As the list below shows, Green River is Wyoming’s individual champion capital, with 117 individual championships coming from the Wolves’ ranks. Other schools with at least 100 individual championships are Campbell County (105), Natrona, Powell and Star Valley (104 each), and Worland (100).
Down at the bottom of the list, though, are 10 programs listed with one champion apiece.
And that, too, is incredibly interesting.
Of those 10 champions, only one champion is from an active program — and that is Hanna’s James Montez. Montez was the Class 2A 145-pound champion in 2010, the Miners’ first and only state champion.
Six others come from defunct programs. In chronological order, they are Guernsey’s Myron Baker (1947), LaGrange’s Joe Alire (1972), University Prep’s John Trujillo (1972), Medicine Bow’s Robert Casey (1973), Jeffrey City’s Jamie Evans (1980) and Burlington’s Ron Pace (1989).
The remaining three are kind of outliers from co-op programs. Kaleb Brothwell (2022) is Lingle-Southeast’s only champion, as is Lincoln Siebert (2021) of Burns-Pine Bluffs. However, both co-ops are relatively new, and all four schools have their fair share of their own individual champions. Similarly, Riverside’s Steve Bower (1989) is Riverside’s only champ listed, but Basin pre-Riverside days, as well as Basin/Manderson wrestlers as part of the Greybull-Riverside co-op, have won plenty of individual titles.
Here are the state wrestling champion tallies by school or wrestling co-op:
Here’s a quick overview of the 2022 fall high school sports seasons in Wyoming, aside from football, as updated to champlists.com:
Golf: The girls golf teams from Kelly Walsh (473) and Sheridan (484) posted the two best team scores ever seen at the state meet. They both beat the old record of 489 set by Sheridan last year. Natrona, which finished third at 501 strokes, finished tied for the seventh-best round ever by a team at state.
Individually, three players — Riverton’s Parker Paxton on the boys side and Lovell’s Erika Cook and Upton’s Brooklyn Materi on the girls side — won their third consecutive individual championships. Paxton is one of six boys to ever accomplish at least three state titles, while Cook and Materi are two of just six on the girls’ side. Paxton and Cook will return next season in attempts to become just the third boy and third girl to finish with four individual golf championships.
Kelly Walsh’s Josh Lane won the 4A boys title and Thermopolis’ Hadley Johnson won the 2A boys. Sheridan’s Samantha Spielman won her second 4A girls individual title (also winning in 2020).
Jackson and Riverton each won their second consecutive boys title, while Thermopolis’ boys won their fifth consecutive boys title. Kelly Walsh won the 4A girls, while Wheatland (3A) and Upton (2A) each won their second striaght.
Tennis: The Kelly Walsh girls won their second consecutive title and eighth overall to move into a tie for second place for most state tennis championships with Sheridan. Central leads with 16 overall. Gabriella Blumberg was the only repeat singles champion, winning No. 1 singles after winning No. 2 singles last year.
The Jackson boys win their fifth tennis title, with Cheyenne South’s Andrew Lock winning the No. 1 singles individual title.
Cross country: Saratoga’s Grant Bartlett won his fourth consecutive Class 2A championship, and in doing so became the first boy in Wyoming history to win four cross country individual titles. Mountain View’s Owen Burnett won his second consecutive 3A title and Star Valley sophomore Habtamu Wetzel won the 4A championship. Star Valley, Mountain View and Rocky Mountain/Burlington won team titles for the boys.
Three first-time champions were among the girls ranks with Cheyenne Central’s Sydney Morrell (4A), Lander’s Ameya Eddy (3A) and Moorcroft’s Mallory Jones (2A) winning individual titles. Central and Saratoga won their second consecutive team titles, while Cody won its fourth straight.
Volleyball: Wyoming had four new champions, as none of 2021’s title teams repeated. Riverside won its first championship in school history in its first year in 1A, while Burns won the 2A title and its third in school history after moving from 3A. Mountain View and Lyman played each other for the second consecutive year in the 3A title match, with Mountain View coming out on top this year to win its fifth team title. And in 4A, Kelly Walsh became just the third program in the state to crack-double digit championships with its 10th by winning the 4A title. (Cokeville has 25 titles and Pine Bluffs 12.)
In all, 11 players were named all-state players for the third time: Big Horn’s Saydee Zimmer, Cheyenne East’s Elysiana Fonseca and Boden Liljedahl, Kaycee’s Sierra Kilts, Kelly Walsh’s Abi Milby and Peyton Carruth, Laramie’s Maddy Stucky, Natrona’s Megan Hagar, Riverside’s Caroline Schlattmann and Vaidyn VanderPloeg and Thunder Basin’s Joelie Spelts. Zimmer and Stucky are juniors; the others are seniors.
Girls swimming: Laramie and Lander continued their dynasties, as Laramie won its sixth consecutive title and Lander won its sixth in seven years.
Cody’s Tara Joyce became the 31st girls swimmer in state history to win at least six individual championships with victories in the 200 and 500 freestyle events.
Remember to check out champlists.com for a ton of historical information on Wyoming high school sports.
Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories about some of Wyoming’s biggest high school sports underdogs.
Former Campbell County soccer coach Lyle Nannemann remembers more than one player coming up to him with the same complaint during the 1994 state tournament: I’ve got nothing clean to wear.
On the verge of a championship that had reverberations across the state, some of the Camels had to make an emergency underwear run.
“Some of them didn’t pack enough clothes for that weekend because they figured they’d be coming home sooner than they did,” Nannemann said this summer, 28 years after the Camels’ unexpected championship that completely changed the expectations of soccer teams in Wyoming. “It was unexpected they were going to carry on into the championship. They figured they’d be going home early.”
With expectations low but momentum high, the Camels won the 1994 state soccer championship, and in doing so became the first school outside Cheyenne to finish a season on top.
The start of state-sanctioned high school soccer in Wyoming in 1987 made clear the difference between the haves and the have-nots.
Cheyenne had what was necessary to win championships. No other community did.
Cheyenne schools had won the first seven state soccer championships, with East winning in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1992 and Central winning in 1990, 1991 and 1993. In both 1987 and 1992, the two Cheyenne schools faced each other in the championship game.
Rory Williams, who played for Campbell County, also said Cheyenne’s club team, the Steam, helped build that depth and that competitiveness.
“They just had a lot more players, and their depth was always really good,” Williams said. “They just had really high expectations.”
Added Chris McMackin, a senior on the 1994 Gillette team and now the Camels’ head coach, the Cheyenne schools’ proximity to Colorado gave them opportunities no other programs had.
“They just had a head start on the rest of the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, expectations weren’t as high in other programs across the state — as the lack of underwear shows.
Even so, Nannemann said the ability to fuse talent helped make the Camels champions.
“They were a great group of boys,” Nannemann said. “There was a lot of different personalities on the team and they just came together and gelled to win the championship.”
The lead-up to the 1994 state tournament gave no hint to the seismic shift about to take place in soccer in Wyoming. With an expanded eight-team field for just the second year, East and Central were both the prohibitive favorites. Central came into the state tournament with a record of 9-0-1. East, meanwhile, was 8-1-1, its only loss via its crosstown rival.
Lander (8-0-2) was the West Conference champion, but not a true threat as the Tigers hadn’t played Cheyenne schools and, well, weren’t from Cheyenne.
The rest of the field was unremarkable, with Riverton (6-3-1) and Natrona (5-2-3) just above .500, Kelly Walsh (4-4-2) and Campbell County (5-5) right at the midpoint and Buffalo (3-7) sneaking in as the last representative from the much tougher East Conference.
The expected happened in the first round. Cheyenne schools cruised; Central obliterated KW 9-0, while East shut out Riverton 3-0. Lander won, too, but needed overtime to beat an underwhelming Buffalo team. That just left Campbell County and Natrona playing for the right to go up against someone who would likely end their season the next day, as consolation rounds were not yet played at state.
The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in regulation time, as Jeff Vega scored late in regulation on a penalty kick for the Camels to send it to overtime. Then McMackin scored the game-winner in the first half of overtime, and the Camels were on… seemingly to their doom against Central, a team that hadn’t lost in two years.
But, contrary to expectations and history, the Camels found a way to give the Indians their first loss in a rainy, snowy game in Laramie. Holding Central to just one goal (against a 5.6 goal-per-game average) in the 2-1 victory, McMackin scored again, this time less than two minutes into the game, and Williams added another within the first 10 minutes.
“They hadn’t experienced that in two-plus years,” McMackin said. “They were in shock.”
After the two goals, Williams said, “we just held on for dear life for probably the next 70-some minutes, in the snow and in the rain. … They had a lot of ammo and were able to get quite a few shots off, but our defense did a great job and our goalie, Mike Roe, did a great job (with 11 saves).”
And just like that, the Camels were onto the championship game against another Cheyenne school, East.
McMackin said Campbell County’s confidence was high against the Thunderbirds. Despite losing twice to East in the regular season, both games were competitive.
The Camels’ defense rose to the heights necessary for a state championship game. Freshman Justin Graham’s penalty kick in the first half was all the scoring Campbell County needed, and the Camels beat East 1-0 to win their first state soccer championship and the first for any Wyoming school outside of the confines of the Capital City.
McMackin said the crowd for the 1994 title game was one of the largest he had ever seen for a Wyoming high school game.
“So many teams were there rooting for us just because they wanted someone other than (a) Cheyenne (school) to win,” he said.
Along with the 2016 team from Laramie and the 2017 East team, the ’94 Camels are one of only three 4A boys teams to win state titles by winning three games at state each by a single-goal margin.
The Camels’ title ended the Cheyenne stranglehold, and they understood immediately that they were ushering in a new era of parity across the state in boys soccer.
Although East beat Central in the 1995 title game, six different schools won championships in the next six years, including Natrona, Buffalo, Kelly Walsh and Laramie. East and Central still sit atop the state soccer championship tallies, with East at eight and Central at seven, but Jackson has also won seven titles (including the three most recent in 4A) while Kelly Walsh and Laramie are right behind with six apiece.
McMackin said the change in Gillette’s community soccer programs is evidence of the strides the Camels have made and matches similar programs statewide. Where the teams in the 1980s and 1990s were formed by teams of players whose parents had never played soccer, “now you’re seeing second-, third-generation families who have played the game here.”
However, Campbell County still has only the 1994 title to claim as its own. McMackin, who had such a critical part of the 1994 team, is now the head coach of the Camels and is working to change that.
“It was like we lifted the curse for the rest of the state and then put it on ourselves,” he said.
Meanwhile, 28 years later, Nannemann — who stepped down as head coach in 1998 but still works with Gillette’s club soccer teams alongside some of his former players — said the Camels’ breakthrough “did make the confidence level come up where other teams felt they could do it also.”
And Williams, now the head boys basketball coach for defending Class 4A champion Thunder Basin, said the 1994 title was the one that helped other teams say, “If Campbell County can go in there and compete, why not us?”
Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories about some of Wyoming’s biggest high school sports underdogs.
In the fall of 1981, Kelly Walsh senior Diana Jones was on the verge of something unprecedented — a fourth consecutive state cross country championship.
Cross country was still relatively new to girls in Wyoming, having been added as a sport only in 1975. However, Jones took to it quickly and won the individual championship as a freshman, sophomore and junior. No other Wyoming cross country runner, boy or girl, had ever won four, and she had it in sight.
As a senior, though, Jones’ two eventual biggest challengers at the state meet were relative unknowns.
One was a sophomore from Sheridan who finished 40 seconds behind Jones at the finish of the 1980 championship race.
The other was a freshman from Worland who was taking her first steps in one of the greatest high school careers ever seen by an athlete in Wyoming history.
They didn’t know it yet, but the trio of runners were on the verge of turning in what might well be the most exciting finish ever seen at a state cross country meet.
The problem is that 41 years later, the details of that race in the minds of the three runners are all fuzzy.
For all three, however, even though the specific bits and pieces of one race didn’t stay, the lessons of competition remained.
The race, the finish, the records — eventually, they all became secondary to the actual people running the race, the character they built and showed and the lives they led not because they won or lost, but in what they learned from giving their best in the moments when their best was required.
So who were these runners set to try to dethrone Jones?
The freshman: Worland’s Francie Faure would become one of Wyoming’s most decorated high school athletes by the time her high-school days ended. She won the Milward Simpson Award, which goes to the state’s top all-around male and female athletes, in 1985. She earned it, having won three consecutive cross country championships and 13 individual track titles — including a four-year sweep of titles in both the 800 and 1600. She was the first girl in state history to win four 1600 titles. And she still has the 3A state meet record in the 400 and the all-time state record in the 800, the oldest mark still standing. After Worland, she earned her place on the track team at track-crazy Oregon.
The sophomore: Sheridan’s Marcy Haynes finished sixth at state cross country as a freshman. She went on to win both the 400 and 800 races at the Class AA state track meet as a freshman, and she’d later win the 400 as a sophomore and a senior. She set high school meet records in middle-distance running throughout the region, some of which stood for decades. She later ran collegiately for a trio of track programs in the Midwest.
The trio — Jones, Faure, Haynes — raced at the 1981 girls track and field meet without fully realizing what was at stake.
Everyone knew Jones was going for state history and her fourth consecutive title.
No one knew Faure would win the next three.
And then there was Haynes, the one standing between two runners and their chances to do what no other Wyoming cross country runner had accomplished.
Jones knew how delicate her grasp was on the titles. After winning titles as a freshman and sophomore, she faced a stiff challenge as a junior from Gillette’s Linda Goddard. Goddard beat Jones handily at the regional meet before state and was on pace to do so again during the state championships. Goddard actually beat Jones by 13 seconds but was disqualified for “missing a flag,” the equivalent of taking a shortcut on the course, early in the race. Jones, who had finished second, was named champion, her third straight.
But that was nothing compared to the challenge that was about to come her way in the 1981 championship race in Lander.
Three runners, one second between them. Two four-peat attempts quashed in less time than it takes to read their times out loud.
But how that came to be? How three runners all ended up at the finish line within a second of each other?
When reached this summer, all three had only faded memories of that race, if any.
Jones said she had no memory of her final high school race.
“It was probably so traumatic that I blocked it out,” she said.
Haynes, too, has no memory of her only state cross country championship.
“Cross country really wasn’t my thing,” she said. “It was something I had to do. She (Jones) was a distance runner, so it probably was more upsetting to her than it was exciting for me. … Maybe that’s why I ran well, because I didn’t think about it.”
Faure has the clearest memory of the trio, but even her details aren’t complete; she needed to touch base with her high school coach, Doug Reachard, for some of the details.
Faure said she was a distant third when Reachard called out to her over the last 100 or 150 yards to go catch the leaders. She tried, but came up short of a miraculous comeback. For Faure, she said “it wasn’t one of those nip-and-tuck battles. It just was for the last second. … At the finish line, I was there when they were there.”
Even though the details of the championship didn’t stick with any of the three runners, the lessons they picked up from competing helped guide them throughout their lives.
Haynes — now Marcy Zadina — fought knee injuries in high school and, despite surgery, never fully returned to her form, finishing third at state as both a junior and a senior. She still ran collegiately, first at Nebraska before a stress fracture in her foot forced surgery and the end of that path. She later joined the track and field team at South Dakota State, then bounced around a bit before finishing her degree and her track career at Minnesota-Duluth.
After having the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons — one who is now a collegiate hockey player and the other who is an actor — she settled in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where she lives with her sister.
Meanwhile, Jones — now Diana Schwahn — had an accomplished cross country career at Weber State. She then went to the University of New Mexico, receiving her degree in physical therapy in 1989. She now practices physical therapy and runs a physical therapy business in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I still run, not as fast, obviously, and not as far, but at least three or four times a week,” she said. ” … Through cross country I learned how to be a leader, and now in business I’m a leader.
” … Cross country is extremely hard work, so I think I’ve been able to take those skills and apply them to my work life.”
Faure, the youngest of the group, ran for the University of Oregon and lived in Eugene for 22 years before moving to Seattle in 2007. She works for Brooks, which makes running shoes and apparel.
Faure said track and field showed her the importance of “giving your best and showing up for your team. There’s just lifelong lessons that are kind of ingrained that I don’t even think about them anymore. … At this point I probably take (the lessons) for granted.”
With both Jones and Faure thwarted in their four-peat attempts, Wyoming went another two decades before its first four-time state cross country champion.
Natrona’s Sarah Balfour became Wyoming’s first such athlete in 2004, winning four consecutive Class 4A championships. The next year, Rocky Mountain’s Emily Higgins completed a four-year sweep of the Class 2A championships. And, of course, eventual Gatorade national cross country runner of the year Sydney Thorvaldson of Rawlins won four straight at Class 3A from 2017-20.
On the boys’ side, Saratoga’s Grant Bartlett could become the first four-time champ this year as he goes for his fourth Class 2A championship this weekend.
As the runners from 1981 showed, winning a fourth championship doesn’t dictate success or failure beyond that one race.
Note: This is the third in a series of stories about some of Wyoming’s biggest high school sports underdogs.
Compared to Wyoming’s larger schools, Saratoga was late to the wrestling party.
The Panthers did not even had a wrestling program until the 1953-54 school year, seven years after the sport was sanctioned in Wyoming.
Then again, Dale Federer was not a part of things until then.
Federer, who grew up on the family homestead in southeastern Wyoming, went to Cheyenne High and joined the wrestling team while at the University of Wyoming, came to Saratoga in 1953 with plans to bring the sport to the upper North Platte valley.
The challenge of developing a competitive, much less a championship, program to Saratoga was daunting. Once high school wrestling was established in Wyoming as a high school sport in 1946-47, early wrestling championships were the exclusive domain of big schools.
After Cody won the state’s first six wrestling championships, a group of big schools — Cheyenne Central twice, Rock Springs and Laramie once each — all won state championships. Usually, those titles came while competing against other large schools, who were often the only ones to field wrestling teams.
Only one classification of wrestling existed at the time, unlike the three-classification setup (4A, 3A and 2A) that Wyoming has today. In those days, small schools had little chance to compete for a championship, much less win one.
Then, behind an innovative coach and a rare collection of talent, Saratoga proved that assumption wrong.
The school had fundraisers to support the fledgling program. And even with a couple missteps, the Panthers’ youngsters were quick studies. Each year, they did a little better. In 1954, the Panthers finished eight out of 10 teams at the state meet; in 1955, they were seventh out of 12; in 1956, sixth out of 16.
By the 1956-57 season, the Panthers were consistently among the top wrestling teams in the state. Federer was president of the Wyoming Wrestling Coaches Association.
And in the first practice of that new season, one of the final pieces of a potential champion showed up in a freshman phenom who went on to rewrite Wyoming’s high school wrestling record books.
Dave Edington has a special place in Wyoming’s high school wrestling history — the first wrestler to ever win four individual state championships.
His first title came in 1957. Not coincidentally, that season, Saratoga blitzed the competition, including all those big schools who were there first, and romped to the team title at the state meet.
This championship was no fluke. The tiny school that was only a few years removed from adding the sport had the deepest and most talented team in the state, beating the likes of Cheyenne, Casper and Laramie.
Saratoga finished with three individual champions — Edington at 120 pounds, sophomore Merle Oxford at 95 pounds and senior Ron Perue, who was undefeated for the season, at 145 pounds. Junior Gary Maki finished as the runner-up at 112 and sophomore Norm Perue was the runner-up at 154, while senior Rod Johnson was third at 133.
Saratoga finished with 73 team points, well more than runner-up Newcastle at 62. The remaining 13 teams in the team standings — all of them Class AA or Class A teams, as Saratoga was the only Class B team entered at the meet to score any points — couldn’t come close to matching the pace set by the Panthers.
Edington was without a doubt a special talent. After winning his fourth title in Saratoga in 1960, all without losing an in-state match in four years, he wrestled at the University of Wyoming and went undefeated as a freshman. But in a match early in his sophomore year, his opponent suffered a blood clot mid-match and died. Edington was forced to take time away from wrestling, and when he tried to return, he was out of condition. He never wrestled competitively again.
However, his wrestling journey was only beginning.
As a wrestling coach in Ronan, Montana, Edington established his second legacy. Over 20 years (1968-88), Ronan won eight state championships, including five consecutive from 1978-82, and had 33 individual champions. Other accolades and opportunities rolled in at the state, national and international levels, including a coaching spot on the 1976 Olympic team.
Today, Edington is in his early 80s and lives in Ronan.
Federer, meanwhile, found his calling beyond Saratoga and beyond Wyoming.
After returning to the University of Wyoming to pursue his doctorate in counseling, Federer joined the faculty at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in 1963. He continued there until 1987, when he retired after a career that included starting a crisis hotline in the area and developing a senior peer counseling program. His civic leadership roles in San Luis Obispo continued long into his retirement, and he died in 2016.
Although other wrestling championships came, Saratoga never again put together an all-class championship — in fact, Saratoga remains as the only all-class champion to come from the Class B ranks in the 18 years before Wyoming split into three classifications of wrestling prior to the 1964-65 season.
The Panthers finished fourth at state in 1958, third in 1959 and seventh in 1960. However, when three-class wrestling was established, Saratoga won the first three Class B wrestling championships in 1965, 1966 and 1967. The team also won Class B titles in 1974, 1975 and 1977 and came within a point of winning it all in 1976, as well.
However, Saratoga hasn’t finished in the top five at a state wrestling meet since 1998.
Even so, the Panthers’ title paved the way for other smaller schools to try wrestling. In less than a decade after Saratoga’s championship, three-class wrestling had come to Wyoming, and schools that had never tried wrestling before or had done so on a limited basis expanded their programs to take advantage of the new opportunity.
Direct lines can be traced from Saratoga’s 1957 championship to the sport as it exists in Wyoming today.
After all, it took the Panthers to prove wrestling wasn’t just a sport for big schools.
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.
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.
Final heat (place)
Chris Brown, Albin
Brandy James, Encampment
Anna Hubbard, Big Horn
Becca Brown, Albin
Dawn Holder, Big Horn
Kim Bonner, Hanna
“Fast heat” participants are in bold.
Based on the results above, we can surmise that in this “fast” heat, one of three things happened:
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…
The timing was off for the first heat, and who knows what the times were? OR…
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.
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.
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.
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:
Type of heat
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Boys Jared White, Cheyenne East, 1992-95 Robert George, Kelly Walsh, 2013-16
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:
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
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.
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
(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.