GOODING • Joe Parke’s decision to “come out of retirement” is paying immediate dividends.
The Carey basketball and football star decided to not compete in track and field in 2016 due to a plethora of other commitments. Between school and a job, defending his second-place finish at state in the high jump wasn’t a priority.
But after some badgering from his coaches, Parke threw his hat back in the ring. And on Wednesday afternoon at the Barry Espil Meet it was clear he hadn’t lost a step.
The senior easily cleared 6-foot-2 inches, two inches higher than his second-place jump at state a year ago. He attempted to break the school record of 6-foot-4.25 inches but was unable to do so. By that point, however, Parke was competing against himself; the next closest jumper cleared 5-foot-8.
“I came out of retirement, I guess. This is my first meet. I’ve been practicing,” Parke said with a laugh. “The last one felt good. I just clipped it.”
Fifteen different schools competed at Wednesday’s Barry Espil Meet at the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind. Bliss, Camas County, Carey, Castleford, Community School, Dietrich, Glenns Ferry, Hagerman, Hansen, Idaho School for Deaf and Blind, Lighthouse Christian, Murtaugh, Raft River, Richfield and Shoshone all sent athletes to the annual track meet.
Raft River took first place in both the boys and girls team competitions with scores of 135.5 and 106, respectively. Murtaugh and Castleford finished in second and third on the boys side while Carey and Shoshone took the honors for the girls.
The Trojans won 11 events total, two of those coming by way of Marcie Williams in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles. The senior was locked in a tight race with Carey’s Medin Cenarrusa in the 100 hurdles until the very end. Williams wound up winning and setting a personal best time of 17.4 in the process.
“Normally when you’re neck and neck with someone, you have to be pretty precise on your footing, and I took out a couple steps. So I was a little nervous that she was going to get me,” Williams said. “I’m a competitive runner. So I need someone to kind of push me to be a better runner. If not, I have harder time coming through and winning.”
Raft River also won the boys 200-meter (Austin Montoya), 300-meter hurdles (Luke Gilbert), the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays, the shot put and discus (Karson Zollinger), the pole vault (Wacey Holtman). On the girls side the Trojans took the top spot in the pole vault (Dani Cambell) in addition to Williams’ pair of wins.
Castleford’s Benjen Lilly took first-place in the 3,200-meter run, beating the next closest runner by more than a minute. Lilly also took second-place in the 1,600-meter run and third in the 800.
“It’s definitely hard. The whole time, when it’s a long race like this, all you see is the track the whole time,” Lilly said after his 3,200-meter victory. “(You’re thinking) ‘When’s it going to end?’”
Lighthouse Christian’s Eric Silva won the 100 and 400-meter dashes on the boys side. Community School’s Henry Raff won the 800 and 1,600-meter runs while Nik Roussos from Camas County won the 110-meter hurdles. Glenn Ferry’s Erick Ballesteros won both the triple and long jumps while Castleford took the top-spot in the boys medley relay.
On the girls side Camas County’s Laken Wolf (100; triple jump) and Keely Wolf (800;1,600), Carey’s Lindsey Morey (200), Glenns Ferry’s Sage Wootan (400) and Shoshone’s 4x400 team all wound up victorious. Carey also won the 4x100, 4x200 and medley relays.
Castleford’s Jade Etelu took first in the shot put while Hagerman’s Samantha McCrorey won the discus. Lighthouse Christian’s Gracie Cover wound up winning the high-jump with a mark of 4-foot-8 inches and Shoshone’s Rionna Kerner won the long-jump with a leap of 15-feet-5.5 inches.
The 3,200-meter run on the girls side was an interesting experience for eventual victor Ava Mazzoni from Community School. It was Mazzoni’s first time ever running the event and she was neck-and-neck with teammate Annika Landis for much of the race.
But by the end of the event Mazzoni had notched a somewhat unexpected 16-second win over Landis. Despite some initial hesitations, the senior looked like a natural.
“Most of the time I’m a 1,600 and 800 kind of person. But my coach said ‘Why not give it a shot?’ I found out last Friday and it took me (until today) to mentally prepare. I definitely wasn’t happy about it considering our season is so short,” she said with a smile. “But, like I said, my coach knows exactly what he’s doing.”