state include: freshman Adelai Moore, fourth in the long jump and senior Rylee Jones, fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. Isabelle Straley nearly made the state finals cutoff in this event as well, placing fifth.
“We had about 130 athletes come out for the track teams this year,” McSwain added. “About 50 of them competed at the region finals. Getting nearly a third of those (14) onto the state finals is an accomplishment for these kids.”
On the boys’ side, four of the five athletes who qualified for state are teammates on the school’s medley and 4 x 400 meter relays were seniors Tony Nickerson and Jordan Wintch, junior Isaac Walker and sophomore Ian Bonney. The quartet placed second at region in the medley relay and third in the 4 x 400.
Additionally, Bonney (second) and Nickerson (fourth) also qualified for state as individuals in the 400-meter race. Wintch nearly made the state finals cutoff as well, placing fifth in the event.
In addition to the relay teammates, the fifth Murray boy to qualify for state was freshman Parker Hunter, who placed third in the 300- meter hurdles.
“He was quite a nice surprise,” McSwain said. “He had never really tried the hurdles until just two weeks before the region finals. Then he qualifies for state. Quite an accomplishment.”
Finally, McSwain said his boys team would have been much stronger if not for a freak injury.
“Senior Connor Dahle was in his first season with team,” the coach said. “In years past, he’s been a cheerleader. But we had him competing in the long jump, high jump and hurdles. Then, just a week before the region finals he was too sick to compete…and later that night he had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. His appendix hadn’t ruptured, but it was close.”
The state finals meet was held May 19 and 20 at BYU after press deadline.