Wild Western Weekend

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Jay Shuman outleans Max Gilbertson for the win in the 60 hurdles at 8.10. All photos by Daniel Russell.

With high school track season right around the corner participation at the final few indoor meets have seen increased participation. Last week at the Kadet Fieldhouse nearly 1000 athletes shook off the winter rust in hopes of starting the spring season off on a positive note. The same logic would follow suit just over Monarch pass at the Western State High School Indoor Open, as participation in the meet doubled since the meet began last winter to commemorate the Mountaineers new indoor facilities.

The athletes who made the trip over the pass were thoroughly rewarded as competition from all over the state poured into Gunnison and left some blistering times in their wake.

After a slight delay before the hurdles, Zoe Gilbertson started her morning off by torching the field in the 60m hurdle prelim and finals to the tune of 8.53 and a national #9 ranking. Her brother, Max Gilbertson, had much stiffer competition as he squared off head-to-head with Palisade's Jay Shuman, in what we can only assume will be a tight race all season for the crown of Colorado's top hurdler. The race won't be a two horse show if Alex Miller and a few other hurdlers have anything to say about it. In the end Shuman ended up taking home the victory in this round with a fast 8.10, but with 90+ days until state I am sure that we will see that lead change once or twice.

The indoor steeplechase is an event that is not run very often, but make sure to watch when it is to see how distance runners turn into hurdlers overnight. In this years edition, Greta Van Calcar made the trip south to take on Broomfield's Katelyn Mitchem and several other challengers from the Front Range.

Mitchem led for the majority of the race until Van Calcar made her move in the final lap. Van Calcar might have become a little gun shy during the race as she fell twice over the barriers yet still found the resilience to claw back into the race for the title. In the end, Mitchem's steady pace and technique gave her the lead at the line stopping the clock at 6:03.54, out leaning Van Calcar's 6:03.71.

On the boys side Liam Cox lead wire-to-wire finishing in 5:10.68.

The girls 60m dash final was quite the race as Gilbertson dueled with Elizabeth's Tegan Alexander and Palmer Ridge's Megan Harvey. The trio finished nearly shoulder to shoulder as Alexander took home the crown in 7.73 just .01 in front of Gilbertson and .09 in front of Harvey.

The race was just as tight on the boys side as Broomfield's Jordan Xiong squared off against Lutheran's Chris Youngs. Xiong won the preliminary round, but both came out firing on all cylinders with Youngs taking home the crown to the tune of 6.73 which currently places him as the second fastest 60m runner in the country. Xiong was not far behind stopping the clock at 6.79 and taking home the #7 ranking in the country. Colorado currently is home to three of the fastest 60m runners in the country with Javan Lanier coming in tied for 8th. The only other state with as many top ten 60m sprinters on the boys side is North Carolina.

The girls 800m did not disappoint as Air Academy's Lilliana Hamilton dueled Salida's Taryn Ceglowski to the finish. In the end it all came down to a lean with Ceglowski getting the advantage in this round in 2:26.65. Hamilton came in at a very close second at 2:26.81. On the boys side Palmer Ridge's Andrew Lester went all out to bring Colorado it's first sub 2:00 800 of the season. At the end of the race Lester narrowly missed his goal stopping the clock at 2:00.11. With times like that at 7,700 feet of elevation around eight turns one can only imagine what they have in store for the spring up on Monument Hill.

Gilbertson brought home another title in the girls 200m at 26.29, while Xiong dropped his season best and Colorado #4 time of 22.42. Paxton Smith battled the elevation in the 3200 and finished at 10:21.83.

In the field events Cedaredge's Kenzie Henderson appears to be in midseason form jumping 16-9.25 and 5-1 to win both events. Henderson and Paonia's Brianna Van Vleet appear as if the competiton never ended, picking things up right where they left off last season. The 2A jumps could be an area that could create a lot of buzz this season. Breaking up the two was Palmer Ridge new comer Caroline Giusti who popped a 16-6.5 on her final attempt in the competition. Giusti added nearly six inches to her jump from last week and could mix things up come May to score the Bears some points. Salida's Gallian Roberts found new lengths in the long jump pit as he added nearly a foot to his previous best mark claiming the boys title with a jump of 21-4.25. Parker Joens of Platte Valley had another successful week tossing the shot over 50 feet for the second week in a row. Emily Clawson of Paonia would not let Joens have all of the fun, as she easily won the women's shot title with a toss of 35-2.

When the dust cleared at the Mountaineer Field House new records were set, nationally ranked marks were tallied, and most everyone was satisfied with the results. If this meet has shown us anything it is that outdoor track season will start with a bang, and it is going to be a big one.

Meet Results and Photos