Kelly Walsh's Joey Czellecz, center, leaps over a hurdle for the win in the boys 110 meter hurdles April 26 2013 during the track classic held at Kelly Walsh high school in Casper. (Leah Millis/Star-Tribune)
Joey Czellecz was too amped to run the 110-meter high hurdles final at the Class 4A West Regional track and field meet.
The Kelly Walsh junior -- who entered the final with the top seed time of 14.67 seconds -- hit the first hurdle, stumbled and gutted out an eighth-place finish.
"I was really stoked and just got out too fast and hit that first hurdle," Czellecz said.
Czellecz did bounce back with a regional title in the 300 intermediate hurdles, but he said he has extra motivation for his second chance at high hurdles when the Wyoming State High School Track and Field Championships begin on Thursday at KW's Harry Geldien Stadium.
And the Trojans are looking forward to their collective second chance and a chase at history. Natrona County edged Kelly Walsh for the regional team title in a heavyweight fight -- Casper athletes/relays collected 15 of the 17 regional titles ("It was punch, counter-punch," KW coach Mark Hileman said).
Despite a few "hiccups along the way," Hileman was pleased with the overall regional performance. Getting those big-meet jitters out of the way were important.
"Sometimes, it takes the pressure off because it happened," Hileman said.
But Natrona had an impressive showing, en route to sixth consecutive regional team title. A big effort in the shot put clinched the team title, and the Mustangs sprint group also put in work. NC sent 11 sprinters total to the state meet in the three sprint events.
Mustangs coach Rosie Brown said NC benefited from KW's miscues.
"We may not be as fortunate this week -- we hope we are -- but there's no guarantees there," Brown said.
KW and NC figure to battle for the state team title again this weekend. East Regional champion Gillette will factor into the final standings, but track fans could very well see another KW-NC punch-for-punch finish on the meet's final day.
NC junior Robert Counts said the crosstown battle makes for a more exciting meet, as the Mustangs sprinters will try to duplicate their regional performances.
"Hopefully, try to do what we can and improve our times," Counts said.
But the Trojans weren't defeated -- or satisfied -- after the regional meet. Hileman, a Kelly Walsh graduate himself who was a member of the Trojans 1981-82 state track championship teams, has been preaching to his athletes that they have the chance to "do something that hasn't been done around here in a long time."
Kelly Walsh last won a boys state track title in 1985.
"They got more in them," Hileman said. "That's the cool thing about it. They weren't spent, it wasn't like 'OK, we're done.'"
And that's why Brown considers KW the favorite.
"If they're perfect, they're pretty unbeatable," Brown said. "And I think they know that, too.
"We have to be perfect. They just have to be good."