The steady climb reached the top for the Laramie High girls indoor track and field team.
The Lady Plainsmen — buoyed by a strong start Friday — kept its cushion Saturday to win its first state championship in program history since the sports was sanctioned in 2006 by the Wyoming High School Activities Association.
The LHS girls were third three years ago and runner-up the last two seasons. The Lady Plainsmen tallied 112 team points to hold off Cheyenne Central, who finished with 93 and Rock Springs was third at 89.
“With momentum from a great first day, the girls were able to keep the lead and pull away,” LHS coach Greg Schabron said. “Almost everyone placed at least where they were ranked and many placed above their individual rankings — the girls placed in 14 of 16 events and won six events.
“We actually cancelled our team meeting because we felt that they were exactly where they needed to be mentally and the excitement and confidence was obvious. They certainly didn’t need motivation. They were on a mission.”
After four event wins on Friday, the Lady Plainsmen received two more on Saturday from Rawlins standout sophomore distance runner Sydney Thorvaldson, who competed for Laramie during the indoor season.
Thorvaldson, who broke a state record in the 3,200 meters on the first day, added a new state record in the 1,600 when she won in 4 minutes, 57.20 seconds. Cheyenne Central’s Claudia Miller was second in 5:18.60.
Thorvaldson also won the 800 in 2:18.50 with Cody’s Riley Smith runner-up at 2:21.68 and Miller third in 2:23.68.
“It was cool this season because she was able to communicate and get workouts and race plans throughout the season,” Schabron said. “It is not very often you get to work with an athlete of that caliber.”
Schabron said Thorvaldson will be competing at the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet Friday and Saturday at the New Balance Track and Field Center at The Armory in New York City. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 3,200.
LHS junior Emmy Johnson, who won the 400 on Friday, had another strong day when she was runner-up in the 200 in 26.38. She battled with Rock Springs’ Alyssa Bedard, who won in 26.07. Johnson had the better prelim time at 26.38 on Friday. Johnson was also fifth in the 55 in 7.57.
The Lady Plainsmen 4x200 relay team was runner-up in 1:47.68 — just four-tenths of a second from first as the team from Rock Springs won in 1:47.28. The LHS team was Johnson, senior Ketisa Akambasi, junior Rachel King and senior Aubry Sanchez. Sanchez won the pole vault on Friday. Akambasi was also third in Saturday’s long jump with a distance of 16 feet, 10 inches and seventh in the 55 in 7.67.
Sophomore Taylor Gardner was runner-up in the 55 hurdles when she finished in 8.85. Bedard won in 8.42 for her third event win on the final day.
Also scoring valuable team points for the Lady Plainsmen was sophomore Libby Berryhill, who was seventh in the 1,600 in 5:33.24.
The Plainsmen had a goal of finishing in the top three after winning their second state title last season.
The LHS boys were just 2½ points short of that target with 68½ team points for fifth place. Sheridan won with 106, Star Valley was second at 88 and Cheyenne East and Casper Natrona tied for third with 71.
“The boys did very well,” Schabron said. “We always shoot for at least a top-three finish. They didn’t have any first-place finishes, but really earned a lot of points with second place, (third place) and top-eight finishes.”
Senior Jason Upton, who was runner-up in the long jump Friday, had another solid day in three events Saturday. Upton was third in the 55 in 6.65, third in the triple jump at 43-5½, and fourth in the 200 in 23.07.
Senior Derk Lyford and junior Mason Swingholm led the LHS distance runners with Lyford third in the 1,600 in 4:36.58 and Swingholm third in the 800 in 2:01.69.
Senior Matt Smith was fifth in the triple jump at 42-3½ and sophomore Aiden Morris tied for sixth in the pole vault at 12-6.
Both relay teams also scored team points for the Plainsmen.
The 4x200 relay team of Smith, senior Larenzo Ebell, junior Kevin Ayala and junior Joseph Chlapowski was eighth in 1:37.86. The 4x400 relay team of Ebell, Dahl, senior Woodrow Gamboa and senior Kellan Vasquez was sixth in 3:43.77.
At about 8:15 p.m. in Laramie a police escort with emergency lights on and horns honking from the procession guided two buses down Third Street before taking a left on Grand Avenue with the student-athletes hanging out the windows for a celebration that was a long time coming.