PROVO – Apparently Thunder goes well with rain as it was obvious early in the wet and cold state track meet Saturday at BYU that the 3A track titles belonged to the Desert Hills boys and girls teams.
The only suspense that remained was if the boys team could break the 3A state team record of 161 points. In the closing events of the day, multi-event superstar Caleb Whitney picked up his fourth medal of the weekend and helped his team over the hump to a 171-point final team score.
The girls team won their first state track title in school history with a score of 99, 37.5 points ahead of second-place Cedar. Stars like Abby Taylor, Olivia Leavitt, Brooklyn Lott, Hannah Morby, Jessica Bills, Tiera Orr and Kaylee Carter all collected top-three finishes.
“Our boys, we were very confident going into this weekend,” Whitney said, after his Thunder grabbed their third straight state title. “Our goal was to score in every single event and we only failed to do that in the medley. We were trying to break the points record and I believe we just did that with the long jump. We achieved most of our goals and had a great weekend and we all knew it would be rainy, but we came out here and gave it our all and did pretty well.”
Whitney, who grabbed gold in the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-hurdles, plus silver in both the high jump and long jump, was praised by Thunder head coach Dace Goulding for his preparation, which started long ago.
“I was a little nervous when Caleb came in as a freshman,” Goulding said. “He had a lot of length, but looked a little like a colt on ice, you could say. Since his junior year, he really grew into his body and now this year he looks like he is going to get a good scholarship to go and do multi-events (at the D-1 level).”
Abby Taylor won gold in the long jump Friday and ran the final leg of 4×100 girls team Saturday. Taylor pulled away from the pack in the final 50 meters of her race to help collect a gold in that event. She said Saturday’s performance has been a long-awaited day for her and the DH faithful.
“I was the fourth leg of the race and I brought it home,” Taylor said. “I am a senior and have been wanting this all four years. This year, I felt like we had a special team and we broke school records and so I am proud of the ladies. It was kind of a surprise, I thought, ‘I am just going to take it and see what I can do.’ But each leg got faster and that’s what it’s supposed to do.”
Desert Hills’ list of top three finishes this weekend is almost inexhaustible as the Thunder dominated 3A and often displayed better times than bigger 4A and 5A state championship schools. Jaiden Melendrez got gold in the 1600 with a 4:26 finish and another gold in the 3200 with a 9:37 time. Kale Sharp finished just behind Melendrez in the 1600 at 4:29.57 and got bronze. Joshua Thatcher was seven seconds behind in the 3200, taking silver.
Clancy Pace won silver in the shot put with a chuck of 44-11.25. Chander Swaney won the high jump with his 6-foot-6 jump and got bronze in the long jump with his 21-foot flight. Nathan Sharp also won bronze in the 400 with a 49.76 finish.
For the girls, Carter won gold in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing in 45.43. Leavitt won the 100-hurdles with a 14.65 finish. Orr added a bronze with her 4-11 high jump and Bills, Morby, Lott and Taylor did the 4×100 in 49.9 to win gold.
“It feels really good winning,” Carter said. “My coaches have pushed me so hard and this is one of my favorite races just because I have trained so hard for it. It is a little bit more of a goal for the girls to win state just because the guys have so many good athletes. It is just a goal for us to win state so we can show how much we worked hard.”
Whitney added that hard work and expert coaching was the reason behind today’s success for Desert Hills.
“I love going to practice everyday,” Whitney said. “No matter how tired I am, with all my teammates there we all push each other and I love our coaches. They are some of the best coaches in the state. We are very happy with all the hard work we put in.”
The Desert Hills boys and girls team are the 2015 3A state track champions. For the boys they have now won three titles in row. The girls will hang a 2015 banner as the first girls track title in school history.
The Cedar girls, with 61.5 points, were second in team points. The medley relay of Brooklyn Shakespeare, Holly Carpenter, Rachael Hunt, Whitney Yardley and Julie Hunt took gold.
Dixie was the next highest finisher for the Region 9 boys with 36 points, good enough for fifth at state. After DH and Cedar on the girls side, Dixie’s sixth-place finish was the best from southern Utah.
For full state results, click here.
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