The Park City track and field team wrapped up a good indoor season with a strong showing at the Simplot Games
A handful of Park City track and field athletes traveled to Idaho last weekend to participate in the Simplot Games at Idaho State University in Pocatello — considered one of the top international indoor track meets for high school athletes, according to Miners coach Dave Yocum.
“There are kids from all over the country who come to compete in this so for us, it’s a great meet that gives us an idea of what sort of competition we can expect when we get to the state tournament,” Yocum said. “There are over 2,000 athletes who compete at the meet, so making the finals of any event is a massive deal. With such a wide range of athletes competing in each event, just getting to the end is huge and shows that you’re one of the best athletes out there.”
The Simplot Games was the last event of the indoor track and field season for the Miners, and many of them went out in style.
The 4×400-meter boys team finished ninth with a time of 3 minutes and 34 seconds, setting an indoor meet school record in the process — and this was without their star runner senior Paul Baynes competing with them. The team of Kaleb Barnhart Sam Alford, Will Henry and Seth Warner exceeded expectations at the meet, but has now set new ones for the outdoor season as a state title in the event is looking like a possibility.
“We’ve been working really hard with heavy loads on a weekly basis and it rally showed,” Yocum said of his 4×400 squad. “We aren’t as sharp yet on speed so I was really happy with how technical we ran the race. …It was definitely something special to watch.”
Baynes ran the 4×400 with the Gold Medal Athletics Track Club, a club he trains and competes with regularly during the year. If he were to run the 4×400 with Park City, Yocum believes that time can get down into the 3:30’s, making the Miners true state title contenders in his favorite event.
In the end, Baynes finished eighth in the 400-meter, a solid showing for him, although Yocum suggests that fatigue might have set in by the end.
“Paul had a great meet, and he’s still coming off the injury so he’s trying to get fully up to speed and shape,” Yocum said. “For him to run four different 400s in two days and still compete as well as he did is a testament to what he can do. … Especially when he becomes fully healthy.
Another top performer for the Miners was Henry, who made the finals of the 800-meter race by setting an indoor school record. Barnhart set a new personal record in the 800-meter as well.
Senior Grace Dalton was the Miner who shined on the girls side, making the finals of the 200-meter race. Although Yocum believes she would’ve placed in the top-10 of the 400-meter race, Dalton chose to run the 200, a decision Yocum fully supported.
“For the seniors, it’s their last races of the year on the indoor circuit, and because they can only complete in one individual event, I let them choose what they want to compete in,” he said.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.