Pocatello boys win sprint medley relay at 4A state championships

May 19, 2019

EAGLE – There was only one event remaining Friday at the relentlessly rainy and windy 5A/4A state championships, and a District 5 athlete had yet to find gold at Eagle High School.

Then, Pocatello closed the curtain the best way it knew how, winning the 4A boys 1,600-meter sprint medley relay with a time of 3 minutes, 31.40 seconds and saving District 5 from a winless first day in the top two classifications at state.

“Pocatello’s a really strong school, we always try hard and I think track is one of our stronger events,” Indians sprint medley relay member Traven Hargraves said. “Most of our track athletes enjoy to work hard. We like to persevere, and we enjoy having our work pay off. It’s all really a team effort.”

Kaden Hales kicked off the trek toward victory for 200 meters before Hargraves ran the same distance and Kason Hewatt had 400 meters to cover on the third leg. The final 800-meter stretch was capped by the most accomplished runner on the relay team, Shane Gard, who crossed the finish line .69 seconds faster than the anchor from second-place Bishop Kelly.

“I was ready to cheer on Shane. I was running to all the different corners,” Hewatt said. “I was trying to yell at him to go faster, do better, to keep pushing.”

The performance comes off a third-place finish in the event at state last year that included every member of this year’s relay team except Hargraves.

“Last year, we came close,” Hales said. “We didn’t get the results we wanted, so we knew this offseason and this season we had to work super hard and all four of us did just that and the results paid off.”

Right before the group of Pocatello boys took the stage, the Indians medaled in the 800 sprint medley relay in the girls division with a fourth-place time of 1:52.76. Poky won the event last season with Boise State University freshman runner Harlee Hales leading the way.

“It’s big shoes to fill, so I feel like that’s impossible,” Indians relay member Madi Zink said. “We can’t get another Harlee Hales.”

Zink and Adison Spillett are both relay members who are athletes to watch Saturday in individual events.

Zink had the best preliminary qualifying times in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, while Spillett had the fourth-best qualifying time in the 400, but the relay event offered something unique that those individual events don’t offer.

“You get to share it with people you train with every day,” Spillett said. “It’s a really rewarding feeling.”

Dallin Bird finishes second in 3,200

Brian Bird was at one of the top rows in the stands Friday at Eagle High School, nervously watching the 3,200-meter race featuring his son, Dallin, in the 4A state championships.

Dallin’s grandparents, sister and cousins, including one from Arizona, were there, too.

So was his mother, in spirit, the family said. Becky Bird, who died in October 2018, developed the foundation in which Dallin launched from to become the successful runner he is today.

It was his mother who motivated him day after day at the beginning, back in the sixth grade when he first started running competitively. She told him a daily commitment was the only way he was going to be great.

“She was a mother that really pushed him to be the best he could be,” Brian said. “She was a great motivator. She disciplined him quite well. He’s a very obedient kid. He listened to her, and I think that’s why he’s successful.”

Dallin’s commitment from then and henceforth has yielded an upward trajectory that continued through Friday, when he ran faster than he ever had in the 3,200-meter race and finished higher than he ever had in the 4A state championships.

Bird completed the 3,200 with a personal-best time of 9:25.67 to finish second and beat third-place Dallin Hart of Skyline by .19 seconds.

“I just came into this race with the mindset of setting a PR,” Dallin said. “This weather, while it was rainy, I think it was still good for running fast because I didn’t have to worry about overheating.”

Dallin did not start the race in front, as his name was not called when the public address announcer named the top three multiple times at the start of the race. Although he finished 5.47 seconds behind the winner, Dallin overtook two members of the top three.

“He has the heart of a champion,” Pocatello coach Rick Call said. “He likes to do his best, whether it’s in the classroom or whether it’s out on the track.”

Dallin’s success at state comes after finishing fourth in October’s 4A cross country state championships. The event took place 22 days after the death of his mother, who was also a competitive runner in high school. Dallin’s father says running has been a way of coping.

“That was a way to clear out his mind,” Brian Bird said. “Running was a way he dealt with it.”

Dallin’s commitment to running - instilled by his mother in middle school — has reached another level. Saturday could see more dividends from it as he has more races to go.

“Dallin’s a super hard worker,” Pocatello long distance coach Shannon Whitmer said. “Everything they do before this day makes them successful.”

Pocatello’s Dallin Bird finished the 3,200 with a personal-best time (9:25.67) to place second in the 4A state championship race. #IDPrepspic.twitter.com/6hafYOXfC4 — Jeff Papworth (@JeffPapworth) May 17, 2019

District 5 triple jumpers Roubidoux, Royal overachieve

District 5’s Hailey Roubidoux and Savannah Royal were not supposed to be state medalists this season.

That was according to their own expectations, but they exceeded them Friday in the girls triple jump. Pocatello’s Roubidoux and Preston’s Royal placed fifth and sixth, respectively, to medal at the 4A state championships at Eagle High School.

Roubidoux had the 13th-best seed mark among state participants, but saved one of her best performances for state with a distance of 34 feet, 9.5 inches.

“I performed better than I normally do,” Roubidoux said. “It meant a lot. Like I’m kind of proud of myself for even medaling.”

It is not the first time she succeeded against stiff competition as her personal-best jump (35-1) was at this year’s Tiger-Grizz Invite. She said her warm-up routine is key to a good day.

“I did drills, buildups. I just kept my body warm while I was waiting to jump,” Roubidoux said. “It’s a superstitious thing where I have to do the same warm-up every time.”

Roubidoux couldn’t tell how well she did based on the lead up to landing in the sand. The same was true for Royal.

Making it to state, let alone the medal stand, was not a guarantee for the Preston jumper. Royal did not compete in the 4A District 4-5 championships because of a right ankle injury, but received a waiver right before districts that allowed her to compete at the state level in her senior season.

Royal, who suffered the injury May 4, ended up jumping with her off-foot. The first time she practiced using her left was Thursday.

“I jumped way better than I thought I would have,” said Royal, who was thriving before the injury with five top-two finishes in the triple jump this season.

Whatever she left on the table at state because of her late-season injury she has transformed into newfound motivation to continue her athletic career in college. That’s a swift turnaround from when she received bad news about her ankle from the doctor.

“He said it was pretty bad and I was just really sad,” said the second-year triple jumper. “And now, I’m thinking about going to college and doing track in college because of this.”

Other local athletes net top-8 finishes

Here are how other area athletes performed Friday at the 5A/4A state championships:

- Preston’s Andi Bell finished seventh in the 4A girls 3,200

- Highland finished eighth in the 5A girls sprint medley relay

- Century’s Tyson Harvey finished sixth in the 4A boys triple jump

- Blackfoot’s Reece Robinson finished seventh in the 4A boys triple jump

Poky boys 2nd in team standings

Pocatello’s boys are in second place in the 4A team standings headed to Friday.

The Indians’ 19 points trail Bishop Kelly’s 22. The Pocatello girls are fourth with nine points.

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