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It runs in the family

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Submitted photo Pictured from left: Landon Scalise, Bradley Ekstrom, Bridger Norton and Taven Young take a bite out of their gold medals after winning it all in the 4x200 Meter Relay at the Simplot Games in Idaho in February. Landon is the son of 2003 Newcastle High School graduate Carla (Lunney) Dittus, one of the top basketball players in Lady Dogie history.
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Talent runs in families, and a new generation of Dogie legacies are making their mark on Wyoming athletics. Although they don’t compete for Newcastle, at least one of their parents is a former Dogie who paved the way for their success.

The Simplot Games are North America’s premier indoor high school track and field event. The 44th annual games were held in Pocatello, Idaho, on Feb. 15-17 at Idaho State University’s ICCA Dome.

The Olympic-style games were first held in 1979 and more than 2,000 elite athletes from 19 states, Canada and Australia were on hand to compete this year.

Among those elite athletes were three children of former standout Dogie athletes. The apples didn’t fall far from their familial trees as they each executed stellar performances to finish very well in their respective events at the games.


Landon Scalise and Carla (Lunney) Dittus

Landon Scalise is a senior at Thunder Basin High School and is a standout athlete in his own right in both track and field and football. Landon is the son of 2003 Newcastle High School graduate Carla (Lunney) Dittus who stands in the archives as one of the top basketball players in Lady Dogie history.

This was Landon’s second year competing at the Simplot Games. In order to have the opportunity to run at the games, Landon had to prove he had what it takes to be successful on that international stage.

“At my school we have qualifying standards you have to meet in order to go,” Landon began. “For the relays, you have to qualify in an individual event, and I did the 55 and 200 meter dashes, which allowed me to run in the 4x2 and the 200 leg of the sprint medley relay.”

There were 51 teams who were vying for a spot in the finals of the 4x200 meter relay. To get there, they had to finish in the top 12. In the prelims, the team of Scalise, Bridger Norton, Taven Young, and Bradley Ekstrom, all of Thunder Basin, crossed the finish line in second place with a time of 1:34.01, which advanced them to the second heat of the finals.

In the finals, great hand-offs
and fleet feet carried the team over the finish line in first place in 1:31.86, thereby allowing the four runners to hoist the championship trophy. Landon ran the second leg of the relay where his split in the finals was a 23.02, and the team’s finish was .30 of a second in front of the number two team from Idaho.

“Going into the race, we had a pretty confident mind-set,” Landon said. “The race was pretty tight all the way through the third leg when our closest competitor made a mistake in their hand-off. It was neck-and-neck with three teams until we came around the last corner, but our fourth leg just took off and we won!”

“I so wish I could have been there, but even watching it on video, it was so exciting,” Carla said. “When the race was over, my husband and I couldn’t believe that they won!”

Landon also ran the second leg of the sprint medley relay, which advanced from the prelims to the finals where they finished ninth with a time of 3:45.67.

Finally, Landon ran in the open 60 meter dash. He just missed out on making the finals as he finished 21st out of 118 runners with a time of 7.36 seconds. Unfortunately for Landon, only the top 18 finishers advanced to finals.

“Competing at the games is a very surreal experience,” Landon said. “There’s so many teams that you just would never imagine competing against, and there are some really fast kids there, and it’s just pretty cool to get to experience that level of competition.”

Several Thunder Basin school records were broken by Scalise and the other Bolts. The 4x2 relay team broke the school record, and Landon also broke the school record in the 60 meter dash.

“I think the overall experience of getting to participate in the Simplot Games is great for the kids,” Carla said. “It’s awesome that the kids represented Gillette and Wyoming so well, and I’m just really proud of Landon and the
other kids.”

The Wyoming Indoor State Track Meet took place March 1 and 2 in Gillette, where Scalise continued to excel. There he placed third in the open 55 meter dash and finished with a personal best time of 6.65 seconds, which also broke the school record for that event. The 4x200 meter relay team won their race with a time that broke the state record, however, they were disqualified for cutting into a zone. The sting may have been mitigated when the team was invited to go to Nationals March 15-17 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Landon is also talented on the gridiron and has been invited to play wide receiver at the 2024 Shrine Bowl this summer.

Future plans are a little up in the air at the moment, however, Landon has determined that he will be attending Black Hills State University where he has been offered a scholarship to play wide receiver for the Yellow Jackets football team.

“I have also talked with the track coaches, and I could run for them as well,” he said. “I haven’t quite decided what I want to do, or if I want to do both.”

Carla grew up playing sports and participated in basketball, volleyball and track when in middle school. In high school, she continued with basketball and volleyball and it was on the hoops court where she left her mark.

Carla played varsity basketball from the time she was a freshman, and through her four years as a Lady Dogie she played in 67 varsity games and was a member of the 1,000 point club, racking up 1,051 points — an average of 15.68 points per game.

She won Most Valuable Player, the Highest Field Goal % award, Most Rebounds, and Most Points scored for the Lady Dogies. Her career high was 31 points in a game.

As both a junior and a senior, Carla was awarded All-Conference and All-State basketball honors and she finished her career in 2003 as the second in all-time scoring for the Lady Dogies, and was fourth in the state at the time. She was the second leading rebounder for Newcastle and was third in the state, and in steals was third for the Lady Dogies and fourth in the state.

Finally, Carla was selected for, and played in, the All Star Game the summer following her senior year.

She was no slouch in volleyball either. She was an honorable mention to the All-Conference team as a sophomore, made the All-Conference team as a junior, and as a senior was both an All-Conference and All-State honoree.

Grace and Adam Miller

Grace Miller is a sophomore at Thunder Basin and has followed in her father’s footsteps in track and field. Adam Miller graduated from NHS in 2001 and left his mark in both swimming/diving and track and field for the Dogies.

Like Scalise, Grace competed in the 60 meter dash, the 4x200 meter relay and ran the 200 meter leg of the sprint medley relay at the games.

In the prelims of the 60 meter dash, Grace won her heat by about five feet, clocking a time of 7.99 seconds. Overall, she ended up in 11th place, which advanced her to the finals. Though she improved her time to 7.92 in the finals, Grace dropped to 14th place overall.

In the 4x200 relay, 47 teams competed and only the top 12 would advance to finals. Miller led off the race and with Chloe Crabtree, Macie Selfors and Hannah Kurz claimed 10th place with a time of 1:50.30 in the prelims. In the culminating race, Thunder Basin improved their finish to eighth place and dropped nearly three seconds off their prelim time as they crossed the finish line in 1:47.52.

“I kind of thought that the fastest runner would anchor a relay, but they put Grace in the lead-off leg. She had one of the best splits she has ever run in the final where she ran it in the low 26-second range,” Adam Miller began. “The whole team was just dialed in for the finals. They had really good hand-offs, which is huge in a fast race like the 4x2.”

At the games, Grace broke the Thunder Basin school record in first the prelims of the 60 meter dash, then again in the finals of that race. The 4x2 relay team also broke a school record with their performance at the games.

“She was in awe of the other athletes at the games, but at the same time, she was running right with them, so that was pretty exciting,” Adam said. “When you race against such great competition and you win, that’s cool. Grace is talented and she has an inner drive to excel. It’s so fun to watch her run.”

This year at the Indoor State Track meet, which took place March 1 and 2 in Gillette, Grace finished in second place in the 55 meter dash with a time of 7.29 seconds and third place in the 200 meter dash with a time of 26.45 seconds. Grace also was part of the 4x200 meter relay team who won the event, but like the Thunder Basin boys team, the girls were also DQ’d after one of the runners went into another lane and tripped that runner right after a hand-off.

Grace comes by her drive to compete quite naturally, given her father Adam’s outstanding high school and collegiate athletic career. Adam, who competed from 1997-2001, was a three-time state champ in diving; he still holds the Wyoming 3A state record in diving which he established in 2001 by scoring 497.8 points. He was an All-State diver as a sophomore, a junior and a senior, and he was selected as an NISCA (National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches’ Association) High School All American his senior year in diving.

The state record was not actually Adam’s highest score of his career. At the conference meet two weeks before the state meet, Adam became the first diver in Wyoming history to score over 500 points in an 11 dive format, and he did it in only 10 dives as he missed one of the dives in his lineup. He had several top-six finishes in swimming as well, and went on to compete in diving at the University of Wyoming.

Adam was also a talented trackster, excelling in jumping and sprinting. He placed third at the state meet in the long jump in 2000 as a junior and was fourth in that event the following year. The Dogie Boys Team won regional track in 2000, and Adam was a member of the 4x100 relay team who won state in 2001 with a time of 44.93 seconds.

“I was also on the cross country team that won state in 1999, but I was only an alternate so I cannot really claim that one,” Adam said, grinning.

Tegen and Jack Seeds

Tegen Seeds is a senior at Douglas High School and is the son of 1993 NHS graduate Jack Seeds. Like his father, Tegen excels in both football and track and field.

At the games, Tegen qualified in 11th place for the finals of the shot put. In the finals, he put the shot 49 feet, 1.25 inches, which earned him 15th place.

He also qualified for the finals of the weight throw where he finished sixth overall with a 58-foot, 9.75-inch hurl.

The weight throw in indoor track and field competitions is much like the shot put in other competitions. Players swing the weight above their heads and launch it forward after building sufficient momentum. Furthermore, contestants must throw the ball within a 34.92° sector, or their throw does not count.

In track and field, Tegen finished third in the shot put last year at the state meet with a toss of 47 feet, 7.5 inches and was fourth in the discus with
a throw of 135 feet, 6 inches. As a sophomore, Tegen finished seventh in the shot at state with a 45-foot, 8-inch toss and ninth in the discus going 124 feet, 11 inches.

According to WyoPreps, Tegen is one of eight players who were offered preferred walk-on status for the Wyoming Cowboys football team for next season. As such, he is guaranteed a spot on the roster and could earn a scholarship in their second year.

Tegen was named to the All-State team as a defensive lineman in the fall, and was an All-Stater on the offensive line in 2022.

Jack participated in basketball, football and track in high school, and left his mark in the latter two sports. As a junior in 1992, Jack finished fifth in the state in the shot put with a 47-foot, 9.25-inch throw. As a senior in 1993 he was third in the shot put when he threw it 49 feet, 8 inches and he placed fifth in the discus with a 141-foot, 4-inch hurl. He was also an All-State linebacker in football in his senior season and went on to play football for the Yellow Jackets at Black Hills State University.


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