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Sugar House Journal

Big numbers highlight Highland track and field

Apr 11, 2018 11h20 ● By Josh Mc Fadden

In the world of high school track and field, any coach will tell you this: the more the merrier. 

The larger your roster is, the more event spots you can fill with starter and reserves. This increases a team’s chance of scoring points in every event and vying for top finishes at meets. For Highland High School track and field coach Gary Rowles, numbers are perhaps more important than ever. 

The Rams begin the 2018 season with 170 athletes. As Rowles puts it, that figure is “pretty evenly split between boys and girls squads.” Rowles is particularly excited about the girls team, which returns several region placers from last season.

“Seniors Misini Fifita and Lili Ahoafi-noa return in the throws, where [Ahoafi-noa] placed at state in the javelin, and [Fifita] made the finals in the shot put,” Rowles said. “Our sprinters are led by Meg Boren, who went to state in the sprints and made the finals in the 400 meters.”

Rowles also highlighted girls team members Geneva Humbert and Roma Maloney, both of whom are distance runners. Also, keep a close eye on Moira Hicks in the hurdles and high jump, along with Amy Frank in the sprints and Lourdes Lyons in the long jump.

The boys team suffered heavy graduations, so the squad will reload with some younger athletes. The boys have a single returning state qualifier: shot put participant KJ Pakofe. Rowles is hopeful that Xavier Hutton will step forward in the hurdles and that Rex Graham can continue to improve in the high jump and long jump. Kyle Adams and Nick Pembrooke will also see a larger role in the distance and sprinting events, respectively. 

“With such large numbers out this season, we will have a number of others who will emerge once the season starts, so we are looking forward to a good season,” Rowles said as the season got underway.

The Utah High School Activities Association created Class 6A this school year, so the Rams have moved to Class 5A’s Region 6. As a result, Highland will see a handful of new opponents. Its region foes are Skyline, Olympus, East, West and Murray. 

Rowles isn’t too familiar with his opponents, so there are a lot of unknowns going into the season.

“We are in a new region this year, so, other than East, we don’t know a lot about the other schools,” he said. “All of them have been successful in track and field at different times in the past, so we expect our region to be highly competitive.”

The Rams began their season March 14 when they joined Skyline for a meet at Olympus High School against the Titans. The team hosted Murray and Olympus on March 21. The region championships will take place May 9–10 at East High School, and the state track and field meet is slated for May 17–18 at Brigham Young University.