A strong performance by rival Soda Springs was nearly too much for West Side’s boys track & field team to handle, but the Pirates refused to fold under the pressure.
It came down to the final event and the Pirates threw down a 2A-leading time of 3 minutes, 30.61 seconds in the 4x400-meter relay to tie the Cardinals for first place in an epic team race at the 2A Fifth District Championships, which concluded Wednesday in Soda Springs.
Both programs finished with 118 points. Aberdeen was third with 80 points, followed by Bear Lake (38) and Malad (20). The West Side boys have won captured at least a share of the district title in 12 of the past 13 seasons.
The 4x400 relay capped off a memorable meet for West Side’s Bryler Shurtliff, who captured three gold medals and one silver. The junior anchored the Pirates to victory in that event, was triumphant in the 200 (23.34) and long jump (personal record leap of 20 feet, 11.5 inches), and was the runner-up in the 100 (11.54).
Shurtliff was joined on the relay team by Josh Reeder, Parker Moser and Jaxon England. Soda Springs finished a close second in that race, adding even more drama to the competition.
“It was awesome,” Shurtliff said. “That race we knew if we didn’t run our best race we would (finish second). If we didn’t run that race there was no way we could win, so the other guys knew what they had to do and when I got the baton, the other three guys did an amazing job and I knew it was my turn, so I ran the best 400 leg I have ever ran. And to have all of West Side cheering while you’re running, it’s a great feeling.”
It was also a memorable meet for West Side’s Easton Henderson, who came through with personal records times and the maximum eight team points in both hurdles races. Henderson clocked in at 15.88 in the 110 hurdles and 41.91 in the 300 discipline.
“I was so excited, especially in my 110,” Henderson said. “I had been struggling with that all year and to finally break the 16s (was gratifying) and the 300 PR was more than a surprise. I wanted to win hurdles in districts sophomore year. That was my goal, but because of shutdowns that wasn’t able to happen. I’m just pumped I was able to win. I have waited three years for that and I was so happy it finally came.”
The West Side boys finished with seven event titles as Reeder reigned supreme in the 400 (51.71), as did Hayden Robinson in the triple jump (41-7.25). Additionally, Robinson was the bronze medalist in the high jump (5-10).
It was a three-team battle in the girls competition and Aberdeen was able to claim the first-place trophy with 107 points. Soda Springs was second with 95, followed closely by West Side (87), and then Bear Lake (45) and Malad (40).
Four different athletes secured gold medals for the Lady Pirates. Ashlyn Willis continues to lead her classification in the 800 and the senior came through with a PR time of 2:24.70. Willis also qualified for the 2A State Championships in the 1,600 by placing fourth (5:48).
“I’m pretty confident going into the state meet,” Willis said. “Obviously, anything can happen, but if I run like I have been this year, I think I’ll be able to pull off a state title (in the 800). And if I give it my best and someone does beat me, I want to leave that race knowing I gave everything I could and that’s really all that matters.”
The Lady Pirates also received championships from Aubrie Barzee in the 1,600 (5:32), Letti Phillips in the 300 hurdles (49.54) and Kynlee Beckstead in the pole vault (8-6). Barzee was the bronze medalist in the 3,200 (12:01), as was Phillips in the 100 hurdles (17.15). Barzee, a freshman, broke the school record in the 3,200, to boot.
Other West Side athletes who captured silver medals individually were Andrew Olinger in the discus (134-1.5), Brentan Noreen in the 800 (2:05.77) and Madalyn Barzee in the pole vault (8-0). The Lady Pirates swept the top four positions in the pole vault. Olinger also placed third in the shot put (41-1), as did Noreen in the 1,600 (4:57).
West Side’s other bronze medalists in individual events were Alaina Telford (pole vault, 7-6), Moser (800, 2:07.03), Brennon Winward (110 hurdles, 16.81) and England (long jump, 19-5.75).
Natalie Lemmon placed fourth for the Pirates in the high jump (4-6) and long jump (14-0.75). Other Pirates who finished fourth individually were Chloe Keller (100 hurdles, 17.23), Jocie Phillips (pole vault, 7-0), Marissa Clawson (triple jump, 31-3) and Cage Brokens (long jump, 18-9).
West Side was second in the boys medley relay and the girls 4x400. Both teams should receive wildcard bids to state. Only eight relay teams qualify for state in Idaho.