Canceled track meets early on in the season are as much a part of the sport as the high jump bar and thrower’s circle, it seems.
But Jackson’s track and field teams were able to return to meets twice last week, with competition in Star Valley and Green River.
So far this season Jackson has found most of its top-end finishes through the distance runners, though field athletes are returning to form, albeit a little slower. Missing the entire 2020 season was especially difficult on athletes like discus thrower Audrey Fouras and jumper Nate Keipert, having had just one varsity season as freshmen, and now returning as juniors with nearly two years between the last times they stepped into the thrower’s circle or launched into the sand pits.
“It was just like a brand-new start, almost like the first year of track in my life,” Fouras said. “A lot of people I know in field events are starting brand new, and it’s hard for them.”
Likewise for Keipert. As a freshman he was a state qualifier in both long and triple jumps, and he surely hopes to return for a second time this year. He’s making progress still, though much slower than he may have had he not missed out on a full year of development in the sport.
“Not being able to jump for over a year has been very difficult,” he said. “But it’s just a challenge to get over. With snow going all the time, and not a whole lot of places to practice, we’ve made do, we’ve been doing good.”
Fouras, who competes in both discus and high jump, said her return to form has come much quicker in discus, and it’s shown in recent weeks. At Star Valley she was third with a toss of 101 feet, and she finished second at Green River with a throw of 103-08.
“It’s always been a desire since freshman year to do really well in discus,” she said. “Discus is my main event, but I’m extremely proud of the whole throwing group and coach [Bill] Wiley; I think all the coaches on our team have stepped up this year.”
Keipert, too, has been making progress, though slower than he might like. At Star Valley he was second in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 3 inches, and he finished fourth in the triple jump at Green River in 39-11.5. He said his personal records have only improved by inches this year over his freshman year, but like Fouras he noted the coaching staff has been patient while the jumping crew once again finds its groove.
“The coaching staff has been very flexible with kids not having much experience under their belts,” he said. “The jumpers in my group have done great so far, even though it feels like everything is against us.
“I feel like I have a lot more to put on the table, and hopefully I’ll get there soon.”
Progress is surely being made, and in two meets last week it came from across the disciplines. At Star Valley, Jackson’s mid-distance runners led the way. The girls 1,600-meter relay team of Kate Brigham, Zaidee Smith, Carey Ritter and Karsen Breeding won in 4:23.69. Smith and Brigham joined Jacie Chatham and Parker Smith in the 3,200 relay to win in 10:11.65.
Zaidee Smith notched a third-place finish in the 3,200 in 13:05.25, while Parker Smith was third in the 1,600 in 5:56.67, and Chatham fifth in 6:07.08.
Karsen Breeding was fifth in the 200 in 28.46.
In the field, Bella Santomauro was fifth in the high jump at 4 feet, 8 inches.
On the boys side, Mason Wheeler was second in the 3,200 in 10:13.17, while Axel Klomparens was second in the 1,600 in 4:53.11. Roman Goralski was fourth in 4:58.06 and Brandon Brazil placed fifth in 4:58.10. In the 800, Juan Flores was fifth in 2:14.2, and teammate Bridger Stiles finished sixth in 2:14.33.
In the field, Keipert’s teammate Rowan Bruno finished third with a leap of 20 feet. Jack Brown scored in discus with a seventh-place toss of 114-06.
At Green River, Zaidee Smith was second in the 800 in 2:41.76. The 1,600 girls sprint medley relay of Rebecca Griebel, Ritter, Parker Smith and Brigham was third in 4:36.58.
On the boys side, Jackson’s 4x8 of Brazil, Klomparens, Flores and Wheeler was second in 8:43.1. Goralski was fourth in the 800 in 2:14.42, while Bruno finished third in the long jump at 20-7. Keipert was fifth in 20-00.25.
Jackson’s distance runners will be at Idaho Falls this weekend, while the rest of the team will be at Pinedale on Friday. Jackson will have its final full-team regular season meet at home on May 8.