High school track preview: The top 50 Treasure Valley athletes to watch this spring
Treasure Valley athletes led an assault on the state record books last spring. Expect more of the same this year with a bounty of athletes returning.
We surveyed track and field coaches throughout Southwest Idaho looking for the 50 elite athletes to keep an eye on this season. Below are the results, as well as the top athletes on each team.
Athletes are not ranked in order. They are grouped by classification and sorted alphabetically by school.
TOP BOYS TO WATCH
Seth Nelson, Boise: The Washington State commit cleared 16 feet for the 5A state title a year ago, besting the field by a foot. He already topped that mark last month, clearing 16-4.75 for the Simplot Games title.
Victor Byaundaombe, Capital: He turned out for the track team for the first time last season and promptly took home a second-place medal from state with a triple jump of 44-5.25. The junior is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Kai Twaddle-Dunham, Centennial: The junior has already twice broken the school’s shot put record this year, with throws of 52-11.5 and 55-2.5. Both of those early throws would have made him the 5A state runner-up last year.
Jacob Webster, Centennial: The senior starts the year as the favorite to sweep the 5A 100 and 200 gold medals. He made the finals in both events last year, including a third-place finish in the 200. And he has the fastest official time in both events early this season.
Patxi Franks, Middleton: He unleashed a personal best throw of 161-5 for the 4A discus state title last year. Now the junior moves up to the 5A level, where the top five state finishers all graduated, opening the door for back-to-back titles.
Diante’ Cobb, Mountain View: The high jump specialist broke through for the 5A state title a year ago, clearing 6-4 twice during the season. He returns as the heavy favorite as second through sixth place all graduated.
Landon Heemeyer, Rocky Mountain: The junior had quite a cross country season, setting the course record at the Bob Firman Invite, winning a 5A individual state title and finishing as the state’s all-class Gatorade runner of the year.
Tyler Sainsbury, Rocky Mountain: The senior will team with Heemeyer to form a dominating distance duo. He won the state crown in the 1,600 and finished second in the 800 a year ago. Expect the state cross country runner-up to contend for both titles again.
Alex Lowe, Timberline: He took sixth and seventh at state in the triple and high jumps, respectively, last season. He’s already gunning for more with a state-leading triple jump of 44-9 early this season, a mark that would have made him the state runner-up last year.
Austin Clough, Bishop Kelly: He enters his senior year as the reigning 4A district champ in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, and he’s won back-to-back district cross country titles. State championships have eluded him thus far, but this may finally be his year.
Cole Miller, Bishop Kelly: The future Boise State football walk-on returns gunning for his third straight 4A state title in the triple jump. He remains a threat to rack up points and even titles in the 100, relays and long jump, too.
Patrick Monahan, Bishop Kelly: The Penn commit set 4A district meet records in the long jump (22-1.5), triple jump (45-5.5) and high jump (6-6.25) before winning the state high jump crown. He’s back to defend all those titles and add more to his mantle.
Trevion Walker, Caldwell: The defending 4A state runner-up in the 100 and 200 returns seeking those elusive gold medals. He owns a host of Division I offers, including from Weber State, Idaho State, Southern Utah, Lehigh and West Virginia.
Ethan Hammer, Columbia: The senior pole vaulter has medaled twice at state, including a 4A runner-up finish last year. But his marks of 14-6 and 14-7.25 during the indoor season make him the favorite to finally capture that title.
Caleb Washington, Ridgevue: The Utah Valley commit saw his junior season cut short. But he took third at state in the triple jump as a sophomore, and he enters as a threat to climb to the top of the podium with a personal best of 45-3.25.
Ayden Martinez, Skyview: He made an impressive debut at the 5A state meet last year, finishing third in the 100 at 10.87 seconds. He drops to 4A, where he and Walker will battle it out all year for district and state titles.
Marcus Jones, Fruitland: The reigning district champ and state runner-up is the top returning discus thrower at the 3A level. He’s also a threat to contend for a title in the shot put.
Luke Barinaga, Fruitland: He was the fifth-place finisher in the long jump at the 3A state meet last year. But the top four finishers all graduated, and he set a school record with a jump of 22-6.5 in his first meet this year.
Javid Blewett, Parma: He recorded the fastest 100 time (11.64) for an Idaho middle schooler last year, a time that would have left him outside the 3A state championship heat by .01 seconds. Look for a breakout year from the freshman.
Braden Ankeny, Marsing: He captured second place in the 200 and third in the 400 at the 2A state meet last year as a sophomore. Now that he’s a year older, stronger and more determined, expect him to slide up the medal stand.
McKoy Richardson, Melba: The Idaho State commit already has six state championships under his belt, including a 4-for-4 performance in the 400, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4x400 last year. The only question remains what he will specialize in this year. “(He) could be a state champ in about eight events,” Nampa Christian coach Eric Lacy wrote.
Ian Stockett, Victory Charter: The two-time 1A state cross country champ swept the 1,600 and 3,200 titles as a sophomore. But he finished second last year to Grace’s Cole Wilkerson. Both return for their senior seasons and another battle.
Brody Backus, Idaho City: The three-sport athlete impressed as a junior, finishing second at the 1A state meet in the discus (153-2) and seventh in the shot put (43-7.5). He enters as the heavy state favorite in the discus, and will contend in the shot as well.
Carter Woodland, Notus: A hamstring injury derailed his bid to repeat as the 1A state triple jump champ last spring. But now that he’s back to full strength, look for him to contend for gold medals in the 100 and long jump, too.
Koby Rivas, Meadows Valley: The senior and Northwest Nazarene commit cleared 6-2 in the jump at last year’s 1A state meet, but he finished second on attempts to Rockland’s Teague Matthews. Both return expected to duel for gold again.
TOP GIRLS TO WATCH
Allie Bruce, Boise: Already a four-time district champ and a six-time state placer, the junior returns to lead Boise’s long distance runners as a multi-event threat. She’ll chase her first individual track state title after winning a cross country title two years ago and finishing second last fall.
Sophia Clark, Boise: She often got lost on a stacked Boise team as a sophomore last year. But look for the junior multisport athlete to step into the spotlight after sixth-place finishes in both the 100 and 200.
Lydia Nance, Boise: The Idaho signee racked up loads of points for the Brave at state last year, finishing third in the 400 while running legs of two championship relay teams and a second-place relay team. Look for more of the same from the versatile senior.
Sammy Smith, Boise: An injury derailed her sophomore season after winning four gold medals and the all-class Gatorade athlete of the year award in both track and cross country as a freshman. She’s currently in Europe on the World Cup ski tour. But the national-level soccer player becomes a contender the second she returns and steps onto the track.
Suzi Woodall, Boise: The pole vaulter returns for her senior season after finishing third at district and second at state. The Eastern Washington commit and Centennial’s Eva Lowder will continue to battle for local and state supremacy.
Millie Bledsoe, Borah: The Point Loma commit has twice taken third place at state, including in the 100 hurdles last year and the long jump in 2021. The senior will try to turn bronze into gold this year.
Asia Lawyer, Centennial: The Boise State soccer signee has two second-place state finishes in the 100 under her belt. The reigning district champ guns for the elusive gold medal, but she’ll have to get past Rigby’s Abby Hancock, the returning state champ.
Eva Lowder, Centennial: The Washington State commit set an all-class state meet record in the pole vault at 13-9 last season, using a borrowed pole for the 11th best vault in the nation. She returns for an encore performance.
Marion Packer, Meridian: The Utah State commit is working her way back from a torn ACL, which has limited her training. If she can get back up to strength by the time the state meet rolls around, the three-time state placer remains a threat for more medals in the middle distances.
Rilyn Stevens, Mountain View: The reigning district cross country champ returns to the track looking for her first title there. She finished second at district and third at state in the 3,200 a year ago as a sophomore.
Danika Hartman, Nampa: The Northwest Nazarene commit took third at the 4A state meet in the triple and long jump in 2021, then unleashed a long jump of 19-7 that summer that would have set the all-class state meet record. A torn hamstring knocked her out of the postseason last year. Look for her to make up for lost time.
Brighton Heywood, Rocky Mountain: Already a six-time state placer, the junior middle and long distance specialist provides the Grizzlies with lots of flexibility. She already owns the state’s second-best 800 time behind Bruce.
Lauren McCall, Timberline: Her true calling remains on the basketball court, where she’s signed with San Diego. But the senior captured four state gold medals last year, including individual 400 (56.0) and 300 hurdle (44.11) titles.
Avery Navest, Timberline: A sprinter who keyed the Wolves’ state champion 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams, the junior added the shot put to her repertoire. Her season-opening throw of 37-7 would have finished second at state last year.
Ashlyn Sandow, Timberline: The Montana soccer commit broke out at the 5A state meet last year, winning the triple jump title (36-6), finishing second in the long jump (17-6) and earning a medal in the 4x400 relay. The junior has plenty of time left to add to that haul.
Adie Wimer, Columbia: The Idaho signee has three district titles under her belt, but she’s yet to win a state championship. She’ll seek to change that after two second-place medals (400, medley) and a third-place finish (200) last year.
Tatum Richards, Emmett: The Montana State commit set the all-class state meet record in the pole vault as a sophomore, then broke it last year at 13-0, only to have Lowder beat it later that day. The senior gets one more chance to take that record back.
Isis Villafane, Ridgevue: She rallied in the final 100 meters to win the 4A 400 state title last spring, and she led the Warhawks to a come-from-behind championship in the medley relay. Her state-winning 400 time (56.13) was the second-fastest time across all classifications last spring.
Lydia Lindsey, Fruitland: The then-freshman made a splash at last year’s 3A state meet with three titles, including wins in the 100 (12.52), 200 (25.92) and 4x100 relay (49.94). She also took second in the high jump (5-4). Two more members of that state championship relay team return alongside her.
Kylie Quinton, Weiser: The senior brought home four medals from state last year, including a gold medal in the 4x400, a silver in the 800 and bronzes in the 1,600 and medley relay. And with the state champ in the 800 and 1,600 graduated, expect her to start racking up more golds.
Mattie Shirts, Weiser: The future College of Idaho runner also earned four state medals for the Wolverines a year ago. Those include a second-place finish in the 400 to a now graduated senior, and a fourth-place finish in the triple jump.
Kendall Clark, Melba: She led the Mustangs to state volleyball and basketball titles earlier this year. Before she joins her sisters on the Northwest Nazarene basketball team, she’ll wrap up her career on the oval looking to add her previous two titles (triple jump, 4x200) there.
Meya Young, Melba: The senior remains a multi-event threat. She’s already won three state titles: the 100 (12.86) and 4x200 (1:46.23) last year, and the long jump championship (17-4.25) in 2021. More are surely on the way.
Paiton Mills, Nampa Christian: A hamstring injury forced her to miss much of the 2022 season, but she still finished second at state in the 100 and 400, and third in the 200. An impressive winter season has her dialed in for a big senior year.
Anna Dixon, Greenleaf: She announced herself as a freshman last year, capturing the 1A 1,600 title (5:25.11) and finishing second in the 800 (2:20.89). The sophomore returns as one of the favorites in both events.
The top athletes to watch from each team that responded to the Idaho Statesman’s preseason survey.
Boise: Seth Nelson, sr.; Allie Bruce, jr.; Sophia Clark, jr.; Suzi Woodall, sr.; Sammy Smith, jr.
Borah: Millie Bledsoe, sr.; Maddie Romberg, sr.; Jevon Nelson, jr.; Henry Hill, sr.; Parker Rushton, sr.
Capital: Victor Byaundaombe, jr.; Hazija Mberwa, sr.; Eden Francis, fr.; Waylon Legler, fr.
Centennial: Eva Lowder, sr.; Asia Lawyer, sr.; Jacob Webster, sr.; Bryson Blaser, jr.
Eagle: AJ Ringert, jr.
Kuna: Jay Monroe, jr.; Micah Teague, sr.; Myles Johnson-Nicholson, so.; Braden Grant, sr.; Kody Biggs, sr.; Avery Quigley, sr.
Meridian: Nate Stadtlander, so.; Ryker Kendall, sr.; Chance Detwiler, sr.; Paisley Taylor, so.; Aubrey Kohler, sr.; Presley Berger, sr.
Nampa: Danika Hartman, sr.; Katie Jones, sr.; Josh Peterson, jr.; Tegon Lords, so.; Courage Seable, sr.; Enrique Soto, sr.
Owyhee: Brayden Bowen, sr.; Liv Mortensen, jr.; Faith Johnson, so.; Josie Davis, so.
Rocky Mountain: Tyler Sainsbury, sr.; Landon Heemeyer, jr.; Brighton Heywood, jr.
Timberline: Lauren McCall, sr.; Ashlyn Sandow, jr.; Avery Navest, jr.; Tylee Smith, jr.; Ellie Lewis, jr.; Alex Lowe, sr.
Bishop Kelly: Cole Miller, sr.; Patrick Monahan, sr.; Noah Bornes, sr.; Rakeem Johnson, jr.; Drew Martin, sr.
Caldwell: Trevion Walker, sr.
Columbia: Adie Wimer, sr.; Ethan Hammer, sr.; Bryson Knapp, sr.; Kaitlyn Lundergan, jr.; Lily Farris, so.
Emmett: Tatum Richards, sr.; Hunter Enick, sr.
Ridgevue: Caleb Washington, sr.; Augustas Haynes, sr.; Isis Villafane, sr.
Skyview: Ayden Martinez, jr.; Melissa Eyer, jr.; Brielle Bowman, sr.; Abi Krzemien, jr.
Vallivue: Sam Fish, sr.;
Fruitland: Lydia Lindsey, so.; Luke Barinaga, sr.; Caleb Davis, sr.; Ambri Hart, sr.; Marcus Jones, sr.; Aleksi Drollinger, so.
McCall-Donnelly: Lillian Warner, so.; Mimi Marshall, jr.; George Speirs, jr.; Jack McManus, sr.; Van Vinson, jr.
Parma: Cami Cullen, sr.; Lilly Houston, so.; Javid Blewett, fr.; Riley Sorrell, sr.; Travis Stockett, jr.
Weiser: Kylie Quinton, sr.; Mattie Shirts, sr.; Kailee Lerew, so.; Brayden Walker, sr.
Marsing: Emily Vanosdall, sr.; Braden Ankeny, jr.
Melba: McKoy Richardson, sr.; Kendall Clark, sr.; Meya Young, sr.
Nampa Christian: Paiton Mills, sr.
New Plymouth: Alex Porter, sr.; Hiatt Beus, sr.; Gabe Cox, so.
North Star Charter: Connor O’Brien, sr.; Bailey Hynes, so.; Everett Metier, so.; Chloe Ballhagen, jr.
Cascade: Cole Wilkins, sr.; Kallyn Rogers, jr.; Kyler Nitzel, sr.
Centennial Baptist: Braedon Cornwall, sr.; Kayla Hiner-Landis, jr.; Zeke Hayek, jr.; Cameron Tilzey, so.
Council: Jaxon Thomas, jr.; Hope Zollman, jr.; Dani Zielinski, jr.; Dahlton Bingham, jr.; Macen Glenn, sr.; Porter McLinn, sr.
Idaho City: Brody Backus, sr.; Ruari Mulrey, jr.; Mary Plumlee, jr.; Selena Exon, jr.
Liberty Charter: Kawika Schlenker, jr.; Phillip Crust, sr.; Casey Collom, sr.; Savanna Schaffer, sr.; Nicky Neagu, jr.; Bella Fien, jr.
Meadows Valley: Koby Rivas, sr.
Notus: Carter Woodland, sr.; Tristan Aspiazu, sr.; Eli Hill, sr.; Connor Stafford, sr.; Easton St. Germain, jr.; Sherlyn Rueda, sr.
Rimrock: Aden Aquiso, sr.; Ashten Moore, jr.; Loyd Boren, jr.
Salmon River: Cordell Bovey, jr.
Tri-Valley: Maren Hansen, sr.; Claytin Harper, jr.
Victory Charter: Ian Stockett, sr.; Luke Stockett, jr.; Connor Robbins, sr.; Fikadu Ewing, sr.; Maia Mattox, jr.