May 13—Running in Casper is never easy. That fact was abundantly clear Friday at the Class 4A West Regional track & field meet as athletes battled 30 mile per hour winds, with gusts reaching 50 mph.
Kate Brigham, however, took it all in stride. Competing in the 800-meter run, the Jackson senior ran at the front of the pack for the first lap before pulling away in the final 200 meters for the win. Brigham wasn't sure of her official time, which she believed was, "somewhere around 2:16 or 2:17." Given the conditions, Brigham was more intent on helping fellow Jackson runner Jacie Chatham than she was about her own time.
"I was trying to help out a teammate get a sub-2:20," Brigham said, "but obviously conditions weren't in our favor today, so actually I'm happy with my time."
Brigham ran the 800 in 2 minutes, 11.99 seconds earlier this season — the fastest time in the state — and will enter next week's Wyoming State High School Track & Field Championships at Kelly Walsh's Harry Geldien Stadium as the favorite to defend her title. Her time of 4:53.41 in the 1600, in which she is also the Class 4A defending champ, is also the state's best.
"I always like running the mile," Brigham said, "but this year I've surprised myself in the 800. I've never done anything longer than the two-mile in track, I think because I've always thought of myself as a mid-distance specialist."
It's hard to argue with the results.
As a freshman in 2019, Brigham finished second in the 800 and helped the Broncs win the 4x800 relay. After the 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, she returned with a vengeance last year to win individual gold in the 800 and 1600 and team gold in the 4x800 and the 1600 sprint medley relays.
The sprint medley team set a state record with a time of 4:11.53. Brigham, who runs the anchor leg on both relays, believes the Broncs can break that mark next weekend. She also has her sights set on setting state marks in the 800 and 1600, both of which are within reach.
"The state record in either the 800 or the mile would be amazing," Brigham admitted, "I'm not too picky about which one. And if I could get both that would be awesome.
"Obviously in Casper you never know what the conditions are going to be, so who knows. But to get a state record to finish my high school career would be amazing."
Truth be told, though, setting the state mark in the 800 — Cody's Stacy Slight set the standard in 2006 with a 2:10.93 — would have a little more significance for Brigham because former Jackson standout Anna Gibson holds the state record in the mile with a time of 4:48.14 in 2017.
"If I don't get the mile record I know it's still in Jackson," Brigham said. "And Anna has been a great role model for me over the years. Without what Anna did for our program I definitely wouldn't be running the times that I am now."
Like Gibson before her, Brigham has excelled in multiple sports for the Broncs.
In cross country, she was a three-time all-state selection and was the 2021 Wyoming Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year after setting a course record at Ethete at the state meet in October. Brigham also won five state Nordic skiing titles during her four-year career.
"I feel like it's really important for me to get that base in during the cross country season," she admitted. "I think it helps me in the 800 and the mile. And coming from elevation I always feel like I've had some sort of edge in my competition, especially when I go down to the sea-level meets."
Brigham will continue to run at elevation in college after signing to run cross country and track at the University of Colorado.
Before then, though, is the state meet. Brigham's illustrious four-year career competing for Jackson is coming to an end, which still hasn't sunk in yet. But she knows the time is coming.
"I think it's definitely going to hit me when state is over," she said. "That's going to be my last time being a Bronc and that's kind of sad. But I think so far this has been my favorite season."
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @wyovarsity
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