With an eye on that first-place trophy, the Laramie girls’ track and field team will begin its quest for a state title in Casper Thursday.

The Lady Plainsmen are trying to complete a sweep of indoor and outdoor track team titles after the squad won the state indoor championship in early March. After a good outdoor season that includes last weekend’s regional title, Laramie is considered one of the favorites for the Class 4A girls’ division after they were runner-up last year.

The Lady Plainsmen will compete with 12 members spread out over 12 of the 18 total events.

Laramie head track coach Gil Bradfield feels the race might be tight.

“We have to watch other teams that are coming on. We’ll have to see if anybody takes points away from (Cheyenne) Central, and Sheridan, and how KW (Kelly Walsh) does, and type of thing. It’ll be just having a really good weekend.”

Juniors Emmy Johnson and Abigail Whitman lead the Laramie girls’ team. Johnson is the defending champ in the 100-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles. Whitman is the defending champion in the 800-meters.

Bradfield said, “Those are two individuals that are really tough, and they’re in good shape, and let’s just hope that everything just falls into place when they step on the line, and how they finish at the end.”

Johnson will also run in the 200-meters and anchors a 4x100 meter relay team that has a shot at a title.

Whitman will run in the 1600 and 3200-meter races at state track, plus she’s slated to anchor the 1600 meter sprint medley relay.

In addition, junior Aubry Sanchez is considered a favorite in the pole vault. She will also compete in the long jump and on the 4x100 meter relay. Sophomore Taylor Gardner will be looked at in the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, and the triple jump. Fellow sophomore Libby Berryhill will compete in the 800, 1600, and 3200-meters at state. Senior Ketisa Akambsi competes in the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, and starts the 4x100 meter relay.

Bradfield says with their top point-getters, “I think they’re motivated. I think they’re focused. I think they know what’s ahead of them, what they can get out of this. As long as they stay healthy, we’ll be in good shape.”

Meanwhile, the Plainsmen are the defending 4A state champs, but they have only nine qualifiers that will compete in 10 of the 18 events.

One of those qualifiers is senior Jason Upton, who has been injured, and coach Bradfield wasn’t sure he would be healthy enough to compete. Upton pre-qualified in the 200-meters, the 300-meter hurdles, and both the long and triple jumps.

“That one is one you can’t even talk about, and we’ll see if it happens this weekend, but for the rest of them, I think they’ve worked hard. We’ll just have to see where these other teams from the other side of the state are. Obviously, our strong points are the distance (runners).”

Sophomore Micah Zeller, senior Derk Lyford, and junior Mason Swingholm anchor the distance crew. All three will be in the 1600 and 3200-meter races, as well as on the 4x800 meter relay with freshman Collin Krueger. Zeller and Swingholm will also run the 800-meters.

Seniors Ketisa Akambasi and Derk Lyford visited with KOWB’s David Settle about the state meet. They discussed their individual events, thoughts on team chances, what’s good and bad about the state track meet, and more.

The championships start on Thursday at 3 p.m. They will continue at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday. The team champions will be crowned around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

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