Blanding meet recap and a chat with the new San Juan track coach

The San Juan High School track & field teams hosted their only home meet of the year on the San Juan High School track this past Friday, April 9.

The “San Juan County Championships” brought teams from Carbon, Manti, Monticello, and Grand County high schools to Blanding for some rousing competition on a beautiful Blanding afternoon.

The San Juan boys scored 97 points to finish in fourth, the girls got 52 points to finish third, and the teams combined got a fourth-place result with 149 points.

Individually, there were too many strong performances by Bronco athletes to list here, so we’ll focus on top-ten finishes. For a full list of results, visit

Landon Black led the boys with a third-place finish in the 100-meter dash in 11.92. Reo Fox finished eighth with a 12.28.

In the 200, Black finished second with a run of 24.98. Fox crossed the line in sixth with a 26.06, Seth Spackman got seventh in 26.27, and Brigham Nielson came home eighth in 26.62.

Shae Nielson won the girls 200-meter with a 27.36. She also won the 100-meter hurdles in 16.10. Leah Castellon got fifth in that event with a 18.55, Abby Jacobson finished ninth in 19.11, and Alex Shumway rounded out the top ten with a 19.14.

Daniel Jolley got fifth place in the boys 110-meter hurdles with a time of 20.75. He also scored a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles with a 49.85. Brigham Nielson got second in that event with a 47.22.

The Broncos had five runners finish in the top nine in the girls 300-meter hurdles with Shae Nielson in first (51.72), Alex Shumway in third (55.69), Lea Castellon in fourth (56.78), Abby Jacobson in eighth (59.22), and Ella Lyman in ninth (1:01.37).

Conner Black was the lone top-ten finisher for San Juan in the boys 800-meter. He came home seventh with a time of 2:25.98. Lydia Pugh finished ninth in the girls 1600-meter with a 7:00.89.

And in the longest speed event, the 3200-meter, the Broncos got one top-ten result when Ella Lyman came home eighth with a time of 14:26.25.

In the field events, Tyler Winn and Jensen Grover tied for fourth place in the boys high jump when they both cleared 5-04.

In the long jump, Magnum Nielson got fourth place with a 20-02 jump, Tyler Winn finished sixth with a 18-07.50, and Zach Palmer picked up a ninth-place result with a 17-05. Abby Jacobson finished in tenth for the girls with a jump of 13-08.

Daniel Williams was good for ninth place in the shot put with a 35-05 and Ethan Shumway got tenth with a 34-07. Shumway had the third-longest discus throw of the day at 100-09 and Williams got a 96-02 for fifth place.

Three San Juan boys javelin throwers finished in the top ten on the day. Magnum Nielson was second with an impressive 140-00, Tyler Winn got seventh with a 122-03, and Ethan Shumway was eighth with a 116-07.

Maycee Conway finished in tenth place in the girls javelin with a nice throw of 63-06.

The Bronco boys won the 4x100 relay with a time of 47.06 and the sprint medley with a 4:06.44. The girls finished fourth in the sprint medley with a 5:30.08.

After their strong performance at home, the team is next in action this Saturday, April 17 when they head to Vernal for the 2021 Uintah Invitational at Uintah High School.

A couple weeks ago we talked with new San Juan track and field head coach Samantha Pemberton. Though we’re over halfway through the season, she had many good things to say, and we wanted to feature her interview here.

Pemberton grew up in Blanding and has spent most of her life there. A San Juan High School graduate, she competed for the Bronco track and field team.

She attended the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana on a Track and Field scholarship. For the last two years she has been the throwing coach for the San Juan track and field team.

Q: Coach Pemberton, what can you tell us about your 2021 track and field team?

A: I’m excited for several kids on my 2021 team. We had a lot of kids come out for their first year and have so far been able to compete and earn some points these last few weeks. We are also a pretty decent sized team. We have 48 athletes on our roster, some of them being dual sports.

Q: What have you seen in the first meets of the year?

A: The first meet of the year was in Moab and despite the awful weather we had quite a few kids place.

Q: What strengths do you have?

A: I don’t know if you mean what strengths do I have as a coach or the team so I’ll answer both!

I feel like my strength as a coach is that I know and love this sport. I did it for eight years of my life and in college it was a year-round sport, so I have a huge passion for it.

As a team I think our biggest strength is my coaching staff. I have some awesome coaches who have been doing it for a while and really know how to push these kids.

Q: What areas will you need to work on?

A: I would say my biggest weakness or something I am working on as a coach is learning how to connect with so many different personalities. As a team, I feel that coming off a COVID year it’s a little difficult to find the motivation in some of the kids.

Q: What is your approach during practice / coaching philosophy?

A: Track is definitely a tricky sport to coach. We have so many kids, so many different events and techniques to track and so many different personalities. So we’ve found that it’s easier to put our effort into the kids who put their effort into the sport.

We unfortunately get a lot of kids who do it for the coed aspect or because they don’t want to get a job and those kids are a little bit harder to coach.

We still help those kids and coach them of course, but it does make it easier to stay an hour after practice to help the kid who is super passionate about their events.

Q: Have any athletes made great strides in the last year? Who has impressed you so far?

A: We have a few awesome athletes this year. Shae Nielson has already qualified in two of her events. She also placed in the top three every meet. She is definitely one of the top hurdlers in 3A.

Matt Saunders has also been a great contender this year. He competed in track a little bit his freshmen year but then he came out as a senior.

This year and has blown people away with his talent. He does javelin, high and long jump, and is now on our 4x1 team.

He has placed in multiple events the last two meets. He is typically the first one to practice and the last one to leave and then will go home and YouTube techniques.

Junior Landon Black has also been one to get us points. He is a football player but his quickness definitely shows on the track.

Q: What goals do you have for the season? Regardless of what happens on the score sheet, what do you feel would be a successful year?

A: My goals this year and also I would feel would be a successful year is to get a lot of these kids to state. I also just want to make it a fun year for them, especially my seniors since they didn’t get a season last year.

We have started a thing that we call “Funday Fridays.” Every Friday we do an activity like volleyball or kickball. This gets the whole team together to bond a little more.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

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