A preliminary heat of the Class 1A girls 100-meter dash at the 1989 state track and field meet may have been the greatest race ever run in Wyoming track and field history.

If you believe the results.

In one heat, an existing class record for the 100 was broken* by four different runners.

First, some context: Michelle Thompson of Encampment had set the record for the 1A girls 100 in the 1987 state track preliminaries with a 13.00. In more than nine years of Class 1A 100-meter dash races at state before that, no 1A runner had ever been below 13.

Encampment senior Brandy James set a new record* by winning her heat in 12.25 seconds, beating the existing record by three-quarters of a second. And Albin senior Chris Brown was only one-one hundredth off that pace with a 12.26.

Also in the heat were Big Horn freshman Dawn Holder, who ran a 12.50, more than a half second faster than the record, and Hanna junior Kim Bonner, who ran a 12.72, whose fourth-place finish in the heat in and of itself would have chopped off more than a quarter-second off the existing record.

In one heat, four runners not only beat* that record of 13.00, they shattered it.

In the other 1A heat, Big Horn’s Anna Hubbard won — with a 13.51, apparently more a second and a quarter slower than the other heat. Albin’s Becca Brown was second at 13.77, Encampment’s Tami Levandowski was third at 14.01 and Hanna’s Sarah Briggs was fourth at 14.55.

In the finals, though, times from these record-setting* runners increased* precipitously. Chris Brown won, with a time of 13.26 — apparently, exactly one second slower than her preliminary time*. James, the record*-setter, finished second at 13.28. Hubbard, the winner of the “slow” heat, finished third at 13.45. Becca Brown was fourth at 13.65, Holder fifth at 13.78 and Bonner sixth at 13.82.

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By now, you’ve figured out that this heat was special. Here are the differences between the times* ran in the preliminaries and the times ran in the finals for the top six finishers.

RunnerPreliminary heatFinal heat (place)Difference
Chris Brown, Albin12.2613.26 (first)+1.00 seconds
Brandy James, Encampment12.2513.28 (second)+1.03 seconds
Anna Hubbard, Big Horn13.5113.45 (third)-0.06 seconds
Becca Brown, Albin13.7713.65 (fourth)-0.12 seconds
Dawn Holder, Big Horn12.5013.78 (fifth)+1.28 seconds
Kim Bonner, Hanna12.7213.82 (sixth)+1.10 seconds
“Fast heat” participants are in bold.

Based on the results above, we can surmise that in this “fast” heat, one of three things happened:

  1. Four runners, all in the same preliminary heat, ran the races of their lives and all broke the existing class record by more than a quarter-second each, only to run times that were all at least one full second slower during the championship heat, AND ran times that were more than a second better than anyone else in the second heat, AND ran times they could not even come close to duplicating in the final (or at any other time in their high school careers), OR…
  2. The timing was off for the first heat, and who knows what the times were? OR…
  3. The times were mis-reported as 12-point-whatever instead of 13-point-whatever.

My guess is No. 3. My guess is the record-setting run that James has had credit for the past 33 years was actually a 13.25, a quarter-second off what was the existing record but exactly in line with what she ended up running in the final. My guess is the wrong person has been credited with a state record this whole time.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association, for 33 years, has implicitly said No. 1 is what happened.

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Here’s where it gets crazy — this wasn’t the only time the timing failed on a girls 100-meter dash trial IN THIS MEET.

Something equally suspicious happened in Class 3A girls. And that one was caught.

In that classification, four runners in the second preliminary heat of the 100 all turned in 3A record*-breaking times, led by Torrington’s Robyn Young at 11.83 seconds. Following her were Thermopolis’ Betsy Snook (11.97), Wheatland’s Gina Sorenson (12.18) and Jackson’s Jennifer Goetz (12.30).

The existing Class 3A record at the time was the 12.45 run by Wheatland’s Ronda Munger in 1983. Just like in 1A, four girls, all in the same heat, had just destroyed* it.

And Young’s timed 11.83, as well as Snook’s timed 11.97, beat* the existing all-class state record of 11.99, set by Central’s Betty Jackson in 1982.

The winner of the other 3A girls 100 heat, the “slow” heat, was Jackson’s Heidi Eggers, who ran a 12.84.

So, yeah, these times seemed unusual. Sure, Young was the defending Class 3A girls 100-meter dash champion. Her winning time in 1988, though? 13.13.

Young, despite setting the new record*, did not defend her title. The next day, Eggers won the final in 12.99. Young, the record*-setter the day before, ran a 13.11 to finish third; Snook was fourth at 13.48; Goetz was sixth at 13.56.

Just like in 1A, everyone in the “fast” heat in 3A was more than a second slower in the finals than their preliminary time*.

For the second time in a matter of moments, a girls 100-meter dash preliminary resulted in times that were way off.

But only one got attention.

One fraudulent record disappeared from the records. The other remained.

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News coverage in the Casper Star-Tribune hinted at the controversy on the day. Here’s part of the story from the CST’s Sally Ann Shurmur (then Michalov) on May 20, discussing the 3A race specifically:

“Although a heathy wind was blowing and gusting throughout the day, Wyoming High School Activities Association Commissioner Mike Colbrese said all times and distances would stand as set, regardless of possible wind aid, because there are no facilities for measuring that at the stadium.

“Colbrese added that several coaches had objected to that decision.”

In retrospect, the coaches had a point. Just the wrong one.

It wasn’t the wind that was pushing runners to amazing times. If that were the case, times across all classifications would have reflected this, for both boys and girls. This didn’t happen. Instead, something threw off the timing system for those two heats.

Further proof of the sketchiness of the times put up in those two preliminary races were the performances of the runners the week before state.

In addition to James and Young, all the other runners in those two preliminary heats in 1A and 3A — Chris Brown, Holder, Bonner, Snook, Sorenson, Goetz — weren’t close to the times they ran* in their preliminary race in their respective regionals, either. For example, James’ winning time at the Class 1A Southwest regional meet the week prior to state was 13.50 seconds. In the same race, Bonner finished third at 14.09. Moreover, from available records and results, none of those sprinters had ever came close to touching those times before, and they never came close to touching them again.

In fact, in the week before the 1989 regional track meets, Cheyenne East’s Shanelle Porter was listed by the Casper Star-Tribune as the leader in the state for girls in the 100-meter dash. Her top time was listed as 12.42. Then at regionals, she ran a meet record 11.99; only Tongue River’s Lacey Cooper (12.45), Kelly Walsh’s Ann-Marie Gosar (12.46), and Young (12.8) were at or below 12.8 in regional finals. The fastest 1A time at a regional was Hubbard’s 13.28 at the Northeast Regional.

So, either four runners obliterating* a 1A record of 13.00 was either a timing mistake, or it was the greatest race in state meet history.

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For one heat at state, the mistake was rectified.

The 3A and overall record that Young had broken* did not last. Her record* time was eventually stricken from the WHSAA’s records; when, exactly, is unsure, but it happened sometime between the end of the 1989 meet and the 1990 state meet, where Jackson’s 11.99 was again listed as the overall record. The current Class 3A record time is held by Rawlins’ Kereston Thomas, who ran a 12.12 in 2011. Munger’s 12.45, retroactively reinstated as the 3A record, stood until 2008.

As it turns out, four people really didn’t break the Class 3A record in one preliminary heat, all by healthy margins.

Here’s the thing: Despite what the existing records say, it didn’t happen in Class 1A, either.

James’ time, and the times of the others in her preliminary heat, didn’t get the same scrutiny as Young, for two big reasons. First, Young’s time was for an overall state meet record and James’ record was only for the 1A classification record. The prestige of the overall record drew more scrutiny to it. Second, James’ time came in a preliminary race — it didn’t affect who actually won the individual state championship or any team scores.

Regardless, James’ record still stands.

And we are mistakenly left to believe that this preliminary heat from 1989 is the greatest race in state track and field history — a race where three (and almost four) sprinters put up times that only one Class 1A sprinter, before or since, was ever able to come close to matching.

Here are the 10 fastest* Class 1A girls 100-meter dash times ever run at the Wyoming state track and field meet:

RunnerSchoolTimeType of heatYear
Brandy JamesEncampment12.25*Preliminary1989
Chris BrownAlbin12.26*Preliminary1989
Maggie OchsnerLingle12.32Final2007
Maggie OchsnerLingle12.46Preliminary2006
Dawn HolderBig Horn12.50*Preliminary1989
Sydney HolidayTen Sleep12.50Final2017
Kaelyn RileyLingle12.51Preliminary2019
Trae PatchLingle12.55Preliminary2007
Maggie OchsnerLingle12.61Final2006
Sydney HolidayTen Sleep12.62Preliminary2017

In all 1A heats, the 13-second barrier in the 100 meters has been broken 43 times by 23 runners, and the 12.50 mark has been reached or broken* six times by four runners, as noted above.

Ochsner’s slowest time across two 1A meets was 12.64. She went on to become a Division I sprinter and hurdler, running at both Wyoming and Weber State.

Holiday transferred to Broomfield High School in Colorado for her junior and senior seasons. She’s currently on the track and field team at the University of Oregon, one of the top track programs in the country.

Patch and Riley both ran track at Chadron State.

By all indications, James, Brown and Holder never participated in track and field in college.

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The rightful record-holder of the Class 1A 100-meter dash state meet record is Lingle’s Maggie Ochsner.

Ochsner’s winning time of 12.32 seconds in 2007 is the best the state has ever seen at the Class 1A level. A four-time champion in the 100, Ochsner’s 12.32 as a junior broke the record she had set the year before of 12.46, run in the preliminaries; that race broke what should have been the existing record, the 12.70 that Lingle’s Hilary Larson ran in 1996.

Kaycee’s Heather Perry should have gotten credit in 1994 for a state record with her 12.82. That beat the mark set the year before by Pine Bluffs’ Becca Christensen, who had a 12.90 in the preliminaries in 1993 and should have been recognized as the first 1A runner to break 13-flat.

And Thompson’s 13.00 from 1987 should have stood until then.

One kink is that the current iteration of record-keepers has never had anyone question this record and would have a tough time overturning a record that’s been on the books for 33 years. In the 18 years that Ron Laird has been the commissioner of the Wyoming High School Activities Association, he said no one has asked him about the validity of this record (until now).

“We have never had anyone question it, and would have no way of knowing, at this time, if it is not accurate,” Laird said via email this summer.

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The 3A and 1A mis-times overshadowed someone who was actually running some record-setting times in 1989: East’s Porter.

A junior at the time, she won the 100, 200 and 400 for Cheyenne East at the 1989 meet, setting state meet records in the 200 (24.86) and 400 (55.86). (By the way, the state championship meet mark Porter set as a senior in 1990 (54.78) still stands as the all-class state meet record.) Her 100-winning time of 12.18 seconds actually was legit.

I wonder: If the “Best of the Best” award were around in 1989 — it didn’t start until 1994 — what would have happened? Would the debate over that award (Young’s sketchy 11.83 or Porter’s legit 12.18) have shined more light on James’ 1A time*?

When reached via Facebook and later contacted via email, James, now Brandy Spinda, did not respond to questions about her performance at the 1989 state track meet.

Regardless, one of the beauties of time, whether it’s 12.25 seconds or 33 years, is perspective. As time passes, we learn, and we gain wisdom from that new perspective.

That perspective is only meaningful, though, if acted upon.

Although the evidence will forever be no more than circumstantial, it’s also hard to overlook because it all points to one critical conclusion — that James’ time, like Young’s, was clearly inaccurate.

Yet, for 33 years on and counting, it still stands as the benchmark for all Class 1A sprinters to try to hit.

Young’s stricken 11.83 is a footnote in the state’s track and field history. James’ 12.25* should be, too.

–patrick

This post was updated at 5:04 p.m. July 28 to fix an incorrect first name.

Editor’s note: This post was written by “Stat Rat” Jim Craig, formerly of Lusk and now of Cheyenne, who has provided significant help to the research on Wyoming sports history.

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[Researching as a go-fer for Patrick Schmiedt is a pastime this retired teacher/coach truly enjoys. It’s fun to occasionally turn up useful nuggets for inclusion in several of his ongoing projects, be it the exhaustive wyoming-football.com, a developing wyoming-basketball.com, or his newest addition to Wyoming prep sports canon, champlists.com. Take a moment sometime online to eyeball all that he has amassed and gathered, a truly amazing compendium of Wyoming prep sports data and information.]

When it came time to accumulate state tourney results for volleyball, we knew it’d be problematic to find accurate accounts from the early years. Volleyball received short shrift via the media in its initial decade — the 1970s — as volleyball’s seasonal counterpart, prep football, dominated the sports writing of that time. An account of the first state volleyball tourney in the Casper Star-Tribune merited just five sentences in all, and that was the state champions’ home newspaper. That’s too bad, because that initial culminating event had all the elements of a classic, one that has yet to be duplicated to this day.

First and foremost, the 1971 gathering was open to all comers, almost. Only the Big Horn Basin teams had qualifying events, but from the other three corners of the state ANY team could enter. Eventually 34 teams were bracketed into a single-elimination contest. Lacking a venue like the Ford Wyoming Center, four gymnasiums were used: Natrona County and Kelly Walsh high schools and Dean Morgan and East junior highs. Secondly, it was a one-day — Saturday, Nov. 13, 1971 — event: win to advance, lose to end the day. Finally, there were NO classifications: Little, big and medium-sized schools were all included in the SAME bracket.

Of the 31 — out of 34 — teams we’ve been able to identify, two were Class 1A, 14 were Class 2A, six were Class 3A, and nine were Class 4A (although back then they were classed C, B, A and AA).  First-round upsets of 4A schools thinned the competition quickly. Little Burlington bounced Natrona from further action and Sundance did likewise to Cheyenne Central. Pre-tourney favorite Cheyenne East was eliminated by Wheatland while Buffalo ejected Riverton, Albin sent Rawlins packing, and one of our three unidentified teams ousted Powell. By the round of 16, only three 4A schools remained: Laramie, Cody and Kelly Walsh.

The round of 16 produced a “battle of “Ingtons” — sadly, Arlington, Wyoming, has no high school — and 1A Burlington and 3A Torrington squared off for bragging rights, certainly a rarity as the two schools are neither close in geography nor in school demographics. The small-school Huskies defeated the Trailblazerettes — it took awhile for the “ettes” diminutive suffix to thankfully exit the sports vernacular — to enter the quarterfinals. Of the seven quarterfinalists we know, 4A, 3A, and 2A each had two representatives along with 1A Burlington.

The semifinals found 2A Mountain View versus 4A Kelly Walsh while 2A Upton faced 3A Douglas. Mountain View had a heck of a run to the semis, defeating 3A Lusk, 4A Cody and 4A Laramie, but Kelly Walsh took the semifinal W by scores of 15-11 and 15-4. Douglas had similar luck with Upton, winning 15-12, 15-2. At the end of a long day, Kelly Walsh needed three sets to defeat Douglas by scores of 13-15, 15-10 and 15-11 to win the first state volleyball championship, claiming a bit of glory for all of the state’s largest schools.

Officials were pleased with the tourney but disappointed in the turnout, probably explained partially by its four competition sites. Tickets were $1 for adults, 50 cents for students. Nowadays, 32 teams still gather in Casper for a bacchanalia of bumps, sets and spikes. Four champions are crowned, one for each classification. Still, one exits today’s tourney wondering how the teams — in particular the champions — would fare against one another. That initial 1971 tourney provided answers to such questions.

Today, June 23, marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. Events like the ’71 state championship show that in some areas, Wyoming was ahead of the curve, at least by a few months for volleyball in this case. However, by late 1971 the WHSAA had held championships for girls’ teams in alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, golf, swimming, tennis and track for several years. Cross country and basketball would follow in the 1975-76 school year, within the compliance time allowed by Title IX. Wyomingites by nature are loath to accept most any edict from the federal government, but Title IX is definitely an exception. The playing field was leveled for an excluded half of the population. Those that participated in the first volleyball state tourney — women now in their 60s — are true pioneers.

The spring sports season has come to a close, and with it the 2021-22 Wyoming high school sports season.

Information from the track and field, soccer and softball championships has been put onto sister site Champlists. Check it out. Soccer and softball all-state teams are still to come, but everything else is there. If anything looks weird, wonky or wrong, let me know.

One thing that jumped out at me as I was putting together the track and field champions was just how many athletes had won their first state championship in a particular event for their school. In all, this happened 24 times this weekend, including with 12 relay teams, a number that seemed much higher than usual. They included:

BOYS
Jaycee Herbert, Wind River, 100
Isaiah Haliburton, Thunder Basin, 400
Rodee Brow, Wheatland, 400 (This is the first Wheatland champ in the 400/440 since the start of the state meet in 1922.)
Wheatland, 4×100 relay
Thunder Basin and Tongue River, 4×400 relay
Lander, Tongue River and Lingle, 1600 medley relay
Mountain View, 4×800 relay

GIRLS
Vaidyn Vanderploeg, Riverside, 100 and 200
Karcee Maya, Kaycee, 400
Emma Gonzalez, Burns, 3200
Gabby Mendoza, Thunder Basin, 300 hurdles
Glenrock, 4×100 relay
Star Valley, 4×400 relay
Jackson and Saratoga, 1600 medley relay
Mountain View, 4×800 relay
Katy Dexter, Pinedale, discus
Carly Moore, Wright, pole vault
Angie Logsdon, Southeast, pole vault
Whitney Bennett, Saratoga, triple jump

Snowy and cold weather on the first two days of the meet prevented this from being a huge record-breaking weekend, as only one overall state meet record and only six other classification records were broken, including four in Class 1A boys.

The overall record broken, though, was a big one — Kelly Walsh’s Cameron Burkett in the shot put. His mark of 65-10.25 on the throw below is both a state meet and an all-time state record.

The other classification records were:
Colby Jenks, Big Piney, 2A boys 800, 1:55.59
Southeast, 1A boys 4×100 relay, 43.35
Lingle, 1A boys 4×400 relay, 3:27.43
Ryan Clapper, Southeast, 1A boys 200, 21.79
Kyland Fuller, Lingle, 1A boys 400, 50.02
Shelby Ekwall, Southeast, 1A girls shot put, 41-8.75

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On the soccer side of things, Worland’s fourth consecutive Class 3A boys championship (2018-19 and 2021-22, with no tournament in 2020) is a new state record for consecutive championships. Previously, Jackson (2014-16) and Cheyenne East (1987-89) had won three in a row, and Jackson (2019, 2021-22) won its third straight this year.

Additionally, Worland’s 7-0 victory against Torrington in the 3A championship game represented both the most goals scored by a winning team in a state championship game and the biggest blowout in a championship game.

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Softball, meanwhile, is still in its infancy in Wyoming. Thunder Basin won the championship, giving the city of Gillette its second title in two years, following up on Campbell County’s title last season in the sport’s inaugural year.

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As noted, the records for this year’s performances are all up on Champlists. I hope to continue to add to and grow the site to incorporate more of Wyoming’s high school sports history. I’ve already heard from one of you just this week about trying to add year-by-year soccer standings, something I’m excited to get into but would also love some help on… But what else would YOU like to see researched about Wyoming’s high school sports history that isn’t already up on Champlists? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

–patrick

The simplest measure of the success of an overall athletics program is the number of state championships it has won.

By that simple measure alone, Campbell County stands alone at the top of Wyoming’s athletics echelon.

The Camels have won 212 state championships, dating back to the school’s first title, a boys basketball championship in 1958. Since then, the Camel boys have won 103 state championships in each of the 10 sports the school offers, while the Camel girls have won 109 titles in 10 sports, nine of which the school currently has.

Campbell County is one of just six schools in Wyoming to have at least 100 state championships to its name, through championships won in the winter season of 2021-22. The others are Jackson (192), Cheyenne Central (191), Natrona (181), Laramie (141) and Lander (101).

The only school now open that doesn’t have a state championship is Cheyenne South, which opened about a decade ago. Arvada-Clearmont, Hulett and Rock River have just one championship apiece in their histories.

The first state championship was awarded at the 1918 boys basketball state tournament. In all, 2,935 championships have been earned, with 1,792 going to boys teams and 1,143 to girls teams.

Obviously, it’s easier for bigger schools to win more championships, as they offer more sports. The Class 1A school with the most championships, unsurprisingly, is Cokeville, with 87. The Panthers far outdistance second-place Snake River and its 35 championships. The Class 2A school that ranks highest is Pine Bluffs, with 46 championships, followed closely by Wyoming Indian with 40.

The single best year for championships belongs to Campbell County, as well. The Camels won 10 championships in both the 2000-01 and 2008-09 school years. Jackson and Campbell County have also won nine titles in a single school year before, while Star Valley, Jackson and Campbell County have won eight in a year.

The most championships for boys in a single year is six, most recently by Laramie in 2017-18 but also by Campbell County three times, in 2008-09, 2007-08 and 1998-99. The girls record is seven titles, set by Campbell County in 2000-01.

Championships have been awarded across 13 boys sports in 31 different classifications, while girls titles have been awarded in 13 sports in 28 classifications. Dig deeper into each sport on Champlists.

Championship winners are not fully available for all sports. Sports with holes in their championship records include boys and girls alpine and Nordic skiing, as well as potential missing titles in girls golf.

Total championship tallies are below. Click the headers to sort by that column.

–patrick

SchoolsTotalBoysGirls
Albin13112
Arvada-Clearmont101
Basin431
Big Horn351421
Big Piney16142
Buffalo432815
Burlington362214
Burns25619
Byron22202
Campbell County212103109
Carpenter110
Cheyenne Central19113061
Cheyenne East693930
Cheyenne South000
Chugwater220
Cody663135
Cokeville874146
Cowley990
Dayton220
Deaver-Frannie660
Douglas723438
Dubois963
Encampment1679
Evanston26188
Farson880
Fort Laramie110
Glendo211
Glenrock22193
Goshen Hole440
Green River504010
Greybull20155
Guernsey-Sunrise12102
Hanna651
Hulett101
Huntley220
Jackson1929498
Kaycee1165
Kelly Walsh794336
Kemmerer18126
LaGrange18180
Lander1016140
Laramie1419348
Lingle241113
Lovell362313
Lusk351916
Lyman22139
Manderson606
Medicine Bow220
Meeteetse844
Midwest440
Moorcroft17116
Mountain View271413
Natrona18111071
Newcastle18135
Pine Bluffs461333
Pinedale21147
Powell574116
Rawlins19109
Riverside532
Riverton221111
Rock River110
Rock Springs644816
Rocky Mountain15105
Saratoga23158
Sheridan896029
Shoshoni16133
Snake River352312
Southeast23176
St. Mary’s/Seton422
St. Stephens1091
Star Valley936429
Sundance211011
Ten Sleep19109
Thermopolis37316
Thunder Basin514
Tongue River301020
Torrington443410
University Prep550
Upton23185
Veteran550
Wheatland281117
Wind River990
Worland654322
Wright291316
Wyoming Indian40346
Yoder220

For the five team sports offered by the WHSAA — basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball — four-time all-state selections are quite uncommon.

In fact, among those five team sports, only 14 boys and 48 girls have been four-time all-state choices.

As noted previously here, only 21 players — five boys, 16 girls — are four-time all-state basketball selections.

Oddly enough, a similar ratio exists for fall and spring team sports. For fall, three boys are four-time all-state football selections, while 13 girls are four-time all-state volleyball picks. And in spring, two boys and 19 girls have been four-time all-state soccer choices.

Softball was first sanctioned in 2021, so no four-time all-staters will come from that sport until at least 2024.

Lyman’s Tayler Anderson and Kelly Walsh’s Madison Vinich are the only players to be four-time all-state in two different team sports; both were four-time picks in volleyball and basketball.

The fall four-time all-state selections are:

Volleyball
Wendy Anderson, Cokeville, 1987-90
Stephanie Laya, Tongue River, 1993-96
Katie Nate, Cokeville, 1996-99
Meggie Malyurek, Big Horn, 1997-2000
Erin Scherry, Big Horn, 1997-2000
Tayler Anderson, Lyman, 2005-08
Paige Neves, Burlington, 2006-09
Madison Vinich, Kelly Walsh, 2014-17
Haedyn Rhoades, Douglas, 2015-18
Danilynn Schell, Kelly Walsh, 2016-19
McKenzie Earl, Rawlins, 2017-20
Demi Stauffenberg, Lander, 2018-21
Alexis Stucky, Laramie, 2018-21

Football
Ty Barrus, Meeteetse, 1987-90
James Caro, Kaycee, 2009-12
Drake Lamp, Lusk, 2017-20

For soccer, the four-time all-state choices are:

Girls
Marcee Owens, Natrona, 1988-91
Liza Schmidt, Cheyenne Central, 1991-94
Erin Bowler, Cheyenne East, 1995-98
Jenny Watkins, Lander, 1995-98
Lindsey Sosovec, Cheyenne East, 1995-98
Monica Trujillo, Cheyenne East, 1995-98
Jessie Zebroski, Lander, 1997-00
Melissa Speiser, Natrona, 1997-00
Enedina Vasco, Riverton, 1998-01
Ariela Schreibeis, Laramie, 2007-10
Bridget Schumacher, Cody, 2009-12
Jessica Freeze, Jackson, 2010-13
Sarah Erickson, Cheyenne East, 2011-14
Hannah Bailey, Cody, 2014-17
Taylor Stoeger, Green River, 2014-17
Casey Wassum, Worland, 2015-18
Lexi Pulley, Laramie, 2015-18
Eli Olsen, Buffalo, 2016-19
Grace Roswadovski, Campbell County/Thunder Basin, 2016-19

Boys
Jared White, Cheyenne East, 1992-95
Robert George, Kelly Walsh, 2013-16

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Individual sports are harder to track because what constitutes “all-state” varies from sport to sport. However, across a variety of individual sports, we can keep track of four-time state champions, something that’s maybe even harder to do than all-state in a team sport.

Cross country: Three girls have won state cross country four times, one each at the 4A, 3A and 2A levels:

Sarah Balfour, Natrona, 4A, 2001-04
Emily Higgins, Rocky Mountain, 2A, 2002-05
Sydney Thorvaldson, Rawlins, 3A, 2017-20

No boys have ever won state cross country titles four times, although Saratoga’s Grant Bartlett has a chance to do so at the 2A level next season.

—-

Golf: Two boys and two girls have finished as four-time state champions:

Boys
Easton Paxton, Riverton, 4A, 2013-16
Hardy Johnson, Thermopolis, 2A, 2018-21

Girls
Mardi Johnson, Buffalo, 3A, 1991-94
Whittney Coon, Lusk, 2A, 2003-06

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Gymnastics: Although no longer sanctioned by the WHSAA, two boys (across four events) and four girls (across six events) have been four-time event or all-around champions.

Boys
Chris Santistevan, Laramie, vault, 1984-87
Steven George, Laramie, pommel horse, rings and all-around, 1989-92

Girls
Jennifer Perry, Laramie, uneven parallel bars, 1979-82
Amanda Murdock, Kelly Walsh, floor exercise, vault and all-around 1985-88
Julie Kasper, Campbell County, all-around, 1996-99
Kaitlyn Balfour, Natrona, uneven parallel bars, 2005-08

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Nordic skiing: Jackson’s Willie Neal is an eight-time champion, winning both races at state every year from 2005-08. Jackson’s Anna Gibson won the freestyle race four years in a row from 2014-17 and won six individual titles in all after winning the classic races in 2016 and 2017, the most individual championships for any one skier on the girls’ side.

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Swimming: Three boys and five girls have the distinction of being eight-time individual champions, never losing an individual race at state (as swimmers are capped at two individual races at state). They are:

Boys
John Green, Sheridan, 1984-87
Phil Rehard, Rawlins, 1993-96
Jake Rehard, Rawlins, 1995-98

Girls
Cindy Miyake, Laramie, 1974-77
Yvonne Brown, Campbell County, 1980-83
Shelly Smith, Greybull, 1981-84
Marsha Landowski, Newcastle, 1987-90
Katie Peck, Buffalo, 1996-99

(Note that individual swimming records at the state meet are woefully incomplete prior to the 1970s.)

Track and field: Eight boys and 58 girls have won a single event four consecutive times. See that list here. However, no track athlete has ever won 16 individual championships (winning your maximum of four individual events every year for four years). The closest to that mark is Mountain View’s Amber Henry, who won 15 individual titles from 2005-08, and Campbell County’s Emily Moore, who won 14 from 2003-06. (Those don’t include relay titles.)

The boys with the most individual championships are Byron’s Tom Bassett and Medicine Bow’s Leonard Padilla. Basset and Padilla both won 12 individual championships, Bassett from 1974-77 and Padilla from 1969-72. However, both competed in eras prior to the cap of four individual events per person at the state meet.

—-

Wrestling: In all, 24 wrestlers have finished their careers with four state championships. They are:

Dave Edington, Saratoga, 1957-60
Ray Sanchez, Cheyenne Central, 1962-65
John Lucchi, Rock Springs, 1970-73
Lanny Schneider, Worland, 1984-87
Russell Davis, Upton, 1988-91
Bobby Thoman, Wind River, 1995-98
Troy McIlravy, Campbell County, 1995-98
Cody Grant, Torrington, 2001-04
Jeff Wood, Campbell County, 2004-07
Jared Hatley, Torrington, 2005-08
Kasey Garnhart, Greybull-Riverside, 2005-08
Tyler Cox, Campbell County, 2006-09
Auston Carter, Powell, 2007-10
Dani Fischer, Campbell County, 2010-13
Bryce Meredith, Cheyenne Central, 2011-14
Justin Lewton, Worland, 2011-14
James Teichert, Cokeville, 2012-15
Tevis Bartlett, Cheyenne East, 2012-15
Kye Catlin, Powell, 2013-16
Donny Proffit, Kemmerer, 2016-19
Tate Stoddard, Glenrock, 2016-19
Dawson Schramm, Kemmerer, 2017-20
Jace Palmer, Kelly Walsh, 2017-20
Analu Benabise, Kelly Walsh, 2018-21

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Indoor track and alpine skiing have never had a four-time champion in any one event, although alpine skiing records are incomplete.

–patrick

Part of why I continue to run wyoming-football.com — for which I started the research in 2004 and have since expanded to basketball and, well, everything else with Champlists — is that I keep learning new things.

The past year in particular, I hit the researching hard, thanks to a subscription to newspapers.com (a bonus made possible by those who provided a sponsorship!). I found some interesting things about coaches, players and others — some cool, some sad, some disturbing.

Of the myriad tidbits I’ve encountered, here are some of the more interesting ones — stories I wouldn’t have know about if I hadn’t been putting together research for my sites.

The cool:

The sad:

  • Sheridan coach O.E. “Oc” Erickson was a highly successful football coach, but he left the head coaching spotlight his early 30s. He moved to his hometown of Cheyenne and was an assistant for the Cheyenne High team for a few years. He should have been around much longer; he died at 41 after he fell in a hotel lobby the night after a UW football game and fractured his skull.
  • Then there’s the story of the high school basketball coach who coached his daughter in the state tournament; the team lost two and went home. The next day, his daughter died in a car crash; a moment of silence was held before the championship games that Saturday night.

The disturbing (with names removed):

  • The girls basketball coach who was convicted of having sex with players on his team — and who in his court testimony struggled to show remorse.
  • The basketball coach who traveled separately from his team to the state tournament — and then got pulled over and tagged with a DUI and speeding while on the way. By all accounts, he coached at state, but he didn’t keep his job much longer.
  • The coach who left education to get into law enforcement, became police chief of a major Wyoming city — and was convicted of soliciting bribes while police chief.
  • The driver of the “other” car in the crash that killed Byron and Lovell coach Wilford Mower, the guy for whom the big award handed out to high school athletes in Wyoming’s northwest corner — he died several years later in another car crash that also took the life of one of his own children.

These are just a few of the hundreds of tidbits I’ve found while researching Wyoming’s high school sports. I think it’s important to remember all of it — good, sad, disturbing and more — to understand the totality of how sports, community and culture intermingle. I’m hoping to bring some of the more interesting stories to this site in the future thanks to the details I’ve picked up in researching for Champlists.

–patrick

Photo of Ned Turner posing in a starting position.
Edwin “Ned” Turner poses for a photo while at the University of Michigan in 1932. Turner, a graduate of Natrona County High School in Casper, ran in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, placing fifth in the 800-meter run. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

Exactly 89 years ago today, a Casper native took to the Olympic track at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and held his own with the best runners in the world.

Today, though, Ned Turner’s accomplishments are nearly forgotten.

Edwin T. “Ned” Turner finished fifth in the 800-meter run at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. He was one of the first, if not the first, Wyoming athletes to compete in the Olympics, a list that includes celebrated names like Rulon Gardner, John Godina, Lance Deal, Heather Moody, Jesseca Cross, Jennifer Nichols and a handful of others.

Turner was just 19 when he ran in the Olympics. A junior at the University of Michigan, Turner had made his mark with guts. A Casper Tribune-Herald article from 1952 noted that “Ned was not a sprint finisher, as are many middle distance runners, but he was noted for his strength, endurance, and untiring running ability.”

Ned Turner's yearbook photo
Edwin “Ned” Turner’s photo from the 1929 Natrona County High School yearbook.

Despite his world-class finish in the Olympics, Turner was never an NCAA champion at Michigan. Moreover, he was only once a Wyoming state track champion, winning the 440-yard run as a junior at Natrona in 1928. He had appendicitis as a senior and missed the entire track and field season while recovering.

But at Michigan, Turner grew and matured; after all, he was just 16 when he graduated from NCHS. He qualified for the Olympics by finishing third in the AAU championships, which doubled as the U.S. Olympic trials, in mid-July. Once at the Olympics, Turner finished third in his opening heat, good enough to make the final race.

The 800-meter final itself put Turner in a field that saw almost everyone, including Turner, run a time that was better than the gold-medal time from the 1928 Olympic 800-meter run. Great Britain’s Tommy Hampson ran a then-world record time of 1 minute, 49.7 seconds to win the race. Turner finished fifth in 1:52.5.

You can watch the race on YouTube here. Turner is wearing a white tank and white shorts and has dark hair, but it’s hard to make him out in the footage as that was the attire for several racers. See full race and heat results here.

Turner led a full, but short, life after his Olympic opportunity. He graduated from Michigan in 1933 and turned to business. In 1952, an article in the Casper Tribune-Herald described Turner as “a successful business executive” in Michigan. Turner worked in a variety of industries, including industrial machinery and paper, and lived in New York in addition to Michigan. Like many young men of his time, his career was interrupted during World War II, when he served in the Navy. Turner died Aug. 17, 1967, in Michigan, a month short of his 55th birthday.

As Wyomingites watch the Tokyo Summer Olympics this month, let’s make sure the name “Turner” stays in the conversation.

–patrick

After several months of preparation and research, I’m proud to announce the newest website to highlight Wyoming’s high school sports history.

Say hi to champlists.com.

The site is exactly what it says — lists of champions for Wyoming’s sanctioned high school sports. But it’s much more than that.

Each sport has its own special area: alpine skiing, cross country, golf, gymnastics, indoor track, Nordic skiing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. While each sport has individual and team champions, several sports have more than that. For example, soccer and volleyball have all-state team listings and state championship history broken down by school; volleyball has listings for championship coaches; and other sports have listings unique to them.

In short, I’m bringing the wyoming-football.com and wyoming-basketball.com treatment to other high school sports in the Equality State. Although the research for other sports is not as deep or intricate as the research for football and basketball, champlists.com does help fill a gap in Wyoming’s high school sports history.

While the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s website with its sports archive has been incredibly useful, it has also been limited by a reduced range. The WHSAA website does not list champions or results prior to 1973, the year the WHSAA moved from Riverton to Casper, for any sports except football or basketball. WHSAA listings have long been incomplete for sports like cross country, golf, swimming, tennis, wrestling and track. Champlists.com tries to close that gap while at the same time make it easier for people to find specific names, records and details for each sport.

Despite all of my best efforts to this point, many sports have incomplete listings of their champions. Your help is invaluable to completing these lists. Please use this form to send me any missing information you have, as well as any documentation you have to support it, such as a newspaper clipping, yearbook listing or something similar.

In that same vein, champlists.com is a work in progress. If there is something else you’d like to see there, let me know; I’ll see if I can research it, or maybe if we can research it together. I’m going to look for ways to constantly expand the listings that are available to satiate your curiosity about Wyoming’s high school sports history. Broadly, I am planning on updating champlists.com once a year, likely in the summer.

Similarly, I will likely expand the scope of this blog to include occasional posts about other sports, as I have done the past few years with the occasional basketball or track and field post. I have several fun and interesting posts in the works already.

If you’ve made it this far, you care about this kind of stuff. So give champlists.com a look, and let me know what you’d like to see from it moving forward.

–patrick