By Coach Mark Roberts
The Lyons Lions track team returned from this year’s state track meet with two runner-up trophies. The girls team went into the meet in a virtual tie with several other schools in the battle for second place, and well behind the projected point total for the #1 ranked girls’ team from Highland. When the dust, or rain, had settled
at the end of the three days, the Lyons’ girls were comfortably in 2nd place with 64 points after giving Highland a run for their money as the Huskies totaled 75.5 points. Third place went to Soroco with 52 points, followed by Meeker with 51 points and Peyton with 48. The boys entered the state meet a close second to Resurrection Christian and just ahead of Cedaredge and Hoehne in the virtual rankings. When the meet concluded under overcast skies on Saturday, Lyons had tallied 58 points to tie Cedaredge for second place and just five points behind Resurrection Christian’s total of 63. Hoehne was just a whisker behind with 56 points of their own.
Thursday started well for the Lions with prelims in several events and finals in the 3200 relays and boys’ long jump. Aidan Christiansen, Drew Booth and Tristan Chavez all qualified for the long jump by virtue of finishing in the top 18 during the regular season. Jumping into a strong headwind, their distances weren’t what they’d hoped for, but Tristan was 12th, Drew was 11th, and Aidan finished on the medal stand in 8th to start the Lyons scoring. All three gained valuable experience, and as underclassmen, should be back next year to move up in the standings. Jackson Reeves finished 13th in the 100 dash prelims, both 800 relay teams advanced to the finals on Friday, Charlotte Rogers made finals in the 100 hurdles, Nathan Radich ran his best time of the season to finish 12th in the 110 hurdles in 16.73, and Nate Christy had the 3rd best time in the 110s to qualify for finals with his 15.43. At 4:45, the girls 3200 relay team of Madeline Watts, Hannah Paton, Alora Cross, and Katie Fankhouser had their date with destiny coming in with a 12th place seed time. Maddie opened with a 2:34 split, Hannah ran 2:39, Alora ran a PR of 2:39, and Katie maintained the team’s position with her 2:26 to claim a 4th place finish in a season-best time of 10:21.24. The boys’ team of Field Soosloff, Adam Crowl, Isaac Roberts, and Colton Jonjak-Plahn were inspired by the girls' strong effort, and motivated by their 2nd place finish the previous year when they were .13 seconds behind Cedaredge. Adam Crowl replaced Ethan Burton from the previous year’s team, and Field, Isaac, and Colton were ready for their revenge tour. The boys were seeded 6th with an 8:36, having never run the whole crew at the same time during the regular season while waiting for Field to recover from an early-season hamstring injury. Field opened with a 2:02.7 to give Adam a lead, and Adam ran a steady, patient race to give the baton to Isaac in a tie for first with his 2:06.6 split. Isaac proceeded to open a 4-second lead over the #1 seeded team from Burlington with his 2:00.7 split. Colton ran a patient opening lap in 59 seconds, and was passed by the anchor leg from Burlington at the beginning of the last lap. Colton settled in behind Micah Hanson, waited until 150 meters remained, and kicked home in 2:02.3 to win by 4 seconds and set a new school record of 8:12.7! The day concluded with Ethan Burton and Nate Christy finishing 13th and 14th respectively in the 200 prelims and Ethan qualifying for finals in the 400 by virtue of his 7th place finish in prelims.
Friday started with the 400 relay prelims for both boys and girls, and while the girls managed to sneak into finals with a 9th place finish in prelims, the 3rd seeded boys missed a handoff and failed to advance. This was the first of three tough-luck events for the boys. The 3200 meter runs followed, and Georgia Barone and Kylee Udovich ran season-best times to claim the 8th and 9th spots on the podium with times of 12:46.56 and 12:47.66 respectively. In the boys’ race, Isaac Roberts took 2nd in 9:55.55, Field Soosloff was 7th in a season-best time of 10:22.61, and Simon Stone finished 13th in 10:40. Charlotte Rogers advanced in the 300 hurdle prelims, and then the second bad-luck event for the boys deprived them of another scoring opportunity when Nathan Radich ran his best time of the season (40.78) and appeared to have claimed one of the automatic qualifying spots by virtue of his 3rd place finish in his prelim, but he was subsequently disqualified for dislodging a hurdle in an opponent’s lane when his trail leg caught the second to last barrier. In the field events, Bianca Mesagno had a tough day in the long jump with a best of 14-7.5 for 14th, Ixchel Leeuwenburgh added some much needed points in the shot put by claiming 4th place with her best throw of the season (34-11.75) after being seeded 15th, and the trio of Logan Kuskie, Katie Fankhouser, and Hana Fankhouser began their assault on the pole vault runway. Hana went 7-11 to finish 14th, Katie cleared 9-8 to claim 3rd, and Logan broke the school record held by her older sister Brenna by 1 inch with her 11-2 vault and kept the state championship in the family for another year. Logan was runner-up to Brenna in 2017. Katie’s efforts were temporarily suspended at the vault when she stepped over the track to the girls’ 800 start. She ran her best time of the year to finish 6th in 2:24.31. Colton Jonjak-Plahn followed in the boys’ 800 with a 4th place in his best time of 2:00.14 with a well-executed race plan. The finals of the 800 relay saw senior Hana Fankhouser take some of her frustration from the vault out on the track, and her sub-28 opening leg was a key to the girls’ team of Fankhouser, Alexa Karsel, Hannah Paton and Charlotte Rogers breaking the 1:50 barrier for the first time to finish in 1:49.24 and move from 6th to 2nd from prelims to finals. Rogers closing leg of 26.6 matched her cousin Alexa’s time and held off the Vail Christian girls by .07 of a second! The boys’ team of Nathan Radich, Jackson Reeves, Nate Christy, and Ethan Burton followed suit with their best time of the season and a 3rd place finish in 1:32.68. The boys’ triple jump had two young Lions with freshman Aidan Christiansen and new-to-track this year, junior Drew Booth. They gained valuable experience with Aidan getting a season-best jump of 39-8.5 to finish 12th and Drew going 38-7.5 to finish 15th. 40-foot jumps will be in their future, and teammate Tristan Chavez should be joining them in the 40-foot club as well. The day culminated with prelims in the 1600 relay. After a short weather delay the girls held serve, entering with the 2nd best seed time, and they ran 4:18.72 to claim a spot in finals. The boys were also seeded 2nd coming into the event, and in an effort to rest Ethan Burton for his races on Saturday, they used an alternate in the prelims. Jackson Reeves, Colton Jonjak-Plahn, Nathan Schneider, and Issac Roberts ran a solid time of 3:35.66, but the rest of the 2A boys’ teams also ran well, and when the dust had settled, the Lyons boys were the last team out of finals by .09 of a second.
The team gathered their belongings, hustled to the bus with Lyons’ favorite driver, Mr. Dan Grove, and avoided the second weather delay of the late afternoon to head back to the Roberts’ Farm for Mrs. Roberts’ world-famous spaghetti pizza.
Saturday dawned with little sun, lots of clouds, and a forecast for rain. The start of the field events was delayed by an hour, and everything began at 9:30 with a steady drizzle occasionally turning to steady rain. Clothed in cut-off trash bags, the Lyons athletes started at the girls’ discus cheering for Ixchel Leeuwenburgh. She managed a season-best throw of 109-8 to take 7th and add a 3 more points to the Lions’ tally. Charlotte Rogers added another point when she finished 9th in the 100 hurdles, and Nate Christy ran his best time of the year (15.34) with a 3rd place finish in the 110 hurdles. Catherine Darrow joined the Special Olympic runners in a 100-meter dash and a season best of 17.94. Colton Jonjak-Plahn cleared the opening height in the boys’ high jump (5-8), and finished 13th. The girls’ 1600 saw Kylee Udovich place 14th in 5:56.59, and the boys’ final scoring opportunity of the day left them with 58 points when Isaac Roberts ran to a 3rd (4:36.74) and Field Soosloff took 9th in his best time of the year, 4:40.91. Sophomore Simon Stone gained some additional valuable experience with his 16th place 4:49.80, and he should be a point-contributor the next two years in the distance races. The boys began the waiting game to see if their total would stand up for a trophy. Meanwhile the girls continued to add points to their total with Charlotte Roger’s 8th in the 300 hurdles. (She ran her season-best of 48.35 in the prelims.) Bianca Mesagno added 4 points in the triple jump with a bound of 33-2.75 to claim 6th, and the girls’ 400 relay team of Hana Fankhouser, Alexa Karsel, Emily VanLeeuwen, and Hannah Paton moved from the 9th seed to a 7th place finish in 52.29. The girls knew they had separated from the rest of the field in the girls’ team race, and the Highland girls were having a few struggles, but a 2nd place finish in the 400 relay and 3 girls in the triple jump secured Highland the points they needed to claim the team title. The Lyons’ girls had one last order of business with the 1600 relay. Alexa Karsel had returned from scoring the only Silver Creek goal of the game in a losing effort in the semi-finals of the state tournament against topped-ranked Windsor earlier that day to run one more relay leg with Hannah Paton, Katie Fankhouser, and Charlotte Rogers. The quartet of sophomore girls ran their best time of the season to finish 3rd in 4:12.32 and set themselves up nicely for a run at a relay state championship the next two years.