MHS track and field season preview
So far in 2019-2020, the question for all Monticello High School sports has been how the Bucks will fare competing against 2A competition as one of the smallest schools in the classification.
In year one, the results have been mixed and the same should hold true as Monticello wades for the first time in years into 2A track and field.
In 2019, the Buckaroo boys track and field team edged out Panguitch for the 1A state title.
However, that title looked different than the first 1A track and field championship the school won in 2016, when the Bucks had to beat out not only perennially solid Panguitch, but two usually strong track and field schools in state runners-up Duchesne and Parowan. They are both now in the 2A ranks.
This season, Monticello will have to not only face those schools but a whole host of much larger schools with much deeper teams than the Bucks saw in 1A.
Last season, the MHS girls had one of their best seasons in memory with a fourth-place finish at the 1A state meet. To repeat that result in 2A, the returning girls will certainly have to improve, as well as add some solid newcomers to the mix.
When one steps back and looks at the results from the 1A and 2A state results from last year, one quickly surmises that times and results on the whole are not starkly different between the two classes.
But the talent pool and depth in the 2A classification is deeper and the times and results that would get you on the podium in 1A may not get you there in 2A.
That said, every year is different with new athletes and returning athletes that have improved during the course of the year, so at this point in the season a lot is unknown.
One thing is certain, however. The Monticello teams will have to work hard throughout the spring to have a nice showing at the state meet in early May.
As has been the norm the past few seasons, Monticello’s cross country success should translate to solid performances in the distance track events of the 3200-meter, 1600, and 800.
The boys team returns juniors Alan Pettit and Cory Bunker who placed second and fourth in the 3200 and fourth and fifth in the 1600. Pettit also placed fifth in the 800-meter last spring at the 1A state meet.
Hopefully this season, others not named here can rise up and contribute to the team, but that won’t be evident until the season starts in a few weeks.
The girls also return some distance depth in sophomore Lily Long and senior Maddie Freestone, who placed third and ninth in the 3200 at the 1A state meet last season.
Long also placed third in the 1600-meter and fourth in the 800.
To that mix, the Bucks add state 2A state cross country runner-up and freshman Adri Bird, who expects to compete in all distance events.
The girls will have their work cut out for them in 2A. They’ll compete against some of the best runners in the state from Millard and North Summit, who dominated state 2A track and cross country last season and had very competitive overall state times.
Last season, the boys sprint events (100- and 200-meter) were dominated by upperclassmen who have graduated. Monticello does not return any top ten state finishers from last year and will again hope to develop some this season.
In the sprints, the Lady Bucks return sophomore Taylor Lewis, who placed seventh in the 1A state 100-meter final last year.
For the boys, hurdler junior Camden Lewis returns to compete in the 300 hurdles and 110 hurdles. He placed fifth in both events at the 2019 1A state meet.
The girls return 1A state champion Makayla Sheeran in the 100-meter hurdles.
Sheeran also claimed third in the 300 hurdles and hopes to make a run at both events again this season.
The boys team returns few if any runners from the middle distances – the 400, 4x100, 4x400, and sprint medley relays from teams that finished third, seventh, and first last season at the 1A state meet. Again, the Bucks will have to look to develop the runners for these events.
In middle distance, Taylor Lewis returns from a ninth place finish at last year’s state meet. The Lady Bucks hope to improve in the sprint medley with most of the runners returning from a squad that finished in second place in 2019.
Another area where the Monticello boys excelled last season was in the field events. The Bucks have no top-ten veterans in shot put or discus, but junior Cedar English returns to compete in the high jump, long jump, and javelin.
English placed third and fifth at the 2019 state meet in the long jump and high jump and sixth in the javelin. Junior Cory Bunker also placed tenth last season in 1A javelin.
Lady Buck senior Presley Lewis is the only returning top ten field event finisher. She claimed ninth last season in the long jump.
As you can see, both teams have some good individual talent. But in team events, the Bucks will have to cultivate new talent if they hope to repeat the success they’ve enjoyed in previous seasons against bigger and deeper competition.
The journey officially begins on Saturday, March 21 when the teams travel to Moab for the Red Rock Invitational.