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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton track and field stars chase down region titles

Jun 02, 2023 09:38AM ● By Jerry S. Christensen

Brighton is both king and queen of the track this season. On May 10 and 11, Brighton High School track and field teams earned the right to hoist both the boys and the girls region championship trophies. 

“These teams led by seniors Lia Belle Selander, Bridger Ballstaedt and Dylan Olsen are the culmination of the last few years building the program. It feels good to finally be at the top of Region 6," head coach Kirk Merhish said.

The Brighton teams battled through a tough spring as the weather kept the track covered in snow until mid-April. Workouts took place indoors for half of the season. Brighton’s indoor tracks and state-of-the-art field house were just what was needed to help qualify teams at the region championship meet and to advance to the state competition. Only the top four athletes in each region event compete in the state competition. 

Senior Emma Young said, “I’m so excited to have qualified for state. This season has been tough with the weather and to have won region is a wonderful breakthrough.” The Bengals produced several individual region championships in the distance, throwing and hurdling events. 

1600 meter: Senior Lia Belle Selander defended her 2022 1600 meter region title coming in first with a time of 5:14. Senior Emma Young brought home the silver with a time of 5:16, and Analena Jacobs rounded out the state qualifiers with a fourth-place finish and a time of 5:18.

3200 meter: The Brighton girls had three athletes in the top five. Lia Belle Selander first place with a time of 11:26, junior Avery Parry qualified for state in fourth place with a time of 11:36, and junior Mesia Evans scored points for the Bengals in fifth place with a time of 11:37.

800 meter: Emma Young finished third with a time of 2:21.24 and junior Vance Langston made it to state with a fourth-place finish and a time of 2:00.

Langston was also region champion in the 1600 meter with a time of 4:25. And junior Carter Summers was second in the 3200 meter with a time of 9:59 followed closely by senior Brock Norseth in fifth place with a time of 10:04.

The Brighton hurdle team showed well for the Bengals scoring valuable points toward the championship. 

110 meter hurdles:

Second place senior Bridger Ballstaedt, 15.70

Third place sophomore Beau LaFleur, 15.77

Fourth place junior Griffin Seal, 16.04

Fifth place sophomore Tanner Robinson 16.15

300 meter hurdles:

First place region champion Bridger Ballstaedt, 39.84

Fourth place Beau LaFleur, 42.76

Fifth place Griffin Seal, 43.40

Girls third place freshman Olivia Stephens, 48.38

More Bengal champions emerged in the field events. 


Girls region champion Kate Garrett 90-03

Boys third place senior Dylan Olsen, 137-11

Shot put:

Girls region champion Audrey Kessinger, 32-01

Boys region champion Dylan Olsen, 46-06.50


Girls third place Audrey Kessinger, 86-05

Girls fourth place Kate Garrett, 86-00

Boys region champion Dylan Olsen, 133-08

Sprints: Boys 100 meter open fourth place senior Kace Gurr qualified with a time of 11.37.

 For the first time in many years, all of the boys and girls relay teams qualified for state. 

-Girls 4x100m fourth-place finish Kalli Olsen, Sophie Thorup, Johanna Mapson and Sienna Christensen.

-Boys 4x100 third-place finish Bridger Ballstaedt, Kace Gurr, Dane Mehrish and Mason Haertel.

-Girls 4x200m third-place finish Blair Waldbillig, Olivia Stephens, Kalli Olsen and Ali Marler.

-Boys 4x200m third-place finish Kace Gurr, Mason Haertel, Zane Wong and Dane Merhish.

-Girls 4x800m pre-qualified by time. 

-Boys 4x800m fourth-place finish Jonathan Fowles, Austin Langston, Zac Ingles, Ethan Bryan, Ethan Ilizialiturri, Cruz Hazen.

-Girls 4x400m fourth-place finish Olivia Stephens, Blair Waldbillig, Emma Young and Analena Jacobs.

-Boys 4x400m fourth-place finish Sena Amevor, Jake Farnsworth, Ethan Bryan, Zac Ingles (a thrilling .04 second win over fifth-place Skyline)

All results can be viewed on

Academic All-State athletes include Zane Wong, Alida Marler and Blair Waldbillig. Wong was prequalified for state in 110 meter hurdles and the 4x100 meter relay. He pulled a hamstring running the 300 meter hurdles trial which ended his hopes for state.

Three Brighton Bengals will be continuing their running careers in college. Lia Belle Selander accepted an offer from Southern Utah University and will join the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams. 

“I’m excited to continue running at SUU. I’m grateful for coach Tara and Sarah and my cross country coaches who have trained me and taught me how to run,” Selander said. 

Brock Norseth will be running for the University of Redlands in Redlands, California (cross country and track). Dane Merhish signed a football scholarship with Black Hills State University. 

The 2023 season was a family affair with several coaches having their children on the team: 

head coach Kirk Merhish and his son, senior Dane Merhish; sprints coach Annie Selander and her daughter, senior Lia Belle Selander; distance coach Tara Summers and her son, junior Carter Summers; and throws coach Josh Huber and his son, freshman Marshall Huber (three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and track).

Coach Annie Selander summarized the year. “As coaches we want to see every athlete reach their potential, do better than they did the day before and learn the important lessons that sports can teach: perseverance, endurance, sportsmanship, respect, hard work, teamwork, goal setting and dealing with setbacks and adversity in productive ways. We have learned these lessons together in abundance. This season our team has had injuries, illnesses, and surgeries to recover from. The weather brought chaos to the schedule with canceled competitions and last minute added meets. Winning these region championship is a sweet victory that feels very hard earned over months of hard work and perseverance.” λ