PROVO — Damon Simmons could have pouted after struggling in the long jump — an event he was a dark horse state title contender in.
Instead, the Logan senior quickly refocused and bounced back with his best performance in the final event of his high school track & field career.
Simmons got off to an outstanding start and then fended off the competition down the final straightaway en route to wining the gold medal in the 200-meter dash on the second and final day of the 4A State Championships. Simmons completed the race in 22.19 seconds, which was a new personal record on a chilly but relatively dry Saturday at Clarence F. Robison Track.
“I was kind of mad (about the long jump), I’m not going to lie,” said Simmons, who has sparkled in his only year competing in track & field. “I was expecting to do a little better in the long jump, so I kind of just took that (motivation) and put it in the 200, and I think that’s what helped me. I mean, I’m sad about the long jump, but at least a was able to get one gold medal for the team.”
Simmons, the No. 3 seed in the long jump, soared past the 22-foot barrier in a few meets this season and is Logan’s record-holder in the event. Unfortunately for Simmons, he was unable to recapture that magic Saturday as he finished ninth with a 20-0.25.
To his credit, the unassuming senior didn’t let that moment define him and, instead, gave his teammates and coaches plenty to cheer about in the second-to-last event of the meet. The crazy thing is, with the exception of one JV meet, Simmons didn’t compete in the open 200 until the Region 12 Championships last week.
“Oh, it’s been crazy,” said Simmons, the region champ in the 200. “It’s been such a fun year. I’m thankful for my coaches for pushing me to be able to do this and believing in me. I never thought I could run a 200 (that fast). I mean, this is my fourth one.”
Simmons and teammate Bracken Taylor did all they could to salvage what was a rough meet for talented Logan boys squad. The Region 12 champs struggled this weekend and were also beset by some bad luck. The Grizzlies placed 14th with 16 points.
Like Simmons, Taylor put the disappointment behind him from Friday’s disqualification in the medley relay and shined in Saturday’s 400. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, the junior still managed to ran a lifetime best 49.87, which earned him the No. 4 spot on the podium.
“I've been gunning for a 49 all season and I got so close at (the) BYU (Invitational) with a 50.00,” Taylor said. “And I knew this was my last opportunity, and my opponents' pushed me until the very end, so I'm grateful for that. And even though the weather wasn't great, I'll take what I can.”
It was also sweet redemption for Sky View’s 4x100 relay team of Caleb Christensen, Jonathan Hansen, Tony Torres and Traeson Martindale. The Bobcats were state title contenders in that event the previous three years, but were unable to live up to their expectations. The foursome put it all together this time, though, as they captured the silver medal with a season-best time of 43.22.
"It feels way good. In our 4x100, we were seeded a little bit lower, but we had some perfect hand-offs, so that was really good,” Christensen said. “... Out of (my) four years, we've either taken fourth and not gotten medals or were disqualified, so this last time felt really great.”
Christensen also pieced together a clutch performance in the long jump. The senior was in seventh place heading into his sixth and final attempt, but moved up to the No. 4 position with a 21-1.25.
Logan’s Jaylen Sargent finished 10th in the long jump (19-11.75).
Desert Hills held off Spanish Fork and Orem for the team title. The Thunder racked up 71 points — seven more than the Dons and Tigers.
Bear River placed eighth with 36 points. Bear River’s Devon Roberts was the gold medalist in the 110 hurdles (15.03) and silver medalist in the 300 hurdles (39.21).