Pine Bluffs shines in 2A State Track’s field events

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 12:01 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - A strong year for Pine Bluffs’ athletic program continued in track, as the school picked up more accolades at the 2A State Outdoor Track meet. Four athletes took first place, with the Hornets showing that the field events could continue to be a strong suit for years to come.

Alyssa Slade, 2A Girls High Jump State Champion

Alyssa continued to build on her success in the state meet, winning her second straight high jump state title. After winning with a 5′ jump as a Sophomore, she increased her tally to 5′4″ as a Junior. She also got to the state meet with a strong year in her short-distance running. She placed fourth in the 200 meter dash, and seventh in the 100 meter dash this year.

Alyssa mentioned feeling pressure going into her Junior year, but that seemed to fade once the trip to Casper came around.

“It was probably the most calm I’ve been, just because I was really prepared with like getting my shin splits in control. I just had a lot of focus on high jump, so it wasn’t as stressful as previous years.”

Jessica Hoffman, 2A Girls Discus State Champion

Jessica put on a a strong showing for her Sophomore season. She found herself competing in three different events, taking fourth in high jump, and sixth in shot put. While those finishes are impressive, it was her performance in discus that made her a champion.

She threw for 117 feet, which was 8′5″ more than second place in this year’s event.

While it would be easy to enjoy her victory, Jessica focused on needing to get right back to work in order to become a champion yet again next season.

“I’m going to have to come back stronger because I know everyone else is going to get stronger, and just do more of me than I did this year.”

Stuart Lerwick, 2A Boys Triple Jump State Champion

The 2022-2023 sports season was a special one for many athletes at Pine Bluffs, and Stu is certainly a name on that list. Their football team and boys basketball team both came away with state championships. Once the final day of the outdoor track season rolled around, Lerwick added another accomplishment on his way out of PBHS.

He took first in in the triple jump event with a final jump of 43′8.25″. He also took third in the long jump, third in shot put, and ninth in discus.

Stu spoke about the year he had, and that he might be one of very few athletes to be a triple champion in one school year.

“I’m not sure how many athletes in the state of Wyoming have ever gotten three state championships in one year. I was trying to look it up, but there’s really not a list for that kind of thing. It was just pretty fun to end it the way I did and just ended on a good jump, so that’s cool.”

Mitchell Birkhofer, 2A Boys Shot Put State Champion

Three of Pine Bluffs’ four state champions were underclassmen. Both Alyssa Slade and Jessica Hoffman achieved that on the girls side. Mitchell completes that list, as his throw of 46′10″ gave him a slight edge in a very competitive field. He also took a top five spot in discus with a throw of 127′6″.

Mitchell will likely be stepping into a leadership role next season, and he’s already began to push himself and his teammates towards improvement for next year.

“It makes me feel confident going into next year. It also makes me feel like we need to work harder more because we’re losing those seniors, but it feels good.”