Matejah Mangum has a way of making everything sound so simple. She blazes through races, a blur of Pocatello navy and red zooming away from the pack in the 100, a slender sophomore burning competitors multiple years her elder. But she makes it all sound so straightforward — like she’s baking a cake or filling up her gas tank.

“I fixed my blocks a couple days ago,” she says, right after she clocked an 11.97 100-meter dash, good for first at the 4A District 5 meet and another spot at the state meet. “It was definitely one of my better races. I felt way better, so I’m hoping I beat my PR. It felt like it.”

That’s the thing with Mangum, though: To set a PR, Mangum has to do better than 11.97. Her best is 11.94, which she set in early April. That made her the fastest girl in the state, regardless of classifications. It also made her just the third girl in nine years to record a time under 12 seconds.

That’s the long-winded way of saying the obvious: Mangum is fast.

Sometimes that’s all it is. Mangum isn’t some experienced track athlete who has finally broken through and snuck atop the leaderboards. She’s bolted to the top with burners

“She just has that speed,” Poky coach Rick Call said, “and she knows what she wants. We teach them not to run with their hands clenched, but she almost has her hands clenched, like, I’m gonna get this. And she just has that determination, and she goes out after it.”

Mangum recorded first-place finishes in all four of her events at Friday’s 4A/3A District 5 meet at Highland: In the 100, 200, 4x100 and 4x200, earning a trip back to state, where she advanced last season in the same four events.

The Poky girls took second at this weekend’s district meet, carding 67 points, good for a second-place finish behind Preston’s 87. Century came in third with 24 points.

The other district races shook out like this:

3A Girls

1. Snake River, 93

2. Marsh Valley, 57

3. American Falls, 28

3A Boys

1. Snake River, 105

2. Marsh Valley, 51

3. American Falls, 22

4A Boys

1. Preston, 76.5

2. Pocatello, 57

3. Century, 44.5

That added up to repeat titles from the Indians, who captured both team titles at last season’s district meet as well. This year, Preston got several standout showings. Those included: the girls 400, where Elly Jeppsen, Addelin Romney and Hailey Meek went 1-2-3. Both hurdles events, where Brecker Knapp and Charles Iverson finished 1-2 in each. In the shot put, Azakia Knapp and Ellie Nelson placed first and second, respectively, and in the discus, Knapp took first and Preston placed the next three finishers: Olivia Tracy, Nelson and Anna Burnett, the last of whom set a PR with a mark of 85-04.50.

Pocatello’s boys and girls teams earned second-place finishes by spreading their work around in much the same way. Junior Krue Hales won the 400 in 52.86 seconds, Brody Burch and Sunny Gunn went 1-2 in the 800 and Bailey Bird qualified for state in both the 1600 and 3200 by winning each race. Senior Matt Christensen won the long jump, measuring at 20-10.00, and recorded a second-place finish in the triple jump. Poky junior Carter Sherry won that event with a mark of 42-05.00.

A young Century team also sent a few people to state. Senior Bruin Fleischmann won the shot put, posting a 50-08.00 mark, and Nash Harding finished third with a PR, 45-00.00. Harding also won the discus, tossing it 142 feet, 2 inches, while Fleischmann finished second with a mark of 140-04. For Harding and Fleischmann, both of those scores were PRs.

“I was really excited for them,” Century coach Bill Vasas said. “We had a lot of PRs all over, for a lot of kids. A lot of kids moved up in the rankings. Like I said, we’re young, but we had a lot of kids step up and move up in the rankings today. Not quite to get to state, but the kids have really performed today.”

In the 5A District 5/6 meet, which took place in Rexburg, Highland’s girls team won the team title, scoring 118 points. Junior Ruby Jordan earned district titles in both the shot put and discus, with marks of 38’ 9.5 (PR) and 130’3, respectively. Senior Kenadee Tracy earned first in the triple jump, leaping 34’9.5, and the Rams’ 4x800 relay team also won a district title with Hannah Bailey, Josi Dahlstrom, Grace Kosmicki and Emma McCormick.

Highland’s boys team finished fifth with 16 points, but senior Jacob Van Orden won the 800 in 1:58.16 and took fourth in the 200 with a time of 24.55 seconds. He qualified for state in both events.

Here is how the 5A meet unfolded.

5A Girls

1. Highland, 118

2. Rigby, 102

3. Madison, 79

4. Idaho Falls, 42

5. Thunder Ridge, 33

5A Boys

1. Rigby, 134.5

2. Madison, 119.5

3. Thunder Ridge, 71

4. Idaho Falls, 33

5. Highland, 16

Still, nobody starred quite like Mangum. She’s taken second place, both times in the 100, for a reason. In fact, both times she finished second, she came in behind the same culprit: Skyline junior Claire Petersen. Mangum leads the state with her 11.94 100 time, but Petersen is right there. Her best is 12 seconds even.

Ask Mangum herself and you realize it’s turned into a benefit. When the two meet at next weekend’s state meet, set for Friday and Saturday at Dona Larsen Park (5A/4A) and Middleton High (3A/2A/1A) in the Boise area, it will show like it never quite has.

“I’m thankful that she’s here to push me in it,” Mangum said. “I work hard either way, but I like having someone to push me. Winning all the time, it’s great and everything, but sometimes, I don’t know if I’m being my best, if I don’t have someone in front of me to push me. I like having that around.”

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Greg Woods is a sports reporter at the Idaho State Journal. Follow him on Twitter at GregWWoods.