Herders sprint by competition 

Gunlikson, Baker and Mosness help SGHS excel in first track and field meet of 2018
Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld, Pioneer Editor

Casey Gunlikson (second from right) leads the fast heat of runners in the 100-meter dash March 29 at the Snowflake Meet in Columbus. Gunlikson won the event in 11.30 seconds (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer).

COLUMBUS — The Snowflake Meet stayed true to its nomenclature, peppering powder on athletes in the early runnings of events. But the precipitation didn’t hinder the success of a handful of SGHS competitors March 29. 

As a team, the Herders were fifth out of 22 teams, taking home 52 points and finishing just a point back of fourth-place Joliet. Townsend won the meet with 79 points. 

Senior Nathan Baker got his day started off by winning the discus event, tossing 140 feet, 6 inches. His throw was good enough to win by more than 16 feet. But what made this throw so notable was it automatically qualified him for the state meet in May — from his first competition of the year.

“It feels good. It sets the bar a little bit higher,” Baker said. “You put it in the first meet, and everybody expects you to keep going from there. I was expecting to PR, but I didn’t expect to qualify for state. I’m pretty excited I qualified.”

PHOTO: The best shots from last week's track meet in Columbus

Baker’s next task might be just as difficult as qualifying for the state meet. He said sometimes when an athlete steps into the throwing circle, his or her biggest competition can be themselves. 

“We always have those days, so it’s something you deal with,” Baker said. “That’s the thing about track…it’s mostly individual. So, you keep your composure and it’s extremely mental. If you get into the ring, and your head’s not right, it can mess with your throws. It’s definitely a very big mental game.”

His throw of 140-6 shattered his previous best and what he had at the state meet last year (126 feet). His first winning-throw of this year at the Snowflake Meet would have actually been good enough for sixth at state last year and third among returning throwers. 

Baker eventually followed up his discus title with a third-place finish in the shot put (43-4.25) and a fifth-place throw in the javelin (135-10).

Junior Casey Gunlikson had no issues with weather, and he blasted through the sprint events, winning both the 100-meter dash and the 200, with times of 11.30 seconds and 23.14, respectively.

Gunlikson is a state-returning for the Herders, who finished second in the 100 and sixth in the 200 in Laurel last year. His 100 time this season ties his state runner-up time a year ago.

The sprinter is challenging himself to head back to state in five events this year. He hit the two qualifying marks for the shortest races, and now he’s ready to hone in on hurdles and jumps.

“Now I can focus on my steps in hurdles, and jumps,” Gunlikson said. “I didn’t have the best day in jumps, but that’s OK. Now I can focus on that now.”

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