West Side sophomore Carlton Baird celebrates after winning the 1,600-meter run during the 2A State Track Meet at Middleton High School Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Aaric Bryan/IPT
By Jason Turner, Logan Herald-Journal
It’s safe to say May 18, 2013, is a day the West Side community will remember for years to come.
After all, it’s the day the Pirates made history at the 2A State Track & Field Championships.
For the first time in school history, West Side returned to Franklin County with a pair of state titles. The Pirates pulled away for a decisive victory on the boys side, while the girls rallied past several schools in dramatic fashion on the second and final day of the 2A meet Saturday in Middleton, Idaho.
“We got our track built about five years ago and track was kind of non-existent to the community about five years ago, and now with the success of the program and (thanks to) the new track, people are just really starting to support track,” WS head coach Tyson Moser said. “We had a lot of people that came up to state track (this weekend) who didn’t even have kids involved.
“So, it means a lot to the kids, coaches and the community, for sure. You could not ask for a better day to have both teams go up and win state titles at the same time.”
Led by Tate Fuller, who captured titles in the 400 and 800 meters and anchored his team to victory in the 4×400 and medley relays, the West Side boys scored 93.3 points — 36.33 more than a trio of schools that tied for second place.
As for the Lady Pirates, they were outside the top five for much of the day in a very deep field. However, they took the lead for good when Kelsie Clawson and Taya Nash finished 1-2 in the 300 hurdles — the third-to-last event. West Side edged runner-up Firth, 78-74, while five other schools scored more than 52 points.
It was the Lady Pirates’ first-ever state championship in the sport.
A day after breaking her own school record in the preliminary rounds of the 100 hurdles — she clocked in at 15.58 seconds — Clawson reigned supreme in the finals of the 100 and 300 hurdles. The senior clocked in at 16.59 in the high hurdles and defended her title in the 300 with a time of 47.97.
Clawson, who made it a point to praise her coaches, also teamed up with Nash, Casey Rich and Sydney Blair to cross the finish line first in the 4×200 in 1:48.88.
“This has been such an amazing experience, I’ll tell you that,” said Clawson, who became only the second West Side girl to win three state track titles in one season. “We just have such a great girls team. … It’s just been so fun having all of the teammates right behind me and everybody just working their hardest. To pull together and get this team title was just awesome.”
In the boys competition, the star of the meet was undoubtedly Fuller, who has had a memorable senior year. This winter, Fuller was named his district’s player of the year in basketball, and he shined even more during the track season.
Fuller beat all comers in the 400 (50.87) and 800 (2:02.07), and helped West Side put the exclamation point on its third boys state title in the last four years. In the meet’s final event, the 4×400, Fuller combined with Dillyn Morgan, Dylan Turnbow and Jon O’Brien to prevail in 3:29.39.
The Pirates claimed their medley relay crown on Friday.
“I’m very happy,” said Fuller, who became West Side’s first-ever four-time champion at a single state meet. “I mean, when you put in the work you might as well do the best that you can do, and then it will hopefully (pay off). And it was a good feeling.”
West Side’s boys also received a monster performance from Carlton Baird, who is unquestionably one of Idaho’s most improved distance runners. The sophomore followed up his silver-medal effort in Friday’s 3,200 with another huge personal-record time. Only this time, Baird finished second to no one, emerging victorious in the 1,600 in 4:36.78.
Baird only qualified for state in one individual event a year ago as he placed 11th in the 3,200.
“I don’t think I was expected to score many points,” Baird said. “… I think most of it is because of my coaches and just them pushing me to be better in all of my events.”
Another Pirate who shined was senior Paul Stegelmeier, whose fourth-place mark of 47-9.5 in the shot put was a school record. He missed the bronze medal by half an inch.
Additionally, West Side’s received valuable team points from medalists — the top six competitors in each individual are awarded medals — O’Brien in the 200 (fourth place, 23.25) and McCoy Roberts in the 300 hurdles (fifth, PR of 42.06). Roberts also finished eighth in the 110 hurdles (16.50).
As for the Lady Pirates, Blair once again secured them a wealth of points. The senior, who is the school record-holder in the 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200, placed second in the 800 (2:22.58) and fifth in the 400 (1:00.98).
Blair has been scoring points in individual events for the Pirates ever since she was a freshman.
“Yeah, we’ve always had to come home with the boys winning a state title, where usually we’ve finished, I don’t know, sixth or fifth, and then last year we got fourth and that was awesome because we finally got to bring home a trophy,” said Blair, who went on to praise her coaches. “And then this year, we were like, ‘Oh my goodness, we can actually take state,’ and we did, so it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Nash, who covered the 300 hurdles in 49.17, combined with Rich, Lauren Porter and Addie Cook to take third in the 4×100.
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