“If there has ever been a dynasty in Grand County High School sports, it’s this year’s senior class, who have now taken state three times in boys track,” said GCHS head coach Dennis Wells.
The Grand boys scored a total of 104 points during the two-day meet, easily outpacing second-place Delta’s 72 points.
After returning to Moab shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday, the Red Devils celebrated their victory with a late-night ride down Main Street atop a fire truck with police escort, as a line of honking vehicles followed. Numerous people lining the streets clapped and cheered as the parade passed by.
Senior Jacob Francis accounted for 25 points himself, winning both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races and taking fourth in the 800-meter race. He also anchored the medley relay, which took second place for another eight points.
In the 1,600-meter event on Friday, Francis broke his own personal record and the GCHS school record for the third time this season. Francis finished the race in a time of 4 minutes, 25.41 seconds, more than four seconds ahead of Wasatch Academy’s Jack McCulloch, who finished in 4:29.72. Francis also came within about one-third of a second of the 2A state record of 4:25.06, which was set by Lance Harrison of Richfield in 1986.
Francis finished his remarkable career with a stunning first-place finish in the 3,200-meter race on Saturday. Francis ran amid the middle of the pack for much of the race, as McCulloch stayed in the lead. Then, during the latter part of the final lap, Francis suddenly sprinted into the lead, edging past McCulloch just before reaching the finish line. Francis finished in 9:53.65, while McCulloch took second in 9:53.97.
“I ran that last lap in 1:01,” Francis said later. “I honestly don’t know where that came from.”
Grand’s 4x400 meter relay team also took first place in state, setting a new school record in the process. Andy Bathemess, Wade Kemmsies, Mason Tranter, and Jordan Bryant combined for a time of 3:28.95, beating second-place Delta’s time of 3:31.46. Grand’s previous school record of 3:29.24 was set by the same four athletes two weeks earlier at the BYU Invitational.
Bathemess, a senior, also took first place in the 300-meter hurdles, posting a winning time of 39.84 seconds. He placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.82. Bathemess earned points at the state meet all four years of high school, Wells noted.
Kemmsies, a senior, placed in three individual events, taking third in the 110-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 15.65 seconds. He also took fourth in the 400-meter run and sixth in the 300-meter hurdles, despite those two events being staged within 20 minutes of one other.
“Wade literally had to hop off the medals podium and go straight to the starting line for the [300 hurdles] race,” coach Wells said.
Bryant, also a senior, took second place in the 300-meter hurdles, posting a time of 40.66 seconds. He also took sixth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.25. Both were personal-best times.
“Our two hurdles races really helped ensure us of taking state,” Wells said. “These boys have worked hard all year long.”
During Monday’s spring sports awards night program at the GCHS auditorium, Wells recounted how Grand had led Delta by just a single point, 22-21, at the end of the day Friday, May 16, the first day of the state meet.
Delta, which had formerly competed at the 3A classification, moved down to 2A this year and had expectations of winning state, Wells said.
“I kept the boys on the bus Saturday morning and told them all what they had to do to win it, and they went out and did it,” Wells said. “By the time it got down to the last few events, we had a 30-point lead over Delta and we knew they couldn’t catch us. We didn’t let it be a close race.”
Also for the Grand boys team, Tranter, a junior, placed eighth in the 800-meter race. Grand’s second-place medley relay team, which set a new school record of 3:39.01, consisted of Bathemess, Tranter, Bryant and Francis running legs of 200, 200, 400, and 800 meters, respectively.
In addition, Jackson Knowles, a senior, placed seventh in the 800-meter run.
Two senior throwers, David Bentley and Edgar Gomez, placed in both the discus and shot put at the state meet. Bentley took fifth in the shot put and eighth in the discus, while Gomez finished sixth in both events.
Also for Grand, javelin thrower Richie Cordero, a junior, took second place in that event with a toss measuring 157 feet, 11.25 inches.
Grand’s girls track team also fared well at state, with the Lady Devils ending up taking sixth place out of 17 teams and scoring 48.5 points.
Leading the way was senior Madison Stocks, who won the discus throw with a toss of 102 feet, 6.75 inches. Senior teammate Kayeley Wells placed second in that same event with a personal-best throw of 99 feet, 3.25 inches. Sophomore Britnee Lewis also placed sixth in the discus for Grand.
Other placers at state for the Lady Devils were as follows: senior Mercedes James placed fourth in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the 1,600-meter run. Senior Tiffanie Whipple took second place in the long jump with a personal-best leap of 17 feet, 4.75 inches on her final jump of the day. Whipple also placed seventh in the 100-meter hurdles. In addition, junior Kasey Betts placed third in the high jump, and the Lady Devils took eighth place in all three relay races.