Strong numbers bode well for EHS Track and Field teams
Red Devils, Lady Devils look to build on experience
Old Man Winter has so far had other plans, but the Evanston High School track and field teams are practicing like there will, indeed, be a spring sports season, with strong numbers turning out for the Red Devils and Lady Devils – over 120 kids in all.
“Things are going well – the numbers are good, and the kids are working hard,” said EHS head coach Roy Barker. “There’s just nowhere to go right now, that’s the problem. We want to get outside and compete – we’re supposed to go to Utah this week for two meets, but it looks like there’s going to be bad weather again this weekend. It’s frustrating.”
That said, Barker is encouraged by this year’s turnout, weather notwithstanding.
“I think we have around 120 kids out this year, which is great,” Barker said. “We usually get anywhere from 85 to 100, so this is the most I’ve ever had, as a coach.”
It’s just a matter of time before the snow is gone, and meets are in full swing; Barker said he’d like to see his teams improve on last year’s success at the regional meet, and, hopefully, turn some heads at the state meet in May.
“Our goal is to win regionals, so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing,” Barker said. “Hopefully get a bunch of kids qualified for state, and make some noise. Those are our goals, and that’s what we’re going to shoot for. The boys came up just short last year, and the girls were fourth at regions, but I think we have a good group that can challenge that again this year. I know Cody’s solid, and Star Valley is solid, as well. But I think our group is really coming around.”
The Red Devils placed fourth overall as a team at the 2022 4A State Track and Field Championships, the highest finish by a boys’ team in nearly 30 years.
While All-State hurdler Jesus Quintero and thrower Payton Vernon were lost to graduation, there are placers from last year returning, including Kai Barker (4th, high jump; 8th, 110 hurdles) and Gabe Hutchinson (3rd, 400 meters; 5th, 100 meters; 5th, 200 meters).
Also returning for the Red Devils are a handful of athletes with regional and state meet experience.
“We have a lot of kids coming back on the boys’ side that were state placers last year,” Barker said. “Obviously, some of our sprinters – Gabe Hutchinson, Geo Cervantes, Jaun Navarro were all state qualifiers or placers last year. We have a senior – Zeke Walton – he was injured last year, he’s going to be a big help to us this year.”
The Red Devils have a trio of throwers who had solid indoor seasons in Rylan Ivie, Kenyon Muir and Braxton Bauer, who finished third, fifth and ninth at the State Indoor Meet earlier this month.
“Our throwers are looking good,” Barker said. “Braxton Bauer, Rylan Ivie and Kenyon Muir all look really good in the shot, and we have a young sophomore in Connor Olson in the discus that’s looking good so far. It’s early, so it’s hard to tell, but we’re excited for these guys.”
“We have Kai Barker coming back in the hurdles and the high jump,” Barker added. “Derek Parks is back in the distance events, as well as other seniors like Braezden Mecham and Isaiah Lange. All those guys are seniors that have helped us with relays, things like that.”
The Lady Devils were fourth at the 4A west Regional Meet, and 10th at the 4A State Championships, and while the team doesn’t return any state placers, there are a few girls returning with regional and state experience.
“On the girls’ side, we’re young,” Barker said. “We have a few seniors – Savanna Nowakowski wasn’t able to compete last year because of a torn ACL, and we missed her in the pole vault. Her in the pole vault and the high jump, it will be interesting to see what she can do this year. Ellie Asay also in the pole vault as a senior.”
Talia Conrad had a strong indoor track season, finishing third in the 200 meters and seventh in the 400 meters at the state Indoor Meet earlier this month; at last year’s state meet in Casper, she finished 10th in the 400 meters.
Aubrey Horrocks also had a solid State Indoor Meet, finishing sixth in the 1600 meters and 12th in the 800 meters; at last year’s state meet, she finished 14th in the 800 meters.
“Aubrey Horrocks is back for us in the distance running, plus we have some younger distance runners that will step in there and do well,” Barker said. “Talia Conrad in the 200, 400 and 800 looks really good, she had a really good indoor season. And we have some junior sprinters, like Brenna Fackrell, Coaley Clifton that will step up and really help us out.”
“Jessica McMurtrey in the throws is looking solid, and we have some young throwers, as well,” Barker added. “It looks pretty solid – a lot of kids, so we’re excited.”