Nobody ran the mile faster than Wood River High senior Chase Caulkins last week when the 93rd annual Idaho High School Track and Field Championships were staged at Bronco Stadium in Boise.
And no female athlete in Wood River school history has thrown the discus farther than sophomore Cheyenne Swanson did Thursday in winning the State 4A discus gold medal during the same competition.
Gold medals by Caulkins in the 1600-meter run Friday and Swanson in the discus the previous day were the highlights for Wood River at state track. They were the first State 4A track and field gold medals for both Wolverine athletes.
Caulkins, Wood River's school record holder in the 1600m and 3200m distance runs, had a excellent run in Thursday's final but was just nipped on the homestretch by Hillcrest junior Tyler Crofts. Both Crofts and Caulkins broke the 4A classification record in earning their gold and silver medals.
The final time for Crofts was 9:16.40 and Caulkins was clocked in 9:20.05. They were the top two 3200m times of all athletes in Boise last weekend. Caulkins had gone out very hard and set a torrid pace, and Crofts finally caught him.
Caulkins' running mate James Paris, a junior, ran a personal best of 9:50.35 placing fifth in Thursday's 3200m final.
Determined to avoid another silver medal performance, Caulkins started out slower in the first lap of Friday's four-lap 1600m final. He was well back 200m into the race. He said, "But I felt the pace was too slow. I put the hammer down."
With the chilly wind a factor, the strong pace that Caulkins maintained in the second and third laps were too much for his main competition—Twin Falls sophomore and top-seeded Erik Harris. Earlier in the evening Harris had needed all his energy to hold off Columbia senior Zach Burney for the 800m gold.
Harris couldn't catch Chase.
Caulkins (4:19.83) built a 70m lead going into the final lap and took it home for the gold by 6.41 seconds, just as Hailey junior James Paris (4:28.42) pushed Harris to the limit and had a chance to overtake the Twin Falls runner with 200m left.
Harris (4:26.24) held on for second place with Paris third. Meanwhile, Caulkins was just 1.9 seconds off the state record on a windy and cool evening.
Caulkins said, "I definitely felt it in my legs the second and third laps. The wind was a factor. But I feel really good about winning the race, especially with the second place last night. And it looked like Wood River might end up 1-2 the way James was running."
Before heading off to the University of Portland's excellent track and cross country program, Caulkins said he hopes to compete in a national scholastic outdoor meet in North Carolina this June.
Meanwhile, Swanson has two more years to build on her success in the throws.
Girls' coach J.C. Nemecek said, "On her first throw Cheyenne set a new personal record of 109-8 to pull ahead of the rest of the contestants. She never lost that lead as she continued to open it up. On her second throw she set a new school record of 115-5 and then broke that with a throw of 115-11."
That 115-11 was Swanson's gold medal throw, four feet and two inches farther than the runner-up athlete and about a foot-and-a-half better than Jessica King's previous school discus mark of 114-6, in 2004.
Nemecek added, "Cheyenne continued her outstanding performance by also establishing a new personal best in the shot put with a throw of 32-1, narrowly missing qualifying for the finals in that event (she was 10th). She showed a great deal of poise and maturity in her outstanding performances."
Other state highlights were, coach Monte Brothwell said:
Senior Colton Seely threw 111-2 in boys' discus; sophomore Ben Stout ran a personal best of 2:02.35 in 800m placing 10th; and junior Andrew Pfeiffer ran a personal best 3200m time of 10:14.66 placing 12th.
Wood River's boys finished 12th as a team with 28 points. Rigby (91) took its first-ever State 4A title and Minico of Rupert (76.25) earned the team silver. Bishop Kelly of Boise (73) won its first girls' team title since 2004 as Twin Falls (66.5), Jerome (62) and Minico (56.5) were 2-3-4 for trophies.