Classic rivalries live on forever.

Like, say, cats vs. dogs. Or cats vs. birds.

For these two classic feline rivalries, at least in terms of Wyoming football, the cats are 1-1.

That’s because in games involving cat mascots, the cats lead the series against the dogs but are behind in the series against the birds.

To clarify: 16 Wyoming high schools with football in their history have, or have had, cats as their mascots. This includes Panthers (Arvada-Clearmont, Cokeville, Manville, Powell, Saratoga, Wright); Tigers (Encampment, Lander, Lusk, Rock Springs); Bobcats (Basin, Thermopolis, Upton); Bearcats (Douglas); Cougars (Wind River) and Wildcats (Albin).

When those teams go up against the teams with dog mascots, the cats usually escape with the victory. The dog teams — Wolves (Green River, Moorcroft, NSI), Bulldogs (Lovell, Sundance, Wheatland), Huskies (Burlington) and Coyotes (Carpenter) — trail in their series with the cats 525-369-27.

When the hunted becomes the hunter, though, the cats aren’t quite as fortunate. Against the bird teams — Eagles (Byron, Glendo, Heart Mountain, Lyman, St. Stephens, Tongue River), Thunderbirds (Cheyenne East) and Hawks (Hawk Springs) — the cats trail 172-181-5.

And you have now completed reading what might be the most ridiculous post I’ve ever put on this blog.

–patrick

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.

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.

+++

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:

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.

+++

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.

–patrick

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

About a decade ago, I looked at Wyoming’s record against out-of-state opponents.

In the past 10 seasons, the Equality State’s success record against out-of-state foes remained remarkably stable.

Wyoming’s all-time record for varsity vs. varsity games involving an out-of-state opponent is 1,581-1,526-105, a winning percentage of .509.

That winning percentage is exactly what it was 10 years ago.

Wyoming’s opportunities for out-of-state games have mostly come against teams from the six bordering states. Here is how Wyoming has fared in those series:

Wyoming vs. Nebraska (836 games): Wyoming trails 383-435-18 (.469)
Wyoming vs. South Dakota (826 games): Wyoming leads 434-363-29 (.543)
Wyoming vs. Montana (493 games): Wyoming leads 243-232-18 (.511)
Wyoming vs. Colorado (487 games): Wyoming trails 217-241-29 (.475)
Wyoming vs. Idaho (330 games): Wyoming leads 166-155-9 (.517)
Wyoming vs. Utah (226 games): Wyoming leads 129-95-2 (.575)

Other series include:
Wyoming vs. North Dakota: Series tied 2-2
Wyoming vs. Saskatchewan: Wyoming leads 2-1
Wyoming vs. Alberta: Wyoming leads 2-0
Wyoming vs. Texas: Series tied 1-1
Wyoming vs. Minnesota: Wyoming leads 1-0
Wyoming vs. Nevada: Wyoming leads 1-0
Wyoming vs. Kansas: Wyoming trails 0-1

The most common out-of-state series is (still) Sheridan vs. Billings Senior, Montana; the two squads have played each other 59 times, although the last meeting came in 1969.

Other series with at least 40 games are Torrington vs. Gering, Neb. (55); Newcastle vs. Custer, S.D. (52); Newcastle vs. Lead, S.D. (44); Cheyenne Central vs. Fort Collins, Colo. (41); Jackson vs. Teton, Idaho (41); and Sheridan vs. Miles City, Mont. (40).

Meanwhile, 10 active programs — Cheyenne South, Farson, Lander, Riverside, St. Stephens, Shoshoni, Thunder Basin, Wind River, Wright and Wyoming Indian — have never played a varsity out-of-state opponent.

–patrick

Richie Mitchell.

Rob Russell.

Casey Lass.

These three Wyoming high school football players are bound by one similarity — their shoes were the last thing to touch a football in a state championship game.

All three had game-winning kicks on the final play of a championship game, the only three such players to have that honor since state football title games started officially in Wyoming in 1931.

Perhaps not coincidentally, all three had their kicks in overtime.

Russell came first in the capper to one of the most exciting championships in state history. Russell’s extra-point kick on the final snap of the third overtime helped Cody defeat Laramie 41-40 in the Class AA championship in 1976.

Mitchell kicked an extra point on the final snap of overtime to give Thermopolis a 21-20 victory against Lovell in the Class 2A title game in 1990.

Lass’ 18-yard field goal (shorter than an extra point) came on the final play of overtime in Worland’s 17-14 victory against Star Valley in the 2002 3A title game.

Across 260 all-time championship games, they are the only three to end with a kick through the uprights to make title dreams come true.

Honorable mentions

The closest Wyoming has ever come to a regular-season final-play deciding kick came in 1997. Brooks Paskett kicked a field goal with 9 seconds left in the Class 3A title game in 1997 to boost Riverton to a 23-20 victory against Star Valley.

Also, Moorcroft’s Kyle Workman (1996), Meeteetse’s Jason Yockey (1993), Jackson’s Bill Wiley (1986) and Pinedale’s Tanner Boone (1975) hit field goals in the final two minutes of their games to help their respective teams win state championships. Workman and Yockey broke ties; Wiley and Boone boosted teams that trailed at the moment of their kicks.

On the “what could have been” end of things, Cokeville missed a short field goal in the final minute of the 2006 Class 1A title game that would have likely won the game; instead, Guernsey-Sunrise claimed the crown.

Is there a title-game, playoff or regular-season kick that sticks out in your memory? Leave a comment about it!

–patrick

Weekly rankings from 1955-83 and from 1952 have been added to the annual listings on wyoming-football.com.

This all but completes a big chunk of research on weekly polls, the first part of which — from 1984 to 2021 — was posted and shared on wyoming-football.com in January.

Polls from 1955 to 1983 included two polls per week — one from the Associated Press and, usually, one from United Press International. Prior to 1960, though, the UPI poll was not yet being conducted, and a poll from the Wyoming Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters fills those years.

The top five teams in each classification have been ranked since 1972. From 1965-70, the top 10 teams in both Class AA/A and Class B were ranked in the UPI polls, while the top 10 in all classes were ranked in the single AP poll. (The exception is in 1971, when the AP ran top fives for Class AA, Class A and Class B, while UPI ran top 10s in Class AA/A and Class B.) Prior to 1965, both the AP and UPI/WASS poll had one set of all-class rankings, which ranked the top 10 teams regardless of classification.

Here’s more on how rankings have changed over time.

Once again, a huge thank you goes out to “Stat Rat” Jim Craig for his help in filling in the numerous missing pieces I had in this research. This wouldn’t have been possible without his help!

You can access the weekly polls on the results by year page.

+++

Here are some updated records on who’s had the most consecutive weeks ranked and most consecutive weeks at No. 1:

Consecutive weeks ranked (minimum 40 weeks)

Top 10 streaks
Cokeville: 194 weeks (1993-2015)
Sheridan: 114 weeks (2009-20)
Cokeville: 94 weeks (1982-92)
Campbell County: 87 weeks (1996-2007)
Cheyenne Central: 82 weeks (1963-70)
Buffalo: 77 weeks (2003-11)
Laramie: 76 weeks (1959-66)
Big Horn: 73 weeks (2012-20)
Lusk: 73 weeks (1994-2003)
Byron: 71 weeks (1965-72)
Next 10
Lovell: 70 weeks (1987-95)
Campbell County: 68 weeks (2010-16)
Lusk: 66 weeks (2008-15)
Meeteetse: 63 weeks (1987-94)
Natrona: 63 weeks (1959-65)
Star Valley: 63 weeks (2015-21) *active
Guernsey-Sunrise: 62 weeks (2002-08)
Douglas: 61 weeks (2008-15)
Farson: 61 weeks (2015-21)
Natrona: 61 weeks (2010-16)
Others longer than 40 weeks:
Big Horn: 59 weeks (1983-89)
Sheridan: 59 weeks (1981-87)
Big Piney: 58 weeks (1998-2005)
Cheyenne Central: 58 weeks (1976-82)
Upton-Sundance: 56 weeks (2014-20)
Kelly Walsh: 54 weeks (1979-84)
Natrona: 52 weeks (2001-07)
Sheridan: 52 weeks (1956-61)
Cheyenne East: 51 weeks (2011-16)
Cheyenne East: 50 weeks (2017-21) *active
Mountain View: 49 weeks (2016-21)
Rock Springs: 49 weeks (1986-91)
Laramie: 46 weeks (1967-71)
Kemmerer: 45 weeks (2005-10)
Rocky Mountain: 45 weeks (1994-2000)
Star Valley: 45 weeks (1990-95)
Natrona: 44 weeks (1955-59)
Cody: 43 weeks (2017-21) *active
Thunder Basin: 43 weeks (2017-21) *active
Southeast: 43 weeks (2005-10)
Laramie: 42 weeks (1994-99)
Laramie: 41 weeks (1955-59)
Midwest: 41 weeks (1983-87)
Natrona: 41 weeks (2016-20)
Star Valley: 41 weeks (1980-85)
Mountain View: 40 weeks (1993-98)
Torrington: 40 weeks (1987-92)

+++

Consecutive weeks at No. 1 (minimum 10 weeks)

Top 10 streaks (OK, 12…)
Sheridan: 23 weeks (1991-93)
Rocky Mountain: 22 weeks (1997-99)
Cokeville: 21 weeks (2001-03)
Powell: 21 weeks (2012-14)
Meeteetse: 20 weeks (1989-91)
Natrona: 20 weeks (2011-13)
Tongue River: 20 weeks (1966-68)
Douglas: 19 weeks (2009-11)
Snake River: 19 weeks (2010-12)
Big Horn: 18 weeks (2018-19)
Glenrock: 18 weeks (2016-17)
Cheyenne Central: 18 weeks (1989-90)
Remainder of top 20…
Big Horn: 17 weeks (1985-87)
Kemmerer: 16 weeks (2007-08)
Rock Springs: 16 weeks (2001-03)
Laramie: 15 weeks (1969-70)
Riverton: 15 weeks (1998-99)
Big Horn: 14 weeks (2007-08)
Laramie: 14 weeks (1964-65)
Laramie: 14 weeks (1968-69)
Rocky Mountain: 14 weeks (1995-96)
Others with at least 10 consecutive weeks at No. 1…
Campbell County: 13 weeks (1997-99)
Lovell: 13 weeks (2011-12)
Sheridan: 13 weeks (2017-18)
Torrington: 13 weeks (1974-75)
Cheyenne Central: 12 weeks (1979-80)
Cokeville: 12 weeks (1996-97)
Cokeville: 12 weeks (2009-11)
Lovell: 12 weeks (1987-88)
Star Valley: 12 weeks (2016-17)
Star Valley: 12 weeks (2018-20)
Big Horn: 11 weeks (2003-04)
Dubois: 11 weeks (2012-13)
Laramie: 11 weeks (1960-61)
Laramie: 11 weeks (1962-63)
Midwest: 11 weeks (1979-80)
Powell: 11 weeks (2000-01)
Sheridan: 11 weeks (1986-87)
Thermopolis: 11 weeks (1992-93)
Tongue River: 11 weeks (1974-75)
Buffalo: 10 weeks (2004-05)
Cokeville: 10 weeks (1991-92)
Cokeville: 10 weeks (2014-15)
Meeteetse: 10 weeks (1987-88)
Meeteetse: 10 weeks (2015-16)
Natrona: 10 weeks (1963-64)
Natrona: 10 weeks (2010)
Rocky Mountain: 10 weeks (1992-93)
Southeast: 10 weeks (2007-08)
Southeast: 10 weeks (2020-21)

Got any questions about the polls? Leave a comment and let’s chat about it.

–patrick

With a game-high nine tackles, including eight solo tackles, Natrona County graduate Logan Wilson may have had the best game ever by a former Wyoming high school football player in a Super Bowl.

In Sunday’s game, Wilson, a second-year linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, finished Super Bowl LVI with nine total tackles, the best on either team; he also led both teams with three tackles for loss. Despite Wilson’s sheet-filling stat line, the Bengals lost the game 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams.

Here’s how Wilson’s performance in the Super Bowl stands up to the performances of the four other former Wyoming high school football players to reach that stage:

Brett Keisel, DE, Greybull: Played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowls XL, XLIII and XLV. Had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, in Super Bowl XL; had five tackles in Super Bowl XLIII; had three tackles in Super Bowl XLV.

Boyd Dowler, WR, Cheyenne: Played for the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowls I and II. Did not make the box score in Super Bowl I (injured on sixth play); had two catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl II.

Jerry Hill, RB, Lingle: Played for the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowls III and V. Ran nine times for 29 yards and a touchdown (the Colts’ only one) in Super Bowl III; on the roster but did not make the box score in Super Bowl V, the last game of his career.

John Burrough, DE/DT, Pinedale: Played for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Did not make the box score.

Honorable mention goes to LB Brady Poppinga of Evanston, who was on injured reserve for the Packers during Super Bowl XLV.

–patrick

I firmly believe that even bad football is good football.

And that even after more than 100 years and after close to 26,000 Wyoming high school football games, there hasn’t been a single bad game.

With that in mind, and inspired by Secret Base/SB Nation’s YouTube series “The Worst,” I set out to find the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, honestly, even bad football is good football.

Finding the worst among the nearly 26,000 games played, though, is as much as a struggle as finding the best (as I tried to do the past two decades, the 2000s and the 2010s).

I decided to hone in on a specific kind of game — the kind where two teams that were otherwise winless during the season played each other. Once I identified those kind of games, I looked to see how those teams did in the remainder of their respective seasons. Specifically, I was looking for two teams that, outside the one game they played against each other, lost all their other games that season by at least 30 points.

Only one 11-man game in state history met that condition.

In 2004, Midwest defeated Wyoming Indian 26-12 in the season opener for both teams. With the conditions outlined above, I’m willing to call this game the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played.

Now, the “worst” is a loaded term here. It may not be the worst single game — as I’ll explain — but it very well might be the game between the two worst teams. Think of it this way: If you could rank every single season of every single team, and put them all on one line, the rankings of 2004 Midwest and 2004 Wyoming Indian might combine to be the lowest combined ranking of two teams playing each other in any one game.

So why is this game worth your attention, 18 years after it was played? Isn’t this the kind of game we’d want to forget — not highlight?

Nah. Even bad football is good football.

Just look at the team stats box score, which I cobbled together from the video of the game on YouTube. (Yes, this game is on YouTube. I’ll take the blame, or the thanks.) It honestly looks pretty normal, or at least typical of a 1A season opener.

Midwest 26, Wyoming Indian 12

Mid      0          20        0          6 – 26

WI       0          6          0          6 – 12

Team stats               Mid                     WI

First downs              13                       8

Rushes-yards           46-196                28-81

Passing C-A-I-Y        6-11-0-98           3-7-1-50

Total plays-yds         57-294                35-131

Fumbles-lost            7-1                      2-1

Penalties-yds           6-71                    3-25

When this game was played on Aug. 27, 2004, it was clear this was far from a state championship preview. The Oilers went 1-6 in 2003 and had only scored 14 points the entire season; Wyoming Indian had gone 1-7 and lost its last six, the beginning of what eventually became a 26-game losing streak.

The 2004 film showed the Chiefs only had two players available on the bench, the Oilers only three. Do the math; combined, these two teams had 27 players available for this game. But these kinds of games happen often, or at least often enough for this game not to be a huge exception to the rule in 1A football.

Not every play was beautiful:

And it seemed like the lines on both teams never learned about leverage, at least according to the way they stand straight up on plays like this one.

But the game DID have a couple nice hits…

… and good enthusiasm, like my man doing the “conversion dance.”

Now, on to my four favorite plays of the game:

(4) Watch the Chiefs’ right tackle against the Oilers’ defensive lineman on this play. My Midwest man got so turned around that he tried to tackle a tackle. The WIHS O-lineman was just like “What is HAPPENING right now?” before gently tossing the dude to the ground.

(3) Imagine being Midwest’s middle linebacker and taking on a QUADRUPLE TEAM from the Chiefs’ offensive line. Intimidation bonus +10; yardage bonus though only +1.

(2) Not a play, but Midwest’s pre-snap movement here had the Chiefs’ defense completely discombobulated. Just like they planned it?

(1) My favorite play BY FAR is this Midwest touchdown, which came on the last play of the first half and gave Midwest a 20-6 lead heading into halftime. The play is fine. But don’t watch the play so much as the celebration. It’s either some of the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen, or it’s the most SAVAGE thing I’ve ever seen a wide receiver do to a defensive back.

(If you follow wyoming-football.com on Twitter, you got a sneak peek at this play.)

On this Friday in 2004, the game was little more than another Week 1 tally. Only after the season did its true historic nature take hold.

For the rest of the 2004 season, neither the winning Oilers or the losing Chiefs had a single close game. Midwest’s closest game in 2004 aside from the Chiefs game was a 38-point loss (46-8) to 2-7 Hanna; Wyoming Indian’s closest loss aside from Midwest was a 32-point loss (38-6) to 2-6 Riverside. As noted… this game is the only 11-man game in state history where two otherwise winless teams lost every other game in their seasons by at least 30 points.

Two such six-man games have come in recent years (Ten Sleep defeating St. Stephens in 2017 and Midwest defeating Dubois in 2018), and it’s happened once in nine-man (St. Stephens defeating Wyoming Indian in 2021), but obviously scoring comes differently in those versions of the game.

Watching the 2004 Midwest-Wyoming Indian game in retrospect, in no way, shape or form was it well played. But it was fun to watch, even 18 years later, and for the players I’m sure it was fun to play. I think it proves even bad football is good football.

–patrick

When I posted last week that weekly rankings for Wyoming high school football back to 1984 had been researched and published, I knew I would have lots of different questions I could answer with the new information.

This post is answering some of those.

Below, I have outlined answers to four different questions I immediately had: (1) Which team has spent the most consecutive weeks ranked in the top five? (2) Which team has spent the most consecutive weeks ranked No. 1? (3) Which season/classification had the most teams ranked No. 1 during the year? (4) Which season/classification had the most stability in a single season?

While some questions were limited to answers since 1984 only, some answers could be tracked back to the mid-1950s, when statewide polls began. I hope to publish weekly rankings from the 1950s through 1983 as soon as I think it’s in a state worthy of sharing publicly. It’s not there yet. 🙂

As for answers? Well, here you go:

Consecutive weeks

Cokeville had an amazing run of 194 consecutive polls in which they were ranked in the top five. That stretch ran for 23 years, from 1993 to 2015.

Sheridan had the second-longest run of consecutive polls ranked, with 114 in a row from 2009-20.

Since 1984, the top 10 streaks of being ranked somewhere in the top five are:

  • Cokeville: 194 weeks (1993-2015)
  • Sheridan: 114 weeks (2009-20)
  • Campbell County: 87 weeks (1996-2007)
  • Buffalo: 77 weeks (2003-11)
  • Cokeville: 77 weeks (1984-92)
  • Big Horn: 73 weeks (2012-20)
  • Lusk: 73 weeks (1994-2003)
  • Lovell: 70 weeks (1987-95)
  • Campbell County: 68 weeks (2010-16)
  • Lusk: 66 weeks (2008-15)

The longest active streak is Star Valley, which has been ranked in the last 63 polls back to 2015.

Meanwhile, Sheridan spent the most consecutive weeks at No. 1, going 23 polls between 1991 and 1993 ranked first.

The top 10 streaks of being ranked No. 1 since 1984 are:

  • Sheridan: 23 weeks (1991-93)
  • Cokeville: 21 weeks (2001-03)
  • Powell: 21 weeks (2012-14)
  • Meeteetse: 20 weeks (1989-91)
  • Natrona: 20 weeks (2011-13)
  • Douglas: 19 weeks (2009-11)
  • Snake River: 19 weeks (2010-12)
  • Big Horn: 18 weeks (2018-19)
  • Glenrock: 18 weeks (2016-17)
  • Cheyenne Central: 18 weeks (1989-90)

Most different teams ranked No. 1

The classification and season with the most variability was Class 3A in 1986. In that season, six different programs were ranked No. 1. While Evanston was the preseason No. 1 (and there was no poll prior to Week 2), Jackson was ranked first in Week 3, followed by Star Valley (Weeks 4-5), Glenrock (Week 6), Powell (Week 7), Torrington (Weeks 8-9) and Powell again (Week 10).

The fact that there was so much variability at the top in 3A that season was no surprise. In all, no team in 3A that season finished with fewer than three losses, but nine of the 12 programs in 3A finished with at least four victories. Jackson (6-4) beat Douglas (5-5, and never ranked No. 1) in the 3A title game that year.

No single classification in any other season has had six teams ranked No. 1, although six other seasons have had five teams ranked No. 1 in a single season. This happened most recently in 1996 in Class 4A. It also previously happened in Class AA (1966, both AP and UPI), Class A (1979, AP, and 1974, UPI) and Class B (1979, UPI).

Most stability

As noted in my first post about rankings, going wire-to-wire as No. 1 is not uncommon — 60 teams have done so since 1984 alone.

However, in one season we saw the top four teams go unchanged all season long, and it wasn’t that long ago.

In 2020, Southeast, Rocky Mountain, Lusk and Shoshoni held down the top four spots in Class 1A nine-man all season long, in order, never changing their spots. It’s the only time in Wyoming history that I can find where the top four teams remained in the same four spots all season long.

In fact, only one other time did the top three teams in a classification stay that way all season. That came in 1995, when the top three teams in Class 1A-Division I went Rocky Mountain, Lusk, Moorcroft, in that order in every poll. Eight other seasons have had the same two teams go 1-2 in every poll, most recently in Class 4A in 2017 with Sheridan and Natrona.

Got anything else you’re curious about with the weekly polls? Leave a comment and I’ll see if I can answer it.

–patrick

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

+++

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

—-

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

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

—-

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

–patrick

If you follow sister site wyoming-basketball.com on Twitter (or if you follow wyoming-football.com on Facebook, where an occasional wyoming-basketball.com update will show up), you will by no doubt have seen that I enlisted the help of former Wyoming high school coach John Tate to come up with the top 25 boys and top 25 girls basketball players from the state since 1976.

Not everyone agreed with John’s choices, which is fine — we’re all entitled to our opinion, and I love the discussion that these kinds of lists can generate.

What we’re not allowed to do, though, is fudge our facts. And what’s become increasingly clear from the comments left on Facebook, on Twitter and on the site is that we grossly overestimate the number of four-time all-state basketball selections who have played in Wyoming.

Thanks to a collection of research posted on wyoming-basketball.com, we now have full all-state teams back to 1932 available on demand for every season.

And we have a list of two-time, three-time and four-time all-state selections. Type in “4x” into the search bar here, and you’ll see the list of four-time all-state selections is small, just 21 players — 16 girls, five boys — all-time.

The five boys? Wyoming Indian’s Myron Chavez (1983-86); Snake River’s Dale Reed (1986-89); Ten Sleep’s Logan Burningham (2010-13); Buffalo’s Trey Schroefel (2013-16); and Pine Bluffs’ Hunter Thompson (2014-17). That’s it.

The girls’ list is longer and includes:

  • Amy Carver, Mountain View, 1977-80
  • Deb Sylte, Newcastle, 1978-81
  • Debbie Jacobson, Evanston, 1985-88
  • Jamie Crawford, Greybull, 1986-89
  • Sara Horton, Greybull, 1990-93
  • Molly Marso, Campbell County, 1995-98
  • Sunny Guild, Mountain View, 1995-98
  • Mary Brown, Thermopolis, 2001-04
  • Alysia Kraft, Encampment, 2002-05
  • Tahnee Robinson, Lander, 2003-06
  • Tayler Anderson, Lyman, 2006-09
  • Robbi Ryan, Sheridan, 2013-16
  • Madison Vinich, Kelly Walsh, 2015-18
  • McKinley Bradshaw, Lyman, 2016-19
  • Ky Buell, Rock Springs/Cheyenne East, 2017-20
  • Allyson Fertig, Douglas, 2018-21

So if you want to claim that someone who wasn’t listed among John’s top 25s deserved a spot there, or deserved a higher spot, totally cool! Let’s talk about it; you might just be right. Be sure to leave a comment on those posts (girls and boys) on wyoming-basketball.com.

But if you want to claim that someone was a four-time all-state selection and they weren’t, well… now you’re a liar. Because you now have the tools to know better.

–patrick

Updated 9:49 a.m. Dec. 31 to include Chavez, who was unintentionally left off the first list.

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