State Track SATURDAY Landon

Emmett’s Landon Helms competes in the 4A boys 110 meter hurdles during State track and field finals Saturday.

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You can always count on unsettled weather and lots of twists and turns at the Idaho High School Track and Field championships each spring. This year was no different, and despite some stunning disappointments, the Emmett High rallied to post one of its strongest performances at the 4A level in years.

Pacing the way for the Huskies were repeat State champions in Landon Helms and Lacy Yates – each winning a pair of crowns last weekend. Senior Axel Sanchez hit a personal best to win the shot put. Sophomore Tatum Richards set a new Idaho High School all-classification record for the girls pole vault in winning that event.

Helms had perhaps the most erratic weekend emotionally. The junior successfully defended the pole vault and 110 meter titles he won in 2019 as a freshman. He fell short of a triple title coup, however. One of the favorites in the 300 meter hurdles, Helms was leading his heat by nearly 8 yards on Friday when he crashed on the final hurdle. He got up in time to finish next to last in his heat but failed to qualify for the finals. He nearly counterbalanced that disappointment with a strong showing in the long jump, missing his personal record by less than two inches and brought home a fourth place medal in the event.

Helms only took up the long jump this spring to start getting back in shape for the hurdles and vault after a series of foot surgeries this past year.

Neither title was easy to come by. While no one really challenged Helms in the pole vault, his aspirations to go after the overall State record in the event were stymied in part by cold and wet weather at the Eagle High track and field facility.

After clearing at 15 feet to more than assure the first place position, Helms had the bar raised to 15’7” as he attempted to raise his own State 4A record of 15’6” set in 2019. Into gusting winds and sporadic showers he failed in three attempts.

In the 110 meter hurdles finals on Saturday Helms got off to a slow start. He has battled Middleton’s Mason Nichols all season in the event and usually trailed the Viking until the third hurdle. Saturday he didn’t catch Nichols until the final hurdle. Helms stretched across the finish line in a time of 14.89 ahead of Nichols’ 14.95.

Sanchez got some level of redemption for failing to make the State discus field by scratching out at Districts. Sanchez got off a heave of 54’2” in the shot put preliminaries and painfully watched it hold up. He tapped out on his final two opportunities in the finals due to back spasms and watched teammate Tyler Barry nearly catch him. Barry’s 51’4” effort earned him second place. Barry then experienced some of Sanchez’s pain on Saturday, failing to get any of his three preliminary throws into the discus landing sector and unable to move to the finals. The discus events were heavily effected by wet weather that made footing in the launch areas very dicey.

Yates certainly felt the effects of the weather in her weight events. She also felt the pressure of Bishop Kelly’s Jacoba Luteyn. Luteyn had beaten Yates at District’s in the shot put. Yates made a new definition of winning by a nose last weekend.

On Friday the Emmett senior saved her best throw in the discus for last. On her final attempt Yates nailed a mark of 130’7”. Beating Luteyn by two inches. Saturday Yates hit a personal best of 38’11” to beat Luteyn by one inch and claim her first State shot put crown – she was fifth in the shot put in 2018. Yates had won the discus as a freshman and placed third on a broken foot in 2019.

Richards continued to excel at leaving little time to think. The sophomore calmly waited for the 4A pole vault competition to work its way to a height she wanted to enter. Before she could step in, she had to step out and run the 100 meter hurdles finals. Richards scored points for the Huskies placing fifth in the event and then stepped off the track directly into the pole vault venue and made her first attempt – clearing at 11 feet to assure herself of first or second. Richards was the only one able to clear at 11’6” and then again at 12. With rain picking up Richards had them move the standard to 12’8” – one inch beyond the existing State record – and sailed over it. While she could have continued competing against herself, Richards opted to call it good and not risk injury with a busy summer vaulting season still ahead.

All four of Emmett’s newly crowned State title holders are currently planning to participate in the Outdoor Nationals for High School athletes at the University of Oregon the end of June.

With three State titles on each the boys and girls side of the competition, Emmett’s ten person contingent scored enough points that the boys team brought home a fourth place team trophy. The Huskie boys finished the meet with 49 points. BK won the boys title with 97 points, Pocatello second with 55 and Sandpoint third with 50. Five of the seven Huskies performing on the boys side of the field scored points by finishing in the top eight. Five of them earned All-State honors and a podium trip for medals. In addition to Helms, Sanchez and Barry, junior Caden Young took sixth in the 300 meter hurdles and sophomore Hunter Enick grabbed sixth in the discus. Beauhunter Brown recorded a PR in the shotput to finish ninth and junior Silas Massey finished 14 in the 400 meters.

The Emmett girls, with a three-member contingent, finished eighth out of 23 teams with 34 points. Bishop Kelly won its sixth straight team title for 4A girls.

Leyna Winegar was the Huskies tenth competitor at State. A sophomore, Winegar had her pole knock off the cross bar after she landed safely in the pit and did not score in the pole vault.

It’s the boys strongest showing in the 4A ranks for Emmett since at least 2005. Emmett claimed a third-place trophy in 2016 in its final year in the 3A division. Emmett has never won a boys’ track and field title but the Huskies have no less than five girls titles, four in the 3A ranks — the last in 2015 — and a 4A title in 2005.

The State meet in 2005 had some of the same turbulence for Emmett as this year. Megan Rolland was favored in several distance events but saw her opportunities curtailed by breaking a foot in a first-day relay event. Matt Lamb, who held four EHS school records until this year, suffered a hamstring injury at Districts and while he still won his discus and shot put events in State record performances, was unable to perform in the two sprint races he still has school records for.

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