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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton track and field has large team, optimism to match

Apr 15, 2019 10:18AM ● By Josh McFadden

Brighton’s Drew Hysong (wearing orange in starting position), shown here at a race last season, will be one of the Bengals’ track and field team leaders this year. (Photo courtesy of Kirk Merhish)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

Though snow continues to fall off and on, the spring high school sports season has begun. 

This means athletes are getting outdoors once again after some long winter months indoors. The Brighton track and field team is eager to compete and improve on its showing from a year ago. The 2019 Bengals bring nine athletes that competed at state last season, so Assistant Coach Kirk Merhish thinks even bigger things are in store for the boys and girls. 

“Our expectations are high,” he said. “We expect to compete at a high level.”

The competition will be stiff, as it usually is, but one thing going in Brighton’s favor is the fact it has better depth and higher numbers than it has had in the past. There are 130 members participating on this year’s squad, including a host of newcomers to bolster the returning athletes. This is good news in a sport where the more athletes you have competing in the events, the better chance you have of accumulating points. 

With so many new faces and a team full of eager competitors, Merhish acknowledged that he’s still working with other coaches to sort out who’ll be the major driving forces for the Bengals and who’ll step up in different events. 

Merhish said one of the best attributes the team has going for it is the boys’ and girls’ attitudes and work ethic. He doesn’t worry much about the team’s eagerness and willingness to put forth the required effort.

“Everybody brings their hard hat and lunch,” he said. “Everybody is ready to go to every practice.”

Merhish highlighted a handful of his senior leaders, including Laura Lundahl, Riley Ballard, Paige Sieverts, Drew Hysong, Jaeger Bostwick, Conner Critchlow and Bailey Brant. Lundahl will race in the 400 and 800, while Ballard is one of the top discus throwers on the team. Sieverts competes in the mile and two-mile runs. Hysong will be busy this season. He not only sprints in the 100 and 200, but he also excels in the long jump. Bostwick competes in the same events as Hysong and is capable of leaping 20 feet in the long jump. Critchlow and Brant are talented hurdlers, with Brant also competing in the 200. 

Keep an eye on Becca Urban and Anabell Keaton as well. Urban is another skilled hurdler, while Keaton, a junior, will participate on Brighton’s sprint relay teams. 

Merhish has lofty goals of winning region and state, which would be a significant jump for the Bengals. He has a simple formula for continued improvement and success.

“We need to run faster and jump higher and longer,” he said.

Merhish said he and his athletes are excited to be back out on the field and the track. The thrill of competition and hard work is driving everyone to put together a strong season. 

The Bengals will compete in several meets and tournaments. The Class 5A state meet will take place May 16 and 18 at Brigham Young University.