A number of track and field athletes from the Pocatello-based Eastern Idaho Track Club will head to Jacksonville in 10 days for the United States Track and Field National Junior Olympics after impressive performances at regionals in Orem, Utah.
Following up her impressive freshman season at Pocatello – a first-year campaign in which she won the 4A state title in the 200 meters and set school records in the 100 and 200 – Matejah Mangum showed out on a larger stage at regionals.
In the 15-16-year old girls age group, Mangum took first in the 100 (12.32 seconds), 200 (25.40) and 4x100 (49.89) along with Rigby’s Abby Hancock, Highland’s Tambree Bell and Pocatello’s Addie Tensel.
“At one point we were ranked No. 4 in the nation and then we’ve bumped down to No. 8 right now,” said Eastern Idaho Track Club head coach DJ Clark. “This was probably be one of the better relay teams Idaho has ever had just because we’re taking from a couple different high schools.
“That was kind of the big thing when I was putting the team together this year was that I wanted to be able to put a team together that could compete against the (teams in) Florida, Texas and California.”
Hancock finished second in the 100 and third in the 200, qualifying for nationals in both. Bell will also be racing in both the 100 and 200 in Jacksonville after finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, at regionals. And Mangum – regional champion in the 100 and 200 – is ranked in the top 26 for both sprinting events.
“I think she took 37th at the (2019) Junior Olympics, which is great if you think about it,” Clark said of Mangum. “She really shows up in the big races, and it’s kind of hard for her in those smaller dual meets to be really locked in unless she knows there’s other tough competition … “Our goal is for her to be in the top 15 in her age group (this year).”
The quartet of Mangum, Hancock, Bell and Tensel are the only four high schoolers who qualified for nationals from the Eastern Idaho Track Club. But, on the younger side, the club has a number of top-five finishers who will head to Jacksonville and compete against their age group.
Marsh Valley middle schooler Lydia Townsend will head to nationals in the 400, 800, pole vault and high jump, where she’s ranked 10th nationally in the girls 13-14 age group. Blackfoot’s Kellen Walker (boys 11-12 age group) was a top-five finisher in the 100, 200 and long jump, where he took gold in regionals and is ranked 21st in the nation.
Others who will compete in Jacksonville are: Sophi Miles of Marsh Valley (Girls 13-14) in the high jump; Idaho Falls’ Stevie Reed and Pocatello’s Kendyl Carey (Girls 9-10) in the 200/400 and the 100/200, respectively; Reese Yakovac of Lava (Girls 11-12) in the 400 and 800 and, in the high jump, Justus Mangum of Pocatello (Girls 13-14).