PROVO –Desert Hills jumped out to a great start Friday in the first day of the state track meet at Brigham Young University as the Thunder dominated the boys long jump and won a gold medal in the boys 1600-meters. The golds helped propel the DH team score to 46, good enough to put them in second in all classifications and first in 3A heading into the final day of the meet. The Thunder girls team also sits atop the 3A classification with 30 points.
DH didn’t wait long to grab its first medal when Jaiden Melendrez ran through cold rain in the meet’s opening race to post a 4:26.92 in the 1600.
“This past week I was dealing with a sore throat and runny nose,” Melendrez said. “So today I was shooting for place not for a time. The race started out super slow, it was like 2:20 at the 800 and so the third lap we started to pick it up and we came through the 1200 at 3:30 then I just went and didn’t let up. It was really cold, but I think running in the rain is fun.”
Later, in an all-Region 9 top three high jump ranking, DH’s Chandler Swaney and Caleb Whitney both cleared 6-feet, 6-inches in the high jump, but Swaney edged out Whitney with less misses in the earlier rounds. It’s the second straight gold in the event at state for Swaney. Snow Canyon’s Karsten Boetcher took third. For the DH girls, who grabbed points in almost every event, their only gold of the day came from Region 9 champion Abby Taylor, who took home the long jump gold medal with a jump of 18-feet, 8 inches.
“I was kind of nervous at first because it was rainy and cold,” Swaney said. “But it started to clear up as I was jumping and it ended up being a good day. That was awesome competing against my teammate. It is always a friendly competition between he and I in practice, but I am glad he ranked high and was able to finish at the top with me.”
Other Region 9 contenders repped Southern Utah with great performances from the Cedar girls, who won the 3A medley and the Dixie boys, who took home a silver medal in the 3A medley, finishing just ahead of Snow Canyon.
Cedar’s gold in the girls medley may have been the most exciting race of the day as Cedar’s last runner, Whitney Yardley, erased a 10-foot deficit upon receiving the baton and edged out crosstown rival Canyon View in the final 100 meters, finishing with a 4:13.98.
“I went in not that confident that we would win,” Yardley said. “I knew that it would be a really hard race and that we would have to work really hard. The first three legs really did a great job so that when I got the baton, I really wasn’t that far behind and I was able to keep a good pace until I caught up with Canyon View, who was in first place. Since I wasn’t really looking for time, but for place, I waited until the last 100 meters to pass, then I passed her. It’s a great payoff for the end of the season. It makes it all worth it. After terrible workouts and not necessarily winning every meet, to win at state now means a lot.”
Dixie’s boys grabbed a second place in the 3A boys medley after just getting edged out by Stansbury in the final 50 meters, and Snow Canyon snagged third place. Stansbury finished in 3:31.13 with Dixie behind them at 3:32.65 and Snow Canyon at 3:36.21
“I thought I was going to pass him at the end with a few hundred meters,” Ike Urquhart said. “But he had a really good kick so I couldn’t pass him. It means a lot to come here to state and qualify and we were only a couple seconds behind the state record.”
Flyer medley member, Max Brown added that although they finished second, he is proud of what his team accomplished this year.
“It’s been a season’s work,” he said. “We had a couple guys in and out of the medley team but we were able to come through. I’ve got some good teammates around me so I gave it to my fast guys and we have a really good team.”
While day one of the state meet was primarily time trials, with a few exceptions, most final races for state take place Saturday. Desert Hills goes into the big day in prime position to take home the 3A title once again. The state track meet will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
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