May 14, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterWyoming Indian's venerable track coach, Chico Her Many Horses, often brings cultural and historical images to his runners.
If a WIHS Chief is on the track, particularly in a race longer than 400 meters, it's a familiar sight to watch him run across the infield from the starting line to the 200-meter mark as his runners progress through a race. It's both an inspirational and humorous image as the ageless coach, braids flying, runs back and forth calling out splits and encouragement.
Two weeks agoChico's son Keegan walked past me toward the staging area for the 1,6000-meter run at the Bobcat Twilight in Thermopolis. He had splashed himself with water prior to the race, a tradition for many runners.
Chico trotted by and stopped for a second with a wide grin on his face.
"He asked for water in Lakota instead of Arapaho," Chico shouted. "It's going to be a good race."
Usually he says, "neck" when asking for water in the Arapaho the language, but that afternoon it was "mini," the Sioux word for water.
Traditions run deep in track and field.
Cross country coaches in Class 1-A and 2-A should thank Cokeville football coach Todd Dayton for running the best program in Wyoming. If it weren't for football, the Panthers would be a dominant power in cross country.
Cokeville put on an impressive showing Friday in the 800-meter run, as the blaze orange uniforms of the Panthers finished first through sixth in the event. You're only allowed to enter four runners per event, but if others have met the qualifying standard you can add as many who've met the mark as possible.
The Panthers threatened to sweep the 1,600-meter run as well, but Little Snake River's Connor Lee had different ideas. As Lee and the six Cokeville runners came down the backstretch on the final lap of the race, two Cokeville runners sprinted ahead of Lee, two closed to the outside, and the other two closed in on his heels.
Track fans would quickly recognize the classic "boxing in" move used by teams to hold back a faster runner. Lee realized what was going on and jumped suddenly from lane one to lane four, sliding between the two outside runners. Lee sprinted ahead of the first two Cokeville runners and held off a late challenge by Jonathan Fiscus to edge the Panthers' top runner by six-hundredths of a second to win the regional title.
Accustomed to winning
Regional titles are commonplace to Rachelle Leseberg. Track fans may remember a tiny 12-year old qualifying for the national championships in the high jump six years ago. Leseberg has grown up to become the dominant female athlete among the state's smaller schools and one of the best ever to take to the track from Fremont County.
Best wishes for a sweep at state in the 100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump later this week.
Wind River often is referred to as "hurdle high," and this year Jesse Hawk, Dylan Lookingbill and Shepp Campbell have all qualified for the "big dance."
But another school has quietly emerged as a hurdle factory as well.
Dubois coach David Trembly gets much of the credit for Hawk's outstanding season at Wind River since the senior transferred from Dubois just a few months ago. The Rams have their own bevy of talented hurdlers in Sterling Baker, Rowan Hawk and Leseberg.
Look for a lot of points in the 100, 110 and 300-meter hurdles this weekend for the Rams.
Styles come and go but the mohawk haircuts sported by the Wind River boys made a statement his weekend and Coach Dirk Gosnell's boys are poised for a final run at favored Lovell.
A final traditional story goes to Keegan Her Many Horses again. He is the seventh of seven sons and has emerged as a top runner in his sophomore year. Keegan is an avid reader and historian, much like his father and recently finished a book on the life of Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse placed two pieces of grass in his hair after seeing a vision of a prairie dog doing the same thing.
Keegan decided to try it, and you could see the bright specks of green in his long blond braid as he ran his best time of the season in placing second behind Spoonhunter in the 800-meter run.
Have a great state meet, everyone.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.