Priest River baseball, softball and track will see over the next few days. Here is a brief rundown of how each team qualified for state.
How they got there: The Spartans won the 3A IML consolation bracket in a 12-10 win over Bonners Ferry. Yet this sentence doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Spartans punched their ticket to state in dramatic fashion. After the Badgers stormed back with a three-run seventh inning to send the game to extra innings, Priest River responded with a two-run frame of their own. Then, in his most crucial inning of his young career, freshman Everett Hannah shut down Bonners Ferry on 11 pitches to seal the deal.
Up next: District 6 champion Sugar Salem (16-11) awaits the Spartans in a first-round game at Melalueca Fields in Idaho Falls, scheduled for 6 p.m. local time on Thursday.
The Diggers made it to state with a memorable finish of their own. Led by future Treasure Valley Community College pitcher Curtis Drake, Sugar Salem will look to build upon its first District 6 title in 14 years.
Depending on how the Sugar Salem game pans out, the Spartans will play either Kimberly or Weiser on Friday.
How they got there: Despite falling to Timberlake in the 3A IML Championship game, the Spartans took out their frustrations by run-ruling Kellogg 14-4 to earn a state berth.
Up next: Priest River’s first-round draw is the South Fremont Cougars, who went undefeated in District 6 play.
Saying that South Fremont has a high-powered offense could be an understatement. Aside from the 10-8 District 6 championship game, the Cougars run-ruled their way to the title.
South Fremont was ranked fifth in the last Idahosports.com 3A coaches’ poll.
Priest River will take on South Fremont at Ramsey Park in Coeur d’Alene at 11 a.m. on Friday. The Spartans will then take on either Gooding (22-5) or Fruitland (14-11) later that evening.
TRACK AND FIELD
How they got there: Although Priest River will send only nine athletes to state this year, the Spartans have a couple athletes whom have legitimate shots at winning state titles.
“The girls team didn’t score as well as team at districts, but the four girls who qualified for state are solid and should do well at state,” Priest River head track and field coach Jared Hughes wrote in an email. “[As a team] we should have great time at state. If all the kids do as expected we should bring home several medals from the state meet.”
In the throwing circle, second-seeded Colby Poe will have to take down two sophomores — Fruitland’s Weston Jeffries in the shot and Homedale’s Thomas Symms in the discus — seeded ahead of him in order to sweep the throwing events.
The shot put will be the closest matchup of the two: Poe’s PR of 53-9.5 is a mere 2.5 inches behind Jeffries. In the discus, however, Poe (153-9) will have to make up a nine-foot gap between him and Symms (161-10). Even though nine feet sounds like a lot in discus, it’s a closer margin than it seems. To put this in perspective, Poe has already surpassed his junior year PR by 10 feet this season. Whether or not he has another big throw left in the tank remains to be seen.
Sprinter/hurdler Teagun Holycross is the Spartans’ next-best shot at a state champion. The junior will compete in the 100, 200, 300 meter hurdles, plus a 4x400 relay leg; he is the only Spartan competing in four events.
This workload brings a special set of challenges, ranging from managing his limited recovery time between events, to mentally clearing the slate from event-to-event — regardless of how well he runs in any given race. The prelims on Friday will be the biggest test of stamina: Holycross will have to go back-to-back in the 200 and 300 hurdles. Luckily for Holycross, his marquee event (the 300 hurdles) is first.
Up next: The 3A State Track and Field Championships will be held at Middleton High School this Friday and Saturday. Annika Rantala’s 3200 meter race will kick off Friday’s action at around 9:30 a.m. Noah Martinez’s 110 meter hurdles finals start Saturday’s slate at 12:30 p.m.