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Sugar House Journal

Highland track and field has best region finishes in years

May 16, 2018 11h32 ● By Josh McFadden

The Highland track and field team capped off its regular season with a region title on the girls’ side and a runner-up finish for the boys. (Photo/Jenny Mauro)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]                 

As Highland track and field head coach Gary Rowles looked back on this season, he realized all the hard work and effort paid off in a big way. He and his athletes were rewarded with one of the most successful seasons in school history.

The Highland girls won the region title for the first time in the school’s existence, while the boys team took second for its best finish in a decade. The girls scored 194 points at the region meet, well ahead of second-place Olympus, which had 128.

“Our teams did a great job at region,” Rowles said. “The girls had a dominating performance. Our boys wanted to finish in the top four, and they finished second to Olympus, beating East, Skyline, Murray and West in a much tighter race. Our boys were balanced in their scoring with no dominant athletes. Overall, we probably couldn’t have had a much better day.”

Five of the girls combined for 132 points at region. Meg Boren, Annie Murdock and Amy Frank went 1, 2, 3 or 1, 2 in all their races, and all three ran on relay teams. All three athletes return next season. In the throws, seniors Lili Ahoafi-noa and Sini Fifita won all three throws and placed in the others. They are among the top three throwers in the state in the shot put, discus and javelin. Rowles said it will be difficult to replace their outstanding leadership.

Other standouts on the girls team were Moira Hicks, Sophie Smith, Lili Fifita and Lana Olevao. Hicks was second in the high jump, third in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles. Lili Fifita placed fifth in the shot put and sixth in the discus. Olevao was fifth in the javelin and seventh in the shot put.

For the boys, Jonah Gaye, Jaycee Galvin and Nick Pembrooke turned out first-place finishes, teaming up in the 100 relay event. Rex Graham was second in the high jump, and Xavier Hutton was second in the 110 hurdles.

“I've been doing this for a long time, and there's nothing more exciting than watching a relay team that's practiced all season and been beat by other teams, to put it all together and win region titles,” Rowles said. “We got to see that with our boys 4x100 relay team and our girls 4x400 relay team win region titles.”

In all, 23 Highland athletes qualified for the state tournament the third week of May.

Rowles couldn’t be happier with the successful season his boys and girls put together.

“I loved to see just how much these athletes improved from the start to the finish,” he said. “In March and the first of April when it was cold and windy every practice and meet, it would have been easy to back off and take it easy. But these kids responded to us pushing through those tough days, saying there's better days and weather ahead, and when the weather came the last two weeks, they came on like barnstormers, both our boys and girls teams.”

Heading into state, Rowles knew the Rams would have their work cut out for them against other Class 5A competition. Corner Canyon, Timpview, West, Maple Mountain and Box Elder are all excellent squads.

“Our goal is to have our best individual performances at the state meet and then see how it all shapes up,” Rowles said.