Faris Blackhurst is one of a bumper crop of sophomores at Rye High School who threaten to change the face of 2A track and field. Photo by Paul Jaeger.
Rye High School is rich in athletic tradition. Amazingly, however, Rye's boys have never won a state title in track and field. They did earn a pair of seconds in 1995 and 1996, but have never been at the top of the podium. Conceivably, that could change sometime in the next three seasons. And it has a whole lot to do with that sophomore class at Rye High School.
Three sophomores, in particular, have demonstrated enormous potential to be state point producers over the next three years--Matthew Stevenson, Faris Blackhurst, and Trey Zupancic.
Matthew Stevenson falls into the tradition of throwing excellence at Rye. Stevenson led all freshmen in the state, regardless of classification, last year with a shot put mark of 45-9. With Daniel Weirich out of the picture, Stevenson is a legitimate threat to win the 2A title this spring. He didn't have a meet all season under 41 feet. His discus throw is still a work in progress, but Rye has much to look forward to in the throws.
Faris Blackhurst appears to be the future of Rye distance. Blackhurst is clearly still developing but had a third-place finish at regional cross country and took 26th at state. He owns a cross country PR of 17:30. That's getting into the range where scoring points at state becomes a possibility if the off-season work is in place.
Trey Zupancic demonstrated incredible potential as a freshman last spring, running 11.93 for the 100, 25.02 for the 200, long jumping 20-3, and triple jumping 38-10 in limited action. That leaves aan impressive upside for the next three seasons.
For now, though, Rye will need more than just sophomores. The good news is that they have more than just sophomores.
Sean Daniels was a state qualifier in the 400 last spring at 52.81. With any sort of reasonable development from year to year, he should be a state placer this spring and will also be relied on heavily in the Rye relays.
Sam Ambler (if you follow southeast Colorado track and field at all, that last name will strike an instant chord of recognition) returns as the top-ranked triple jumper in 2A. He's also a 6-1 high jumper and figures on relays.
Ty Zupancic adds at 6-0 high jump PR and sprint depth to the mix. Josh Hardin? Still more sprint depth and potential long jump points.
Last year, Rye placed their 4x400 and 4x800 relays at state, collecting a total of six points between the two relays. They'll need bigger production than that this spring, but that seems fairly reasonable given the cast of returning athletes. Obviously, any added numbers would be helpful when you stop to consider that Rye competes in the same classification as Lyons. But, the possibilities are trending skyward for the team under the shadow of Greenhorn Mountain.
As you scan up and down the Rye resume, it becomes apparent that the team's strengths figure to lie in the field events and relays. At this point, hurdle events are a complete non-factor for Rye, and that could hurt them in a state title run. Still, every team has weaker and stronger areas, and perhaps a new track this year becomes the impetus for some hurdle development. Or, maybe Rye simply stands pat with what they do best. In either case, it shouldn't take us too long to find out.
That new track is slated to host the first meaningful track meet in Rye in some time this spring. The Thunderbolt Invitational is scheduled to drop out of the sky on April 19 and will be a rankings meet.