Even without arguably its top two performers, Preston’s boys track & field team was oh so close to winning its third straight meet.
The Indians racked up 130 points and finished third out of 14 teams at the Firth Cougar Classic last Friday. Preston, which was missing three-time all-state cross country runner Sam Jeppsen and elite high jumper Taite Priestley, was only 2.7 points behind champion Sugar-Salem and 2.0 points behind Salmon.
Likewise, the Preston girls were short-handed due to spring break, but still placed fourth with 92 points, 31 shy of champion Firth. West Side also brought some athletes to the invitational and finished ninth in the boys competition with 26 points and 11th in the girls with 13.
Preston was led by Brecker Knapp, who left Bingham County with three gold medals. The junior reigned supreme in the 110-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles with times of 16.44 seconds and 41.85, respectively. Knapp also teamed up with Nick Nielson, Cole Harris and Brayker Smith to emerge victorious in the 4x100 relay in 45.23.
Harris was also triumphant in an individual event for the Indians as his time of 52.40 in the 400 was slightly faster than that recorded by runner-up Josh Reeder of West Side. Reeder clocked in at 52.58, and the senior finished fifth in the 200 (24.27), to boot. Additionally, Harris was fifth in the 100 (12.05).
Even without Priestley, Preston still managed to win the high jump as Tyler Lindhardt impressed by clearing the bar at 6 feet, 2 inches, for the first time. Smith, Lindhardt’s teammate, placed fifth in the event (5-8).
The Preston boys had three other athletes who medaled in a pair of individual events. Edison Leffler was the runner-up in the 800 (2:06.69) and the bronze medalist in the 1,600 (4:43), while Garrett Hale captured a silver medal in the 1,600 (4:42) and posted the fourth-fastest time in the 3,200 (10:33). Even without Jeppsen, five Preston boys broke the five-minute barrier in the 1,600.
Not only did Lindhardt prevail in the high jump, he placed fourth in the long jump (19-8). Nielson also shined in the long jump with his runner-up mark of 20-2.5.
Preston had a trio of girls who earned a spot on the podium in two individual events. Elly Jeppsen finished third in the 100 (13.99) and fourth in the 200 (28.19), Andie Bell placed third in the 3,200 (12:42) and fourth in the 1,600 (5:50), and Mickayla Robertson was fourth in the 100 hurdles (18.25) and 300 hurdles (52.12).
Jeppsen joined forces with Taylor Romney, Riley Ward and Kylie Larsen to propel the Lady Indians to a title in the 4x400 relay. The foursome completed the race in 4:22.40.
Romney was the silver medalist in the 800 (2:29.10) and Larsen placed fifth in the 400 (1:06.94), to boot. Preston’s Anna May was fifth in the 100 (14.41).
In addition to Reeder, two other West Side athletes who showed their mettle were Easton Henderson and Aubrie Barzee. Henderson was the bronze medalist in the 110 hurdles (17.39) and 300 hurdles (42.85), and Barzee beat everyone except the champion in the 3,200 (12:39).