The final reward: Herder boys highlight state, finish fourth in 2A

Eddie Poe photo
Tucker Bopp turns his head toward the competition in the 200-meter preliminaries. He took home first in finals with a time of 23.08.

Eddie Poe

Like any team, the Glenrock Herders began the track and field season with the end goal of winning a state championship.
With that came a season of hard work and dedication, along with perseverance and the ability to push one another. The Herders may not have finished at the top of the podium during last weekend’s state championship, but they left with a notable reward.
“To go out and compete and finish in the top five and be in the same discussion with some of the best competitors in 2A, it’s a nice reward and a pat on the back,” junior long-distance runner Zane Moore said.
Competing through inclement weather during the course of three days, Glenrock’s boys team finished fourth out of 17 2A teams.
Following a third place finish at regionals the week prior, the mentality was simple for the Herders heading into state: put everything on the line for one final meet.
“There’s definitely some great teams in 2A such as Lovell and Big Horn that can put up big numbers,” Moore said. “We just went in with the mentality of ‘don’t hold back … go out and compete and push yourself past your boundaries.’”
Throughout the course of the season, Glenrock did just that. As time passed, it became clearer that with every meet, the Herders were significantly improving.
During the four meets prior to regionals in Torrington, the boys team finished top three in each of them. It was evident then they were working toward something of more importance.

Moore initially felt that he ran a good race in the 1600 at regionals, but he settled for fifth.
At state this past weekend, he found himself feeling the same way. Except this time, fourth place tasted much, much sweeter.
“I was really proud and impressed by my performance,” he said. “I started out strong and felt good. I was running smooth, my form was solid … so I felt like I could keep up with that top pack.”
Moore stuck with the top three runners from the first 100-meters until the very end. In the process, he shaved off five seconds from his personal best mark that he set at regionals.
He even shocked himself. In a long-distance event such as the 1600, a five second difference goes hardly unnoticed. For Moore and his long-distance counterparts, season improvements can be credited to a new distance coach.
“It was a new system with coach Kumpula this year,” Moore said. “He puts his whole heart into everything he does, especially coaching.”
A new system not only helped to create change for Glenrock’s distance runners, but it gave preparation a new sense of purpose.
“There’s lots of days where you could walk by his office and he’s in there reading an article about running or watching a video about form or different drills that we can do to improve ourselves. . . the effort he put into us, made it even easier for us to put effort into our own training,” Moore said.

It was the first time senior Brock Jones had competed at the state championships.
Despite unfair elements and a less than favorable showing in the discus throw on Thursday, Jones wasn’t phased when he returned for the shot put competition on Friday.
“I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked to (in discus),” Jones said. “Since I threw on Thursday though, that’s kind of where all of my nerves went.”
Feeling more at ease on Friday, Jones set a new personal best in the shot put with a distance of 47 feet, 2 inches, claiming second in all of 2A.
“I threw with the top four guys during the last three meets of the season, so I kind’ve knew what I was going up against,” Jones said. “I went in thinking that I could definitely place top eight, but taking second definitely surprised me.”
On a team where many of the members compete with each other in another sport, it’s not uncommon for drive to take place internally. In fact, it’s what sets great teams apart from good ones.
The Herders were never a team to shy away from pushing one another.
“We’re a team filled with athletes that are constantly pushing each other and themselves to be better,” Moore said. “When you have kids like Tucker Bopp who you can run next to and put yourself up against in practice, it makes you that much better.”
It’s evident there are numerous factors that allowed the purple and white to succeed this season.
But if there’s one thing that stood out more than the rest, it was the competition within the competition.
“Challenging each other in practice. . . I know for a fact that it made a huge difference in my performance and for my teammates as well,” Moore said.

Along with top contributions from Moore and Jones, Tucker Bopp finished just 0.01 seconds short of three trips to the top of the podium.
The electrifying Bopp took first in the 200 and 400 by comfortable margins and fell just short of a hat trick in the 100. He also helped the 1600 sprint medley team (Patrick Bruno, Payton Steinmetz and Moore) finish second with a time of 3:44.08.
For the Lady Herders, Brock’s twin sister, Mikalah, followed up her first place spot at regionals with her own trip to the top of the podium. She outlasted the competition in the discus throw, heaving a winning toss of 118 feet, 6 inches, surpassing her personal best mark set at regionals.


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