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Sugar House Journal

Rams excited to get back outdoors for track and field season

Mar 25, 2019 11h56 ● By Josh McFadden

(From left) Highland High School girls track and field competitors Annie Murdock, Amy Frank and Meg Boren race to the finish line in a meet from last season. (Photo courtesy of Gary Rowles)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

At long last, the spring sports season has begun, and Highland High School track and field athletes couldn’t be more excited. 

The Rams finished in the middle of the pack last season at the Class 5A state meet, with the girls placing eighth out of 19 teams with 44 points, only 2.5 points behind the fifth-place team. This season, Highland has a good group of returning competitors who qualified for the 2018 state meet. The experience and talent brings a lot of optimism to the squad.

“Our team goals are always to compete for a region championship,” head coach Gary Rowles said. “In order to do that, we will need to continue to improve throughout the season and stay healthy, and then count on some of our newcomers to step up alongside our veterans.”

Though Rowles said it’s too early to identify new athletes who’ll fill key roles in different events, he is happy that 150 athletes finished the two-week tryout sessions. He also has some talented competitors to turn to for points on the field and on the track as well as for leadership in meets and practices. 

On the boys team, Rowles is eager to see what sprinters Lynn Aung, Nick Pembroke and Jonah Gaye can do. Jumpers Rex Graham and Ben Nielsen, along with throwers Lingi Latu and Christian Hiborn, should be forces in their events. Distance runners Jacob Limburg and Elijah Adams have experience competing in big meets. 

“All are seasoned performers,” Rowles said of the boys. Aung, Pembroke, Gaye, Graham, Nielsen and Latu each competed at the state meet a year ago.

On the girls team, Meg Boren, Amy Frank and Annie Murdock look to improve their times in the sprint events. Hurdler Moira Hicks, jumper Lourdes Lyon and throwers Lili Fifita, Naini Maile and Olivia Manavahe know what it’s like to go up against the top competitors in 5A. Distance runners Geneva Humbert and Roma Maloney also have the potential to make it to the state meet. Boren, Frank, Murdock, Hicks and Fifita were each state finalists in 2018. 

Unlike in other sports, in track, an athletes individual performance can’t affect how the competition does. This means the athletes must simply work hard to improve their own times and get better throughout the year in their events. However, track and field is like any other sport in that avoiding injuries is critical to success and achieving goals.

“For both teams, the key is remaining healthy,” Rowles said. “A few of our athletes came into the season with a few injuries that we're nursing along now, but none appear to be long term.” 

Rowles also said he wants to see bigger things from those athletes competing in relay events. It’s also important that some new team members emerge to help make up for those who finished their eligibility last year.

“We need to show improvement in our relays in order to compete at the state level, so we'll be working harder on those this season,” he said. “And we will need newcomers to step up on both boys and girls teams to fill some of the gaps left by graduation last year.”

The Rams started the 2019 campaign the second week of March and will continue with practices and meets all the way up until the state meet, which for 5A and 6A schools takes place May 16 and 18 at Brigham Young University. Rowles is excited for the season to get underway.

“It's always exciting to watch the progress that athletes make that are new to the sport,” Rowles said. “We always end up with a few surprises. We also have a core of three girl sprinters in Boren, Frank and Murdock that are among the fastest in the state, so we look forward to watching them progress throughout the season. Our jumpers Graham and Nielsen came on strong at the end of the season and appear stronger this year, so I'm looking forward to their performances this year.”