Green River football coach Kevin Cuthbertson resigned at the end of the season, shortly after the Wolves’ season-ending loss to Evanston.

The Green River Star reported that Cuthbertson notified his players of his resignation on Oct. 24, three days after Green River’s season ended with a 44-7 loss to Evanston.

Cuthbertson was the Wolves’ coach for the past three seasons. Green River went a combined 4-21 over that span, including a 2-7 finish this season.

Cuthbertson, a Green River alumnus, is the first Wyoming high school football coach to resign this offseason. If you know of other head coaching changes in the state, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

Note: This is the sixth in a series of stories about some of Wyoming’s biggest high school sports underdogs.

Few championships were as unexpected at the start of a playoff round as Cheyenne Central’s Class 5A title run in 2005.

After the regular season, the Indians were a lackluster 4-4.

Three weeks later, they were polishing off a dominating championship game against their crosstown rival.

By the end of it all, Central’s players were hoisting a trophy to represent the school’s first football championship in 16 years.

“We had just a great bunch of kids all around, and they’re the ones who need the credit,” said Brick Cegelski, the coach who led the Indians to the title and who stepped down in 2013 after 18 seasons as head coach. “I was just so happy to coach the kids that we had and to see them grow up together. 

” … They were all great lifters, they were all multi-sport kids, and they’re all really great friends. When you have a group like that, things are gonna be good.”

They didn’t start that way.

After two games, no one except the most die-hard fan had Central in the championship conversation. Central started 0-2, losing its first game to Kelly Walsh by the less-than-inspiring score of 45-7 and falling to Thompson Valley, Colorado, 32-14.

The Indians recovered to beat Green River and Evanston to even their record at 2-2 before losing to Cheyenne East in the Capital Bowl, East dominating in a 31-7 victory.

That East game was supposed to be a test of Central’s growth. Instead, it became a distraction from the realities around them. For Cegelski, the week of the East game was one of the toughest in his life, as his sister Val died from cancer the same week.

“It was just a bad week all around,” he said.

Victories against Rock Springs and Laramie, followed by a home loss to Natrona, left Central at 4-4, just good enough for a home playoff game. But not much else was expected of the Indians — that is, if they could even get out of the first round.

In the week leading up to the quarterfinal game, though, something shifted in Central’s practices.

“We had a really good No. 1 team going against a really good scout team,” Cegelski said. “I don’t know if we ever really had that (in future seasons). We just had a feeling that all of a sudden we got really good.

“Our kids felt it, we felt it, and we figured we were gonna make a run at it and come out on top.”

To start the playoffs, Central played Laramie, a team the Indians needed double overtime to beat just two weeks prior in a 45-42 squeaker. The quarterfinal was similarly close, with the Indians narrowly pulling out a 27-20 victory.

In the semifinals, Central faced Natrona, 8-1 and the top-ranked team in the state heading into the playoffs. Natrona controlled the pace early and took a 17-3 lead in the third quarter after a pick-six. But Central came back and tied the game at 17, the tying touchdown from Corey Wheeler coming with 47.7 seconds remaining. Bryan Hill’s 1-yard touchdown run in overtime was the deciding score in a 23-20 overtime victory.

The Indians celebrated on the field — and then celebrated in the locker room when they heard they would get a second chance against their crosstown rivals.

“We heard East won, (and) we cheered in our locker room,” Cegelski said. “And I know they cheered in their locker room because they already kicked our ass once.”

The presence of two cross-town rivals in Wyoming’s big-school championship led to perhaps one of the most hyped title games in state history. The game was moved to Friday night to accommodate an anticipated big Cheyenne crowd, as well as a live television broadcast, something rare for football in Wyoming in the pre-streaming days. Even with the television option, extra portable stands were brought in to the old Okie Blanchard Stadium to accommodate the expected excess crowd.

Although a bit of wind and rain that night kept some fans away, estimates of somewhere between 5,000 and 7,500 fans showed up.

In the championship game, though, the Indians skipped the dramatics. They jumped out to a 20-0 lead and held on to win 27-14, securing the school’s first, and only, football championship since 1989.

“From the very first drive, I could tell by the line of scrimmage that this East high team didn’t have a chance,” Cegelski said. ” … Kids just played out of their hats. They played to the ability that we thought we had.”

Cheyenne Central’s 2005 team is one of only four Wyoming championship teams that ever finished its season being outscored by its opposition; for the year, Central was outscored 245-244.

But Central scored enough points when they had to, a testament to the growth in maturity and poise the team had throughout the season.

Leading the Central team under center was Brick’s son, also named Brick, which made the championship run extra sweet for the coach.

“Our little boys turned into men, and I think that’s our story,” he said.

–patrick

One of the most bizarre coincidences about the opening round of the Wyoming high school football playoffs in 2022 is how neatly divided the rematches and the new games are.

Two classifications will have games that we’ve seen recently.

Two classifications won’t.

And 3A is split right down the middle.

In both 4A and six-man, the games are rematches of regular-season matchups — mandatory in 4A due to its round-robin schedule, but more surprising in six-man where that’s not the case. Meanwhile, none of the games in the 2A or 1A nine-man brackets are rematches of earlier 2022 games.

In 3A, both the Powell-Douglas and Worland-Cody games are rematches of regular-season games. The other two games — Star Valley-Lander and Jackson-Buffalo — are not. Yet all four are rematches of first-round playoff games from a year ago. In the case of the last two, the games are being played at the opposite stadium from last year’s quarterfinals.

The regular-season repetition is more eerie in six-man, though.

Every game in six-man is a repeat of a Week 5 game. And three of the four games are in the same location as those Week 5 games; only Hulett-Snake River, which was played on a neutral field in Midwest in Week 5 but will be in Baggs this week, is in a different spot from the other games.

In the land of foreignness, Burns and Lyman are meeting for the first time ever in each other’s program histories, as are Big Piney and Pine Bluffs. Those games are always cool to keep an eye on, as they open a new chapter of a new series for all four teams.

Everyone who is a host this week has been a host for at least one playoff game since 2019 except Tongue River, which is hosting its first playoff game since 2016, and Dubois, which is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2014.

Natrona is in the playoffs for the 31st consecutive year, Cokeville the 30th, Big Horn the 24th, Douglas the 21st. Meanwhile, Tongue River breaks the longest active drought, reaching the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

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Quarterfinal games usually end up in one of three categories: (1) ugh, (2) maaay-beeee, and (3) heck yes. Short list of heck-yes games: Cokeville-Tongue River, Lingle-Rocky Mountain, Wind River-Southeast. Those three games will be worth the admission price. The other 17 maaay-beeee, too, but in different ways.

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On to the picks, where bold means what you think it does:

Friday
Class 4A
(8) Laramie at (1) Sheridan
(5) Thunder Basin at (4) Cheyenne Central
(7) Rock Springs at (2) Cheyenne East
(6) Campbell County at (3) Natrona
Class 3A
(4W) Powell at (1E) Douglas
(3E) Lander at (2W) Star Valley
(4E) Worland at (1W) Cody
(3W) Jackson at (2E) Buffalo
Class 2A
(4W) Mountain View at (1E) Big Horn
(3E) Burns at (2W) Lyman
(4E) Newcastle at (1W) Lovell
(3W) Cokeville at (2E) Tongue River
Class 1A nine-man
(4W) Big Piney at (1E) Pine Bluffs
(3E) Lingle at (2W) Rocky Mountain
(4E) Lusk at (1W) Shoshoni
(3W) Wind River at (2E) Southeast
Class 1A six-man
(4S) Farson at (1N) Burlington
(3N) Meeteetse at (2S) Dubois
(4N) Hulett at (1S) Snake River
(3S) Encampment at (2N) Kaycee

For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Quarterfinals” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 30-4 (88 percent). This season: 241-38 (86 percent).

+++

What road team seems the most likely to come away with a first-round victory and buck the home-field advantage trends we typically see in the playoffs? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

Evanston and Green River played the 100th game in their series on Friday, becoming just the seventh series in Wyoming to reach that milestone.

Other series with more than 100 games played are:

  • Cheyenne Central-Laramie: 138 games
  • Lander-Riverton: 126 games
  • Cody-Powell: 125 games
  • Natrona-Sheridan: 116 games
  • Central-Natrona: 109 games
  • Big Piney-Pinedale: 107 games

Of those rivalries, only Big Piney-Pinedale won’t be played or has not been played this season. Other series close to the 100 milestone are:

  • Torrington-Wheatland: 99 games
  • Worland-Thermopolis: 97 games
  • Douglas-Wheatland: 96 games
  • Green River-Rock Springs: 96 games
  • Evanston-Star Valley: 95 games
  • Douglas-Torrington: 94 games
  • Lovell-Greybull: 92 games
  • Laramie-Natrona: 92 games

In the Evanston-Green River series, Green River leads 59-35-6. Of all series with at least 100 games played, it’s the most lopsided.

–patrick

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?”

–patrick

Here are the projected Wyoming high school football playoff pairings. Official pairings will be released by the Wyoming High School Activities Association. The higher seed will be the host team for the first two rounds, with championships to be played at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

Class 4A
(8) Laramie at (1) Sheridan
(5) Thunder Basin at (4) Cheyenne Central
(7) Rock Springs at (2) Cheyenne East
(6) Campbell County at (3) Natrona

Class 3A
(4W) Powell at (1E) Douglas
(3E) Lander at (2W) Star Valley
(4E) Worland at (1W) Cody
(3W) Jackson at (2E) Buffalo

Class 2A
(4W) Mountain View at (1E) Big Horn
(3E) Burns at (2W) Lyman
(4E) Newcastle at (1W) Lovell
(3W) Cokeville at (2E) Tongue River

Class 1A nine-man
(4W) Big Piney at (1E) Pine Bluffs
(3E) Lingle at (2W) Rocky Mountain
(4E) Lusk at (1W) Shoshoni
(3W) Wind River at (2E) Southeast

Class 1A six-man
(4S) Farson at (1N) Burlington
(3N) Meeteetse at (2S) Dubois
(4N) Hulett at (1S) Snake River
(3S) Encampment at (2N) Kaycee

–patrick

Class 2A football this week will be full of matchups of Biblical proportions.

Well, maybe not Biblical. But the parallels to at least one story are hard to ignore.

In both the 2A East and 2A West conferences, one game will decide the last playoff entrant from that conference. Coincidentally, both games match up teams with boatloads of recent success against teams that have all too often just been fodder for that success — two scenarios of David meeting Goliath in real time.

In the West, it’s simple. Kemmerer and Mountain View will meet with the fourth seed from the conference at state. The winner heads to Big Horn in the first round of the playoffs; the loser stays home.

The past decade for these two programs could not be any different. In the past nine years, Kemmerer has made the playoffs once. Mountain View has made it eight times, and won three state championships.

But Goliath was struck down by David last season when Kemmerer beat Mountain View 21-20 in Lincoln County, the Rangers’ first victory over the Buffalos since 2011.

In the East, Torrington and Newcastle encounter a similar scenario. Win, they’re in — Newcastle as the No. 4 seed, Torrington as either No. 3 or 4 depending on how the rest of the week’s games play out. Lose, they’re out.

And again, one team has a decided recent advantage, one that goes beyond this decade.

Newcastle’s last victory against Torrington came in 2006 — the only time in their 18 games since 1984 that the Dogies came out on top against the Trailblazers. Read that again, slowly.

Torrington is the big man on campus in the East, or more specifically the big campus on campus, moving from 3A to 2A a couple years ago. Still, Torrington has reached the championship game in whatever classification it’s been in three of the past five years. Newcastle, meanwhile, has as many state championship game appearances as programs like St. Stephens and Encampment — one — and zero state titles.

In the West, Goliath (Mountain View) gets the home field. In the East, it’s David (Newcastle).

In both cases, the question of which program will find success and a playoff berth, the one with recent success or the one trying to establish its own legacy, is the kind of stuff that keeps me coming back to this week after week. If a moment like this can’t get you fired up for high school sports, nothing will.

And in 2A this week, we get it twice.

+++

In all, 19 games have an effect on playoff seeding this week. Here are a handful that are really driving my attention in Week 8, playoff affecting or not:

Riverton and Worland are in the same situation as those 2A teams mentioned above — win and they’re in, lose and they’re out. The only problem with winning this week is the winner has to go to Cody in the first round of the playoffs. Next time your English teacher asks you to define a Pyrrhic victory, just show them this scenario right here. …

Similarly, Riverside and Big Piney are locked in to a winner in/loser out marriage, although Big Piney’s potential seedings are more variable than Riverside’s are. Also in the 1A nine-man West is a hugely important game between Rocky Mountain and Wind River, two teams with big hopes but imperfect conference records. And all of it will be sorted out by Thursday night, thanks to some earlier-in-the-week scheduling. …

Another matchup that pits two teams striving for home-field rights in the first round is the one between Lyman and Cokeville. And it’s a big one, because the loser has to spend about eight years on a bus to get to Dayton and play Tongue River in the first round of the playoffs. With gas prices as high as they are, look for a more spirited game than usual. …

Three teams are fighting for the final two home playoff spots in Class 4A, with Thunder Basin’s visit to Natrona the lynchpin of all the scenarios. Both teams have looked solid this season, so I’m curious to see how this plays out. …

Outside of six-man, the only first-round pairing that is absolutely set is the 4A game between locked-in 7 seed Rock Springs and locked-in 2 seed Cheyenne East. Rock Springs gets practice traveling to the Capital City this week by playing at Central; East gets practice hosting this week by welcoming Kelly Walsh. What an odd quirk. …

The best game on the schedule just might be the one in six-man between 6-1 Dubois and 7-0 Burlington. With both teams on the same side of the six-man bracket — and both knowing they’ll likely have to go through the other to reach Laramie — don’t look for too much crazy stuff this weekend. Both teams are likely saving that for two weeks from now. …

I don’t know what it is (masochism? pity? empathy? familiarity?), but I kind of like it when two winless teams meet in Week 8. We know at least one will end the season with a victory. That’s happening twice this week, with Moorcroft hosting Guernsey and Ten Sleep traveling to Hanna.

+++

For the last time this regular season, here are some choices. Some were tough. Some were not. All were interesting. Bold means projected winner, as per usual ’round these here parts.

Thursday
Class 1A nine-man
Riverside at Big Piney
Rocky Mountain at Wind River
Interclass
Natrona JV at Shoshoni
Rock Springs JV at Snake River
Friday
Class 4A
Campbell County at Sheridan
Cheyenne South at Laramie
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne East
Rock Springs at Cheyenne Central
Thunder Basin at Natrona
Class 3A
Buffalo at Rawlins
Cody at Powell
Green River at Evanston
Lander at Douglas
Riverton at Worland
Star Valley at Jackson
Class 2A
Big Horn at Burns
Glenrock at Upton-Sundance
Kemmerer at Mountain View
Lovell at Thermopolis
Lyman at Cokeville
Torrington at Newcastle
Wheatland at Tongue River
Class 1A nine-man
Guernsey at Moorcroft
Lusk at Wright
Saratoga at Lingle
Southeast at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Burlington
Interclass
Casper Christian at Hulett
Cody JV at Meeteetse
Interstate
Pinedale at Rich County, Utah
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Farson
Midwest at Encampment
Ten Sleep at Hanna
Interclass
Wyoming Indian at Shoshoni JV
Open: Greybull.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 8” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 31-1 (97 percent). This season: 211-34 (86 percent).

+++

Who’s your favorite underdog ready to pull a surprise in the final week of the regular season? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

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.

The results on the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s website tell the story better than anyone involved can do today.

  • First place: Haynes, Sheridan, 12:39.
  • Second place: Jones, Kelly Walsh, 12:40.
  • Third place: Faure, Worland, 12:40.

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.”

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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.

The memory will eventually fade.

The lessons will stay.

–patrick

Here are the playoff scenarios for all classifications of Wyoming high school football entering Week 8 of the 2022 season:

Class 4A
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Cheyenne South at Laramie; Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne East; Rock Springs at Cheyenne Central; Thunder Basin at Natrona.
Sheridan: In. No. 1 seed.
Cheyenne East: In. No. 2 seed.
Natrona: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory. No. 5 seed with loss and Central victory.
Cheyenne Central: In. No. 3 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory. No. 4 seed with Natrona victory, win or lose. No. 5 seed with loss and Thunder Basin victory.
Thunder Basin: In. No. 3 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. No. 4 seed with victory and Central victory. No. 5 seed with loss.
Campbell County: In. No. 6 seed.
Rock Springs: In. No. 7 seed.
Laramie: Neither in nor out. No. 8 seed with victory. Tie for No. 8 seed (score differential to break) with loss and East victory. Out with loss and Kelly Walsh victory.
Kelly Walsh: Neither in nor out. No. 8 seed with victory and South victory. Tie for No. 8 seed (score differential to break) with loss and South victory. Out with loss and Laramie victory.
Cheyenne South: Out.
Tiebreaker possibility 1: In a case where Natrona, Central and Thunder Basin tie for the 3-4-5 seeds, Central wins the tiebreaker and the No. 3 seed; even if Thunder Basin wins by 12 or more, the ‘Bolts can’t overtake the Indians (current differential is Central +8, Natrona +4, Thunder Basin -12). Thunder Basin would then be the No. 4 seed due to a head-to-head victory against Natrona.
Tiebreaker possibility 2: In a case where Central, Thunder Basin and Campbell County tie for the 4-5-6 seeds, Central wins the tiebreaker with head-to-head victories over both. Thunder Basin would be No. 5 with the head-to-head victory against Campbell County.
Tiebreaker possibility 3: In a case where Laramie, Kelly Walsh and South tie for the 8 seed, score differential would be the tiebreaker. Laramie wins a tiebreaker if it loses by four or fewer points; KW wins a tiebreaker if Laramie loses by five or more points. Currently, the differences are Laramie +7, Kelly Walsh +3 and South -10. If South wins by three points or fewer, Laramie would win the tiebreaker and advance. If South wins by four, Laramie and Kelly Walsh would tie in the score differential, Laramie then advancing on head-to-head over KW. If South wins by five or more points, Kelly Walsh would win the tiebreaker. Even if South wins by 12 or more, the Bison can’t win a score differential tiebreaker.

Class 3A East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Buffalo at Rawlins; Lander at Douglas; Riverton at Worland.
Douglas: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Buffalo victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Rawlins victory.
Buffalo: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Lander victory. No. 2 seed with Douglas victory, win or lose. No. 3 seed with loss and Lander victory.
Lander: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Rawlins victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Buffalo victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Riverton, Worland: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Rawlins: Out.
In a scenario where Buffalo, Lander and Douglas tie for the 1-2-3 seeds, score differentials will be used. All three teams have a chance to be the No. 1 seed in this scenario depending on margin of victory in the Lander-Douglas game. Current differentials are Douglas +7, Buffalo +1, Lander -8. In this scenario, if Lander beats Douglas by six or fewer points, Douglas wins the tiebreaker. If Lander beats Douglas by seven or eight points, Buffalo wins the tiebreaker. If Lander wins by nine or more points, it wins the tiebreaker. The head-to-head winner of the two remaining teams takes the No. 2 seed, the remaining team the No. 3.

Class 3A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Cody at Powell; Green River at Evanston; Star Valley at Jackson.
Cody: In. No. 1 seed.
Star Valley: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Cody victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Powell victory.
Powell: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Jackson victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Star Valley victory. No. 3 seed with loss, Star Valley victory and Green River victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Evanston victory. No. 4 seed with loss, Jackson victory and Green River victory.
Jackson: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Cody victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Powell victory. No. 3 seed with loss, Cody victory and Evanston victory. No. 4 seed with loss, Powell victory and Evanston victory. Out with loss, Cody victory and Green River victory. Out with loss, Powell victory and Green River victory.
Green River: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory, Star Valley victory and Powell victory. No. 4 seed with victory, Star Valley victory and Cody victory. Out with Jackson victory. Out with loss.
Evanston: Out.
Tiebreaker possibility 1: In a scenario where Star Valley, Jackson and Powell tie for the 2-3-4 seeds, Powell would take the No. 2 seed with the victory against the highest seeded non-tied team, Cody. Jackson takes the No. 3 seed with the head-to-head victory against Star Valley, which would be No. 4.
Tiebreaker possibility 2: In a scenario where Jackson, Powell and Green River tie for the 3-4-out seeds, score differentials would be used (Powell +9, Green River 0, Jackson -9). Powell wins the tiebreaker with a +9 differential and would be the No. 3 seed. Green River then takes the No. 4 seed with the head-to-head victory over Jackson.

Class 2A East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Big Horn at Burns; Torrington at Newcastle.
Big Horn: In. No. 1 seed.
Tongue River: In. No. 2 seed.
Burns: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Newcastle victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Torrington victory.
Newcastle: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Torrington: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Big Horn victory. No. 4 seed with victory and Burns victory. Out with loss.
Glenrock, Upton-Sundance, Wheatland: Out.

Class 2A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Kemmerer at Mountain View; Lyman at Cokeville.
Lovell: In. No. 1 seed.
Cokeville, Lyman: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Kemmerer, Mountain View: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Pinedale, Thermopolis: Out.

Class 1A nine-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Lusk at Wright; Saratoga at Lingle; Southeast at Pine Bluffs.
Pine Bluffs, Southeast: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Lingle: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Wright victory. Tie for 3-4-out seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Lusk victory.
Lusk: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Lingle victory. Tie for 3-4-out seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Saratoga victory. Tie for No. 4 seed (score differential to break) with loss and Lingle victory. Out with loss and Saratoga victory.
Saratoga: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Wright victory. Tie for 3-4-out seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Lusk victory. Out with loss.
Wright: Neither in nor out. Tie for No. 4 seed (score differential to break) with victory and Lingle victory. Out with Saratoga victory. Out with loss.
Guernsey: Out.
Moorcroft: Ineligible for playoffs.
Tiebreaker possibility 1: In a scenario where Lingle, Saratoga and Lusk tie for the 3-4-out seeds, score differentials would be used. Currently, Lingle has the advantage, as current differentials are Lingle +12, Lusk 0, Saratoga -12. Saratoga would have to win by 12 or more to force a tie and a coin flip to decide the seeds. If Saratoga wins by 11 or less in this scenario, then Lingle wins the score differential tiebreaker and the No. 3 seed and Lusk takes the No. 4 seed with the head-to-head victory against Saratoga.
Tiebreaker possibility 2: In a scenario where Saratoga, Lusk and Wright tie for the No. 4 seed, score differentials would be used. Current differentials are Lusk +12, Wright -4 and Saratoga -8. If Wright wins by eight or more, it would win this tiebreaker. A loss by seven or fewer would give Lusk the tiebreaker victory. Saratoga is out in this scenario.

Class 1A nine-man West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Riverside at Big Piney (Thursday); Rocky Mountain at Wind River (Thursday).
Shoshoni: In. No. 1 seed.
Wind River: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Riverside victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Big Piney victory.
Rocky Mountain: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Riverside victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Big Piney victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Riverside victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Big Piney victory.
Big Piney: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Rocky Mountain victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Wind River victory. Out with loss.
Riverside: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Greybull, St. Stephens: Out.
Wyoming Indian: Ineligible for playoffs.
Tiebreaker possibility 1: In a scenario where Wind River, Big Piney and Rocky Mountain tie for the 2-3-4 seeds, score differentials would be used. Current differentials are Big Piney +2, Wind River +2 and Rocky Mountain -4. A Rocky Mountain victory by five or less would give Wind River the tiebreaker victory and the No. 2 seed, with Big Piney taking the No. 3 seed due to a head-to-head victory against Rocky Mountain. A Rocky Mountain victory by exactly six points would tie Wind River and Rocky Mountain atop the score differential, giving Rocky Mountain the No. 2 seed due to head-to-head against Wind River and the Cougars the No. 3 seed due to head-to-head against Big Piney. The same thing happens if Rocky wins the score differential by winning by seven or more: Rocky 2, Wind River 3, Big Piney 4.
Tiebreaker possibility 2: In a scenario where Big Piney, Rocky Mountain and Riverside tie for the 3-4-out seeds, score differentials would be used. Current differentials are Rocky Mountain +8, Big Piney +4 and Riverside -12. A Riverside victory by any margin would not be enough to overtake Rocky Mountain, so Rocky would win that tiebreaker and the No. 3 seed. Riverside would the be the No. 4 seed due to a head-to-head victory against Big Piney.

Class 1A six-man playoff pairings (decided in Week 7)
(4S) Farson at (1N) Burlington
(3N) Meeteetse at (2S) Dubois
(4N) Hulett at (1S) Snake River
(3S) Encampment at (2N) Kaycee

–patrick

Updated at 11:24 a.m. Oct. 15 to clarify Powell’s status. Updated at 9:52 p.m. Oct. 15 to reflect the final pairings for six-man.

When Tongue River and Big Horn met on the field on Sept. 2, 1977, in Big Horn, neither team may have realized the game they were about to play would decide the Powder River Conference championship.

As it turns out, it did — Tongue River beat Big Horn 21-0, the first of six consecutive conference victories as the Eagles finished their conference schedule unbeaten. Big Horn went on a similar run, winning its five final conference games to go 5-1, one game short of a playoff berth that Tongue River eventually used to reach the Class B championship game.

That 1977 season was the last time the Eagles and Rams finished next to each other, first and second, in conference play, meaning that early September game in 1977 was the last time the two teams played each other with a conference title on the line.

Well, until 2022. Until this week.

The game the longtime Sheridan County rivals will play on Friday will ultimately decide the top seed in this year’s Class 2A East race. Whoever wins will be the top seed, no matter what happens in Week 8, as every other team in the conference has at least two league losses.

Tongue River and Big Horn haven’t had the problems other conference opponents have had this season.

The Eagles come in unbeaten, starting 7-0 for the first time since 2006, when Tongue River finished the regular season unbeaten. Last week’s 13-7 victory against Burns was the first time this season Tongue River won by a one-possession margin of victory.

Meanwhile, Big Horn is 5-1, but the only loss in that stretch came courtesy of top-ranked Lovell in a 14-7 thriller. Since then, the Rams have rolled through 2A East foes with margins of victory of 34, 49, 35, 35 and 33.

For the first time in 45 years, the rivals meet with a championship on the line.

At least this time, they know what’s at stake.

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Other games I’m sneaking a peek at this week:

Shoshoni and Wind River have a history that’s similar to Big Horn and Tongue River, which I wrote about last season. For the second year in a row, it looks like the Fremont County rivals will play a game that decides the conference champion. With as tough as the top of the 1A nine-man West has been this year, I can only imagine the hype that’s going to play out Thursday night in Pavillion. …

In August 2021, I made a bold, albeit private, proclamation in conversation with some other Wyoming media types. I said the team that might have the best chance of going undefeated in 2022 was Natrona. Although the Mustangs haven’t met that lofty expectation, losing to East in the second game of the season, Natrona still enters its game this week against undefeated Sheridan on a roll of its own, a 6-1 record buoyed by its current five-game winning streak. This is Sheridan’s only road game of the year against a team with a winning record, so the Broncs might be tested in ways they haven’t been all season. Should be interesting. …

The middle of the 2A East was always going to be messy. It’ll get even messier if Upton-Sundance can go on the road and beat Torrington, keeping the Patriots’ playoff hopes alive after an 0-4 start to conference play. …

Lingle’s loss to Southeast last week took a bit of a shine of this week’s game between the Doggers and Pine Bluffs. The Hornets have been a rampaging beast of a team all season, but I’m more curious to see how Lingle responds to some adversity after a fast start to its season. …

The 3A slate is underwhelming at first glance, but two games — Jackson visiting Powell and Worland stopping by Lander — have huge playoff implications for the West and East conferences, respectively. I can’t get a read on any of these four teams, but maybe Week 7, and the results of these two games, will help with that? …

News came to me this week that St. Stephens has canceled the rest of its season. Rocky Mountain picked up a game with Natrona’s JV on Thursday in Buffalo, while Greybull will keep its Week 8 slate open. Here’s hoping that whatever is happening with the Eagles gets resolved in time for next season.

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Picking potential winners never gets old, just like upsets never get old. Bold means I think that team will win.

Thursday
Class 1A nine-man
Shoshoni
at Wind River
Interclass
Rocky Mountain vs. Natrona sophs (at Buffalo)
Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne Central
at Campbell County
Cheyenne East at Cheyenne South
Laramie at Rock Springs
Sheridan at Natrona
Thunder Basin at Kelly Walsh
Class 3A
Evanston at Cody
Green River at Star Valley
Jackson at Powell
Rawlins at Douglas
Riverton at Buffalo
Worland at Lander
Class 2A
Burns
at Wheatland
Cokeville at Thermopolis
Lovell at Kemmerer
Mountain View at Pinedale
Newcastle at Glenrock
Tongue River at Big Horn
Upton-Sundance at Torrington
Class 1A nine-man
Big Piney
at Wyoming Indian
Greybull at Riverside
Guernsey at Lusk
Moorcroft at Wright
Pine Bluffs at Lingle
Southeast at Saratoga
Class 1A six-man
Dubois
at Hanna
Midwest at Meeteetse
Interstate
Lyman
at Rich County, Utah
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Burlington
at Ten Sleep
Farson at Snake River
Hulett at Kaycee
Open: Encampment.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 7” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 29-4 (88 percent). This season: 180-33 (85 percent).

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What rivalries do you see getting better and better, or with stakes getting higher and higher, this season? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick