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Cottonwood Heights Journal

New staff excited to take reins of Brighton track team

May 08, 2018 03:21PM ● By Jana Klopsch

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

It doesn’t matter what sport or what level of competition you’re talking about — stepping into the role of a new coach isn’t easy.

Still, Brighton track and field coach Kirk Merhish is pleased with the effort and mindset his athletes have displayed so far this season. Merhish took over the program this season, though he is no stranger to work with high school students in different forms of athletics.

In track and field, like other sports, team success comes largely from the number of participants. Smaller teams can struggle to be competitive because the more athletes you have, the better chance you have of scoring team points and qualifying multiple team members for postseason meets.

Though he acknowledges the team has some work to do in some events, such as the 4x100 relay, he is optimistic about some of the hurdlers on the girls team.

“As a first-year coach, I am excited about the number of kids we have out participating on both the boys and girls teams,” he said. “We have several female young hurdlers who I believe will develop into state contenders in a matter of time.”

A few other standouts for the Bengals include Jaeger Bostwick, who has medalled in two invitationals this season. Merhish called him an “exceptional” long-jumper. Laura Lundahl leads the girls team. She’s a state contender in the 400 and 800 dash. She has already qualified for state in the 400 with a time of 59.37 seconds.

Merhish doesn’t have any complex goals for his team. He and his assistants simply want to have a good presence at the state meet.

“We want to get as many students as possible to state and to give them opportunities,” he said.

Not only does Merhish see talent and increasing numbers on his squad, but he’s also impressed with the athletes’ attitudes and efforts. Some team members spend time in the winter getting ready for the season.

“The staff is enjoying the work ethic of this year’s team,” he said. “We have numerous athletes who spent months in the winter training with boys coach Knute Rockne.”

Region 7 features some deep and skilled teams. Corner Canyon is strong in distance events, and Jordan, Alta, Timpview and Cottonwood also pose challenges. Merhish believes the Bengals can contend with these other squads, especially if the boys and girls can score points in multiple events. He’s eager to see what his athletes can do in the discus, where promising sophomore Riley Ballard continues to open coaches’ eyes with his improvement.

Once the regular season comes to a close, Brighton will compete in the Region 7 meet. The Class 5A meet will be held May 17–18 at Brigham Young University.