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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Multisport athletes bring talent to Brighton track and field

Apr 08, 2024 11:36AM ● By Annie Selander

Carter Summers. (Photo David Edmunds)

The Brighton Bengals officially began their preparation and hard work for the 2024 track and field season the first week of January with a preseason training camp. However, many track and field athletes have been preparing all year as numerous multisport athletes including members of football, girls’ soccer, cross country and basketball teams bring their talents together to compete in one of the 18 events in high school track and field.

“Track and field is the perfect place for multisport athletes. Their hard work in football, basketball, soccer and more will pay off in any number of events in track and field,” head coach Kirk Merhish said. “Many of our athletes will be continuing athletic careers in college.”

Senior Analena Jacob is currently signed to play soccer next fall for Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida. She returns to the track to make her mark in the middle-distance events of the 400m and 800m.

Senior Hope Edmunds has battled her way back from an injury that sidelined her last season to secure a spot on the cross country and track team at Anderson University in South Carolina.

“Hope has shown what hard work, perseverance and a winning attitude can accomplish. We are thrilled to watch her continue to develop and race in college. The sky is the limit for her,” distance coach Tara Summers said.

After throwing his way into a Division 1 scholarship on the gridiron as Brighton’s quarterback, senior Jack Johnson has his sights set on a Region 6 title in the javelin. In his first season with Bengals track and field, he is showing potential to be the top thrower in the region and be in the mix for a medal at the state championships in May. Johnson will be joining the football team at Georgetown University this fall. “I wanted to try something new before I leave for college,” Johnson said, “and to help prepare myself physically for college football. I also just love being a part of a team, and I love to see growth in myself and my teammates.”

Seniors Vance Langston and Carter Summers are leading the boys' distance team. Langston qualified for state in the first meet of the season in both the 3200m and the 1600m with times of 9:18 and 4:17, respectively. Then he crushed his own time just two weeks later at the Pineview Invitational in St. George with a time of 9:06 in the 3200m. Summers will be racing the clock this weekend seeking qualifying times in the 1600 and 3200.

Both runners are actively talking with college coaches in hopes of continuing their running careers at the collegiate level.

Summers has had the unique experience of being coached by his mother, Tara Summers.

“It has been so rewarding coaching Carter the past four years!” coach Summers said about her son. “He brings such a fun spirit to practice, yet leads by example of hard work and dedication. Carter will be missed.”

Notables to watch include senior Griffin Seal as a contender for region and state in the 110m high hurdles as well as senior Johanna Mapson. Mapson is a 2023 state qualifier in the 100m hurdles, the 4x100m relay and the 4x200m relay. She has been captain of the girls’ volleyball team and is ready to take on her senior track season with equal leadership.

“Johanna is one of those athletes that is a privilege to coach. She is an all-around asset to our team; her positive attitude is infectious, and she sets an example for younger athletes as the hurdle team captain,” hurdle coach Jenni Hancey-Larson said.

Senior Kate Garrett is a 2023 Region 6 champ in the javelin and state qualifier in javelin and discus. She is poised to outperform last year’s accomplishments and be in the mix for a state medal.

Bengals juniors represent hard work in the examples of Beau LeFleur, Mason Haertel and Jake Farnsworth. 

LeFleur and Haertel of the Bengals football team running backs duo, rushed their team into the quarterfinals last season. Haertel is leading the boys’ sprints team as captain.

LeFleur is a favorite to win the 110m hurdles in the Region 6 championship and be a top contender at the state championship. He is already running a state qualifying time in the 110m high hurdles of 14.7. He also qualified in the 300m hurdles with a time of 39.11, 2.21 seconds faster than the state qualifying standard of 41.32, landing him as the No. 1 seed in 5A.

“We have a depth to our team that few high schools in the region have,” head coach Merhish said. “Our distance runners have been out-working and out-performing the competition. We have strong athletes in the hurdles, sprinters, throwers and jumpers. Our program is representative of the broader talent present at Brighton High School in all sports programs.” 

Editor’s note: Annie Selander is a sprint coach with the Brighton track and field team. λ