Western Slope Double Header

When Glenwood Springs hosts a meet, the Demons' girls usually have the relays under control. Photo by Alan Versaw.


In my simple little world, I wondered why there would be two meets scheduled on back-to-back days about 20 miles apart on the western slope. The western slope is roughly half the land area of Colorado, but schools are separated by great distances. It would make more sense, or so I imagined, to carefully plan the host sites of meets to minimize travel for attending schools on any given weekend.


It would appear that several (smaller) western slope schools have a different way for getting more bang for their travel buck. In essence, the Coal Ridge and Glenwood Springs Demon Invitationals served as a double header for the following schools: Grand Valley, Rifle, Meeker, Soroco, Eagle Valley, North Park,  Rangely, and Vail Christian. Outside of Rifle, none of these squads are big enough to require two meets to get all of their athletes into events.


Regardless, it added up to a big weekend of track and field in Garfield County. Big enough that even 5A programs Grand Junction and Fruita Monument joined in on the act.


At Coal Ridge on Friday, it was Grand Junction narrowly outpointing Rifle for the boys' title. Cedaredge had relatively less trouble taking home the girls' trophy.


Cedaredge, Grand Valley, and Hotchkiss each used Friday evening's opportunity to stack a girls relay and knock one out of the park. Figure that you'll be seeing Hotchkiss running the SMR8, Cedaredge running the 4x400, and Grand Valley running the 4x800 at the state meet. The times they posted won't be pushed off the leader boards before state.


The boys were not about to be outdone. Grand Junction (4x100) and Rifle (4x200, 4x400) stacked a couple of relays of their own to shave a little time off of their season-best marks. In case anyone wasn't figuring on them already, Rifle has definitely secured a couple of relay spots for next month's state meet with their times at Coal Ridge.


Also of note was a more or less solo 1:57.78 800 by Moffat County's Alfredo Lebron.


On Saturday, the Glenwood Springs Demon Invitational took center stage. For a few moments around 11 AM, however, it appeared as if the weather might upstage the events on the track. Elevated winds and spitting rain gave everyone a little pause, but conditions cleared into a glorious spring afternoon along Grand Avenue.


Conditions were still a bit blustery, however, when Montrose's Eric Shellhorn posted what may have been the best mark of the day. Hometown favorite Andrew Mansfield put up a fight for the better part of two laps, but Shellhorn crushed the field on the last two laps en route to a 4:28.89 win in the 1600. Shellhorn's opening 800 at just over 2:12 took the other contenders, including Mansfield and Hayden's Chris Zirkle, out of contention.


As we have grown accustomed to seeing, the Glenwood Springs girls never host a meet without loading up their relays. At the end of the day, that meant five wins in five relays. The times were not as impressive as we've seen in some previous years (perhaps purple spandex has a heretofore undiscovered kryptonite kind of effect?), but the gaps they put on the field were anything but unimpressive.


In other event action, Grand Valley's Brandi Krieg ran away from the 400 field to win in 1:00.76. That, and Krieg's presence on the Grand Valley SMR8 that posted a nice time, sets up a Cardinal dilemma. Of the 4x800, SMR8, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200, which two (at least) will Krieg drop for the state meet? While it's a nice dilemma for a coach to have, it's still a dilemma.


Meeker's Kathryn Doll went home from the meet with the biggest load of individual titles. Doll took the morning long jump with a leap of 16-3.5 (-1.8), won the triple jump early in the afternoon at 34-8 (1.4), and then closed out her day with a win in the 200 at 28.21 (-3.8). Not a bad day.


Madi Goodstein of Glenwood Springs dominated both hurdle events as well as contributing to some of Glenwood's hurdle domination. Glenwood Springs also got events titles from Jolie Dubois (100 meters) and Jenna Brown (1600 meters).


The Browning brothers of Roaring Fork continued their scorched earth policy of sprinting events, winning the 100, 200, and 400 between them. Buena Vista sophomore Nic Heller continued the progress of his fine season by winning the long jump at 21-7 and taking on the high jump as a new event. This young man should provide a lot of excitement for Buena Vista track and field fans over the next two years. In Buena Vista, track and field comes with expectations. If you don't understand what that means, you haven't been following the sport very closely over the last 25 years.


For me personally, it was a glorious few hours of watching western slope track and field. I don't get many opportunities to travel over the mountains during the season, so I enjoyed the trip and the competition immensely. I'd like to personally thank Glenwood Springs coach Blake Risner for being such a great host. If our prom is scheduled on the weekend of the Glenwood Springs meet again next year, I just might come on over again.