ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Shane Gard, sr., Pocatello

The story has been told before — so many times, in fact, that the basic contours of the narrative are getting worn down, old news, slightly boring like the commercial that’s been on TV too many times.

As a junior, Shane Gard disappointed at the state cross country championships, finishing 20th. Then his track season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lines will keep getting repeated — the story will keep getting told — because of how Gard followed up that lost year in 2020-21.

4A state champion and All-Area Athlete of the Year in cross country. And now, three-time state champion and All-Area Athlete of the Year in track.

“I’ve been working my tail off for this since cross country ended, and it just feels great when I can put down a goal and achieve it. It didn’t come easy. It’s hard to triple the long-distance events at state,” Gard said after a 4A state championship meet in which he won the 800, 1600 and 3200, and was a pulled hamstring away from winning the 4x400 relay as well.

Pocatello — the city, not just the high school — has seen plenty of long-distance legends. Gard only added to that legendary history in 2021.

He lost just three races all season, out of 30 that he started:

- The 800 at the Tiger-Grizz Invite, by .92 of a second to Idaho Falls’ 800 ace Zac Bright.

- The 3200 at the same meet, by .43 of a second to Idaho Falls freshman Luke Athay.

- The 4x400 at the state championships, when he pulled his hamstring on the anchor lap with a lead and just over 100 meters to go.

He had the third-fastest time in the state in the 800, behind Bright and Highland’s Jacob Van Orden, and the second-fastest in both the 1600 and 3200, behind maybe Idaho’s greatest-ever distance runner, top national recruit Nathan Green of Borah.

And, in his final-ever meet, he blew away the field at the 4A state championships, winning the 800 by over two seconds, the 1600 by nearly four and the 3200 by a full five.

Not bad for a comeback story — and comeback stories are the ones that people don’t mind hearing over and over again.

“Shane just gets out there and works hard,” Pocatello coach Rick Call said. “He asks what he needs to do and goes and does it.”

100-METER DASH

Jonah Sowell, sr., Century

Notable: 4A District 5 champion

The lowdown: Sowell’s time of 11.04 seconds at the early-season Kimberly Invite was the fastest all year by a local runner. After four second-place finishes in six meets to start the year, he broke through with wins at the Pocatello City Meet and 4A District 5 championships before falling to 11th at the state meet.

200-METER DASH

Jonah Sowell, sr., Century

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, fifth at 4A state meet

The lowdown: Sowell again had the fastest time of any local athlete — 22.59 seconds, set at the district meet. In fact, he was one of only two local runners to break 23 seconds all year. After just barely qualifying for the final at the 4A state meet with the eighth-fastest time in prelims, he moved up to fifth in the final by clocking a time of 22.99.

400-METER DASH

Dallan Morse, jr., Blackfoot

Notable: 4A District 6 champion, second at 4A state meet

The lowdown: Morse won the 400 at two early-season quad meets, but his real success was at the end of the season. First, he ran 50.87 seconds — more than a second faster than his previous season-best and a whopping four seconds faster than his prelim mark — to win the 4A District 6 championship. Then he went 49.72 to finish second at the 4A state meet — the sixth-fastest time in the state all year.

800-METER RACE

Jacob Van Orden, jr., Highland

Notable: 5A District 5/6 runner-up, 5A state runner-up

The lowdown: In a fiercely competitive event — five of the top eight 800 times in the state this year were by local runners — Van Orden stood at the top. His time of 1:53.79 at the 5A state championships was the top local time all year and second in the state to Idaho Falls’ Zac Bright. Bright and All-Area Athlete of the Year Shane Gard were the only runners to beat Van Orden, who finished no lower than third in his nine races.

1600-METER RACE

Sam Jeppsen, sr., Preston

Notable: 4A District 5 runner-up, 4A state runner-up

The lowdown: Jeppsen was Gard’s closest rival in the 1600, never beating the Poky star but finishing second to him in three meets, including both the district and state championships. His time at state was a PR of 4:19.34, which was the sixth-fastest in the state all year.

3200-METER RACE

Jared Harden, sr., Highland

Notable: fourth at 5A District 5/6 meet, third at 5A state meet

The lowdown: Harden beat his previous season-best time by nearly 15 seconds at the 5A state meet, running 9:21.20 to finish third behind Borah superstar Nathan Green and Idaho Falls freshman Luke Athay. He also won the event at the early-season Highland Quad and Gold Baton Relays.

110-METER HURDLES

Rylan Anderson, jr., Snake River

Notable: 3A District 5 champion, fourth at 3A state meet

The lowdown: Anderson won the 110 hurdles at six of his first nine meets before the state championships, finishing second in two others. He broke 16 seconds for the first time with a 15.57 to win districts, and then went 15.54 in the prelims and 15.64 in the finals at the 3A state meet. All three times were faster than any other local runner managed this year.

300-METER HURDLES

Brecker Knapp, jr., Preston

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, fifth at 4A state meet

The lowdown: Knapp’s time of 41.04 at the 4A District 5 meet was the best time by a local runner, although he likely didn’t need it, considering he’d run a full second slower in the prelims and still finished first. He went 41.99 for a fifth-place finish at the state meet the week after, capping a year in which he never finished lower than sixth in the event.

RELAYS

Pocatello’s sprint medley relay

Ethan Bidwell, Brody Burch, Krue Hales, Sunny Gunn

Notable: 4A District 5 champions, 4A state runner-up

The lowdown: With a top mark of 3:34.35, Pocatello’s sprint medley relay was just four-hundredths of a second behind Canyon Ridge for the top time in the state. The Indians captured a district title before falling short against Canyon Ridge again at state.

SHOT PUT

Titan Fleischmann, sr., Century

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, fifth at 4A state meet

The lowdown: After beating him at the season-opening Canyon Ridge Quad, Titan finished behind his younger brother Bruin Fleischmann in six straight meets, five of which Bruin won. But the advantage flipped back around to Titan in the most important meets of the season, as he threw a personal best of 50 feet, 4 inches to win the district title and finished fifth to Bruin’s seventh at the 4A state meet.

DISCUS

Bristin Corrigan, sr., Highland

Notable: 5A District 5/6 champion, eighth at 5A state meet

The lowdown: Corrigan uncorked a personal-best throw of 152 feet, 3 inches — the 11th-best in the state this year — to win the HCC Invite. After starting slowly, he broke 140 feet at seven meets in a row. That was a mark only one other local athlete, Century senior Jaxsen Tuia, managed to hit all year. Corrigan threw 146’ 3” to take a district title before falling to 133’ 10” and an eighth-place finish at state.

HIGH JUMP

Taite Priestley, sr., Preston

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, 4A state champion

The lowdown: Priestley suffered a torn meniscus during basketball season, but put off surgery and battled his way to a legendary year. He won all seven meets he competed in and was the only jumper in Idaho to clear 6 feet, 10 inches, which he did at the Tiger-Grizz Invite. Only 12 athletes in the country managed to clear a higher bar. Priestley cleared 6’ 8”, a mark only two other jumpers in Idaho managed even once, in four straight meets in the middle of the season. His mark of 6’ 4” at the state championships wasn’t up to that standard, but it was still good enough for a state title.

POLE VAULT

Benson Palmer, sr., Preston

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, 4A state runner-up

The lowdown: Palmer broke 13 feet for the first time at the 4A District 5 championships, with a mark of 13 feet, 6 inches and a district title. A week later at state, he zoomed another foot past that new PR, clearing the bar at 14’ 6” and finishing second — a full foot-and-a-half better than the third-place finisher and the sixth-best mark in the state all year.

LONG JUMP

Felippe Cataluna, sr., American Falls

Notable: 3A District 5 champion, fourth at 4A state meet

The lowdown: Cataluna won the long jump at five of seven meets before the state championships, building up to a mark of 21 feet, 8.75 inches at the 3A District 5 championships that was two feet better than the runner-up and 13th best in the state all year. He broke 21 feet again at the state championships but just barely — 21’ 0.5” — and finished fourth.

TRIPLE JUMP

Hayden Robinson, jr., West Side

Notable: 2A District 5 champion, third at 2A state meet

The lowdown: In the only event without a local athlete in the top 25 in the state, Robinson stood out. He won the triple jump at four out of six meets, jumped 41 feet, 9.5 inches — the best local mark this year — to win the Bear Lake Invite, won the 2A District title and finished third at the 2A state meet.

SECOND TEAM

100-METER DASH

Dane Wissenbach, sr., Marsh Valley

Notable: 3A District 5 champion, fourth at 3A state meet

200-METER DASH

Bryler Shurtliff, jr., West Side

Notable: 2A District 5 champion, sixth at 2A state meet

400-METER DASH

Rylan Anderson, jr., Snake River

Notable: 3A District 5 champion, third at 3A state meet

800-METER RACE

Brody Burch, so., Pocatello

Notable: 4A District 5 runner-up, 4A state runner-up

1600-METER RACE

Xander Thompson, sr., Century

Notable: third place at 4A District 5 meet, fourth place at 4A state meet

3200-METER RACE

Xander Thompson, sr., Century

Notable: third place at 4A District 5 meet, 4A state runner-up

110-METER HURDLES

Brecker Knapp, jr., Preston

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, fifth at 4A state meet

300-METER HURDLES

Easton Henderson, jr., West Side

Notable: 2A District 5 champion, eighth at 2A state meet

RELAYS

Pocatello’s 4x400 relay

Notable: 4A District 5 champion

SHOT PUT

Bruin Fleischmann, jr., Century

Notable: 4A District 5 runner-up, seventh at 4A state meet

DISCUS

Bruin Fleischmann, jr., Century

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, fifth at 4A state meet

HIGH JUMP

Christian Bush, fr., Bear Lake

Notable: 2A District 5 runner-up, 2A state champion

POLE VAULT

Scott Hunsaker, sr., Soda Springs

Notable: Won Soda Springs and Bear Lake Invites by clearing 13’ 6”, a foot better than any other local vaulter besides first-teamer Benson Palmer

LONG JUMP

Tyler Vance, jr., Blackfoot

Notable: 4A District 5 champion, sixth at 4A state meet

TRIPLE JUMP

Porter Sutton, so., Marsh Valley

Notable: 3A District 5 champion, 10th at 3A state meet