A pair of Cache Valley track & field athletes steadily improved throughout their high school careers, and reaped the rewards as record-setting seniors.
Recent graduates Arianna Steiner (Sky View) and Cyrus Rindlisbacher (West Side) have accepted scholarship offers and signed with Division I programs. Steiner, a standout distance runner, will compete in cross country and track & field for Utah State, while Rindlisbacher will showcase his talents as a hurdler for Weber State.
Rindlisbacher wasn’t satisfied with a relatively successful junior year, so he worked he worked extremely hard in the offseason and after practice this past winter and spring.
Rindlisbacher’s diligence paid off handsomely as a senior as he shaved more than a second off his time in the 110-meter hurdles. The son of Amber Rindlisbacher and CJ Rindlisbacher obliterated the competition at the 2A State Championships in the event — one that included two-time defending titleist Garrett Hawkes of North Fremont — with a scintillating personal record clocking of 14.29.
It was the second-fastest time in all of Idaho this past season and much faster than any prep athlete in Utah. Additionally, it’s believed to be the second-fastest time ever turned in by a high school competitor from Cache Valley. Later at the state meet, Rindlisbacher lowered his own school record in the 300 hurdles and easily claimed the 2A title by clocking in at 39.58.
The Pirates captured the runner-up trophy in the team competition at the state meet and dominated their rivals at the district meet.
Weber State took notice of Rindlisbacher’s talents during the 2019 indoor season. USU also offered Rindlisbacher a scholarship, but WSU’s commitment earlier in the process resonated with their future hurdler.
“It means the world to me,” Rindlisbacher, who was ranked ninth in the Gem State in ’19 in the 300 hurdles. “I mean, ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to go and play college sports. ... Running college track has just been my dream for quite some time, and it was late upon me. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get this opportunity, but I ended up getting it and I could not be more happy. And I’m in awe for all of the support I’ve got ... and I’m ready to go do it.”
Rindlisbacher is especially looking forward to working with Weber State assistant coach Tiffany Hogan, who is a former world record-holder and NCAA champion in the 55 hurdles. Hogan was also a two-time NCAA champ in the heptathlon at BYU and went on to compete in that event at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
This past spring Hogan helped propel a pair of Wildcat hurdlers — Tawnie Moore in the 100 and Kate Sorensen in the 400 — to school record times and honorable mention All-America honors. Moore is the Big Sky Conference record-holder in the 100 hurdles, to boot.
“I mean, between Tiffany Hogan, she is I would say one of the best, if not the best, coach for hurdlers and sprinters,” Rindlibacher said. “She has a legacy behind her, she knows what she is doing and I think that between the other kids pushing me at practice every day and between Tiffany’s advice telling me what to do, what not to do, I think the sky’s the limit, really.”
In order to excel in the 110 hurdles in college, Rindlisbacher will need to adjust to the increased height in the hurdles. Those hurdles are set at 39 inches in high school, but 42 in college.
“I’ve messed around on some 42-inch hurdles and I can tell you it really makes a difference,” Rindlisbacher said. “You wouldn’t think three inches (is going to be huge), but when you snap down going over the hurdle, it kind of throws your balance off. And I just think the hardest part is going to be just getting used to it.”
Another adjustment Rindlisbacher will have to make is the longer hurdles race in college is 100 more meters. Fortunately for Rindlisbacher, he was able to gain a lot of confidence by shining in the 400 hurdles last month at the USATF Hershey regional meet in Bozeman, Montana. He won the event with a time of 55.8 and was the runner-up in the 110 hurdles (14.84).
For his efforts, Rindlisbacher punched his ticket in both events to the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships, which will be contested from July 22-28 in Sacramento, California.
So which race will be a better fit for Rindlisbacher at Weber State?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” said Rindlisbacher, who helped lead West Side’s 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams to district titles and bronze medals at the 2A State Championships. “I have no clue because throughout all of high school my coach told me, ‘you’re going to be a better 300 hurdler than you’ll ever be a 110 hurdler.’ But at the end of it I was a lot better of a 110 hurdler than I was in the 300 hurdles, but it’s a different game in college. In the 400 hurdles, I just seem to run them better, and maybe the 42 inches for the 110 hurdles, maybe that will throw me off my game. I just feel like between me being a decent hurdler and I have pretty good (open) 400 speed, I honestly feel the 400 hurdles I have more potential in, but you never know.”
In addition to his parents, teammates and coaches, Rindlisbacher praised the support of his two sets of grandparents. Rindlisbacher moved in with grandparents Eloise and Ray Rindlisbacher after his parents divorced, and he lived with them all throughout high school. Rindlisbacher’s other grandparents, Janet and Brock Almond, were also very supportive and helped pave the way for him to compete in various meets outside of the normal high school season.
Like Rindlisbacher, Steiner made huge strides as a senior, especially in cross country, where she improved her 5-kilometer times by nearly two minutes. And like Rindlisbacher, Steiner was able to finish her prep career as a champion.
The long-time Smithfield resident beats all comers in the 1,600 at the 4A State Championships one day after claiming the silver medal in a loaded 3,200 field. Steiner’s time of 10:50.68 in the 3,200 is believed to be the fastest ever by a high school female athlete from the valley, and was the fourth-fastest time by a Utahan in an in-state meet in ’19.
Steiner is also Sky View’s record-holder in the 1,600 (5:05.04) and her time of 18:08.9 at the 2018 4A state cross country meet is believed to rank first all-time among all local female competitors on that course. The daughter of Erica and Brian Steiner ran the fifth-best time, regardless of classification, at the state cross country championships this past fall and was the bronze medalist in an extremely deep 4A field.
“It’s a really big honor to be able to run the times I’ve run and be able to come out of Cache Valley,” said Steiner, whose family moved to Louisiana right after she graduated from Sky View. “Since I’ve grown up here basically my whole life, I’m really proud to represent it, and I love having the ability to impact the lives of a few of the younger girls on the team and a few of the other people running.”
Steiner is currently living in Louisiana and will move back to the valley at the beginning of August and “get some altitude training back in.” She also had scholarship offers from a few smaller four-year programs, but choosing USU was a no-brainer of a decision.
“It is amazing,” Steiner said. “I definitely didn’t think I was going to be able to run in college, but just competing these four years and having running be a main part of my life, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity ... because it really has made such an impact in my life. ... And running in my hometown is definitely going to be amazing.”
Running at the next level wasn’t really on Steiner’s radar until toward the end of her junior year. Steiner had a solid cross country season as an 11th-grader, but didn’t really establish herself as a legitimate collegiate recruit until the track & field season. Steiner turned a lot of heads at the 4A meet with her time of 5:05.25 in the 1,600, which shaved a whopping six seconds off her previous personal record.
“That’s really when my coach started helping me train a little bit harder and started making me do workouts that were focusing more on keeping me continually fit and not just focused on the season,” said Steiner, who spent the first couple years of her life in Kansas. “And that’s when I really just kind of realized what I could do, and especially at state track my junior year when I hit some of my times that I definitely didn’t think I could. I was like, ‘Hey, maybe I could go somewhere with this.’”
Steiner barely ran the 3,200 until her senior year, yet that was arguably her signature event. Nevertheless, she showcased her impressive versatility by winning Region 12 titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, and helping Sky View’s 4x400 relay squad place fifth at the 4A State Championships with a season-best clocking of 4:03.97.
While at USU, Steiner plans on focusing on the mile and 3,000 during the indoor track & field season, and 1,500 and 5,000 during the outdoor season. She is also considering dabbling with the 3,000 steeplechase.
The reigning Region 12 cross country champion won’t have to wait long for her career with the Aggies to begin. USU kicks off its ’19 cross country campaign by hosting the Sagebrush Invitational on Aug. 31.
When asked about her goals her freshman year, Steiner said her primary focus is on “improving my speed and improving my endurance.”
“Just focusing on times and consistency is a big part of it, but yeah I think this first year I’m just going to have some fun with it and be a part of the team, bond with the team and do what I can,” said Steiner, who ran a 5:02.54 mile at the Arcadia (California) Invitational this past spring.