Behind the lines…You don’t need a stamp for this version….Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    They used to have an asterisk next to record-setting times and distances that were achieved on windy days. Today, we’re much more advanced, they list the wind speed at the time of the event if it’s above a certain parameter.

    Well, we don’t do it in Wyoming. How could you? When is there ever a time when the wind doesn’t blow in Casper? Even calm days can seem like hurricanes to people unfamiliar with Wyoming’s blustery reputation.


    They even sing songs about it. Hal Ketchum’s hit, “Mama Know the Highway by Heart,” has this telling line, “She can tell Wyoming by the wind.” No offense to Hal’s memory, but who can’t?

    With a half-century of experience with state track meets, and the last 43 at Harry Geldien Stadium at Kelly Walsh in Casper, the wind has always been a companion.

    If you add wind to the U.S. Postal Service’s motto, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” you’ve got a good description of state track in Casper.

    Sure, there were days when it didn’t blow as hard as it did in typhoon-like weather last Friday. There was the 1983 track meet held under torrential rains, with workers using giant squeegees and brooms to sweep the water off the corners during the 200, 400, and 300-meter hurdles races.


    There was 2004 when it rained on Thursday, snowed on Friday, and then the clouds parted, and we had superb weather on Saturday.

    There were many other years when the pole vault was moved indoors because the wind kept blowing the crossbar off the standards.

    In 1982, another wet year, my Lusk high jumper Bill Graves was the best in the state, clearing 6-5 several times during the regular season. The old jumping pit was a small section of asphalt on the north end of the field and Bill had a long approach.


    He was used to starting on grass and moving to asphalt before his J cut, but this time the grass was in ankle-deep water. Bill only cleared 5-10 that day, VanNorman of Midwest won the event at 6-0, Bill was second.

    I still have images of Wyoming Indian’s Charlene Brown and Riverton’s Krysta Stingley disappearing in the 3200-meter run as heavy sheets of snow dumped on the track in 2017.

    One year it was regional track that had the big snowstorm hit. The WHSAA moved all the regional meets from a two-day competition to just a single day on Monday. That made a short week for the kids and messed up the training schedule for the distance runners.


    No matter the conditions, we’ve always gotten the state meet off in very unpredictable mid-May weather.

    Last Friday was interesting. With winds hitting 50 miles per hour the times in the 100 and 200-meter dashes were amazing, none more so than Big Horn senior Gavin Stafford who posted two all-time, all-class records in the sprints.

    He ran a blistering 10.31 in the 100-meter dash prelims on Friday during the gale and added a 200 in perhaps a more amazing time of 21.16. Those are times on the cusp of Olympic qualifying standards, unheard of in Wyoming.

    Lest you make the claim it was all the wind, Stafford ran 10.58 and 21.30 on Saturday during calm conditions.

    As I watched the Big Horn sprinters go 1-2-3-4-5 in the 100-meter dash I was standing next to three throwers from Big Horn near the finish line. They were big kids and I asked one of them how it was blocking for a backfield with that kind of speed.

    The big guy grinned and said, “It’s awesome, lock your guy up for about a second and that’s it, they’re gone.”

    It was hard for me to believe that Torrington had edged Big Horn last November in Laramie for the Class 2-A state football championship 28-26.

    Was the wind a factor? Sure it was, every boy and girl in the 100 and 200-meter dash, every single one, posted a faster time on Friday during the high winds than they had brought from their respective regional track meets. On Saturday, none of them matched what they’d accomplished in the prelims.

    Does that lessen Stafford’s impact? Not in the least. In Wyoming, we compete in the wind. The kids run in snow, rain, and cold that would cancel track meets in almost every other state than Montana and the Dakotas. We do it at higher altitudes as well.

    It’s a fact of life. The long and triple jump competition had excellent distances as well since only the north pits, with the wind at the kid’s backs were used.

    One aspect of the reorganization of the facilities at Kelly Walsh has lowered distances in one event.

    When the discus ring faced Southwest toward Casper Mountain, the prevailing wind blew directly into the thrower’s face. Those who don’t understand the event think this is an impediment, but the opposite is true. If a thrower can tilt the discus at the right angle, it will soar with the oncoming wind, lifting to a higher height and going much further as it aerodynamically rides the wind.

    Now that the ring is facing Southeast, the wind blows across the ring, rather than into it and the distances have been short every year since the facility was changed.

    Another detriment to the sport of track and field, this one for the spectator was the removal of the pole vault facilities from in front of the grandstands to an isolated area with limited seating behind the trees on the opposite side of the field.

    The pole vault is one of the favorite viewing venues in any meet, and it has been largely removed from the state track meet with this new design.

    A final note on facilities and working with the WHSAA comes in decisions made by the Natrona County Board of Trustees.

    I’ll make it simple.

    Why do you have school in session on the Friday of the state track meet at Kelly Walsh? We all know you have many, perhaps dozens of open Fridays for staff development throughout the year. Why not have one on the Friday of the state track meet? Did you somehow collectively miss the memo?

    The parking is excruciating. I’ve discovered my favorite spots and the time to get to them years ago, but many fans don’t know the secret. Nope, I’m not giving it out either.

    Homes within three blocks of the stadium put cones and those friendly, “No Parking You will be Towed” signs in front of their houses.

    The Natrona School District jumped in this year and threatened to tow any vehicle without a Kelly Walsh parking permit on Friday. Gee, thanks for the support guys.

    Saturday was no issue. The biggest crowds are always during the finals on Saturday and without the 2100 kids and 300 or so staff members on campus, there was ample parking and access for everyone.

    It’s such a simple solution, but those are the hardest to reach when someone has an agenda.

    No matter the local axes being ground, I love the state track meet and I plan to attend as long as I can.


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