2019 Banana Belt Classic: Chasing The Wind

Jaydes Warwick just may have made a hurdles name for himself with two big wins on the opening day of competition.

As places in Colorado go, Pueblo is generally a good bet for decent March weather. Today's temperature was fine, but the wind was not. Even the wind could have been worse, though, as just across town at CSU-Pueblo wind conditions were much worse at the CSU-Pueblo Early Bird.

That probably has a whole lot to do with the comparatively protected layout of Dutch Clark Stadium vs. the Pueblo West Stadium and the fact the the town of Pueblo affords a little protection from winds largely out of the north that Pueblo West doesn't enjoy at the far west end of town.

With nearly 20 teams assembled for the meet, there were some clear highlights for the day. There were also, however, evidences aplenty that not much of anybody is in mid season shape yet and practices to date have been a bit spotty with weather conditions having been all over the map the last two months. In short, almost everybody could use more, and more consistent, work right now.

One athlete evidently unencumbered by all the weather variability, however, is Pueblo East's Luc Andrada. Andrada ran a wind-aided 10.67 to win the 100, then came back later in the day to run a wind-legal 21.68 to win the 200.

Nobody was close, in either case.

TCA's Katie Flaherty left a statement in the 1600. Flaherty led the first three laps with Elizabeth's Ashten Loeks in her hip pocket. Loeks took the lead entering the fourth lap, but couldn't shake Flaherty's presence. Up the back straight they went, with Loeks breaking the wind this time and Flaherty tucked in behind. Early in the turn, Flaherty retook the lead and stretched her lead to four seconds before all was done.

Loeks was hardly done for the day, however. She would come back to win the 300 hurdles in 46.46 and anchor the winning Elizabeth 4x400 relay.

Mason Norman soloed a 9:48 winner in the 3200. Fresh off an SAT test in the morning, Norman was more about just getting in a solid eight laps of work than blowing anything apart. Still, his time almost guarantees him on spot of the starting line at state.

Palmer Ridge's Jaydes Warwick served notice that he will be one to watch in the hurdle events. Warwick won the 110s in 15.55 (-2.3), then came back later to win the 300s in 41.84. In a day when everything suffered a little, in some form or fashion, from the wind, Warwick's marks stood out.

Fountain-Fort Carson won all three boys sprint relays. Times don't stand out that much right now, but the Trojans definitely have things on the right track early in the season. No surprise there, of course.

Andrew Smith of Pueblo South had a very respectable, and wind legal, 43-1 in the triple jump to win that event. For his efforts, he collected a second in the long jump as well. 

Lane Walter of Crowley County went deep to the tune of 160-11 to win the discus. Figure that mark has state meet implications should Walter be in need of those come May.

In girls events, Allyssa Romero of Alamosa took a win in the 400, then another in the 200. Neither time was spectacular but both were plenty good enough to stand as convincing winds. There will be days when Romero runs faster, be sure of that.

Teammate Mary Streeter won the 100 hurdles in 16-flat, but the wind was just a bit too high for that mark to stand in the rankings.

Palmer Ridge's Grace Gulig won the triple jump with a mark of 34-11. That may serve to put Gulig on a new radar screen or two.

TCA's Kristina Willis began the process of staking out some of her own territory in the pole vault with an 11-6 win in the event. It's now her turn to fan the Willis pole vault flame at TCA.

And, in the shot put, Pueblo East will definitely be heard from this spring. Shannon Vivoda took the win at 37-0.75, while Harlie Medrano went a close second at 36-10.25. Those kind of marks won't win state, but they'll definitely put Vivoda and Medrano in the hunt. It will definitely get interesting from here.

It's hard to say exactly what team standings mean at a meet like this, but if they do mean something then Discovery Canyon is already established as a team to watch. The Thunder left the meet with both team titles.


Note: The original version of this article mistakenly had the second Pueblo meet of the weekend located at CSU-Pueblo rather than Pueblo West High School.