Molly Reicher paces while Val Constien hunts midway through the girls 1600. Photo by Michele Bisbee.
It seems "good meet conditions" is a relative phrase, particularly in March in Colorado. Although Saturday’s weather at the Mickey Dunn Invite couldn’t be considered ideal by any means, it definitely was better than last years’ meet, which started at a chilly 28 degrees. In any case, the Mickey Dunn seems to have fared better than some of meets on the Front Range.
A drizzle invited itself in the early stages and came back as the meet was ending, but besides a few stiff wind gusts, the majority the meet was run in the low 50s. Tough on sprinters, but not bad for the distance crews as it turned out.
Stocker Stadium is already the go-to stadium for track & field on the Western Slope, and it is becoming even more so. In the late fall the track was resurfaced and the shot and discus rings are in the process of being completely renovated to NCAA standards. The chain link discus cage that sometimes incosiderately bounced back errant discuses is now a full-fledged netted, double ringed cage suitable for the hammer throw.
Steeple and pole vault pits, along with a javelin runway are next on the improvement agenda. The high school crowd has the great opportunity to field test these improvements and the results passed muster.
The Lady Devils of Eagle Valley laid down the gauntlet right from the get-go. McKenzee Sisson, Megan Asmussen, Carly Volkmer and Roxy Trotter teamed up to lay down a very respectable early-season 800 sprint medley time of 1:54.86. Fruita Monument hung on to finish second in 1:57.10 and the 3A power sprint group from Moffat County pushed to third in 2:00.92. Moffat County came back later to place second in the 4x100 relay with 52.20.
Of course, no one expected things to let up much when the 4x800s stepped onto the track. With distance powerhouse Mountain Vista making the trip over the hill, the expectation was they weren’t coming simply to take in the high-desert scenery. For those Western Slopers looking to get an extra push from the Golden Eagles, they were not disappointed.
The quartet of Brian Glover, Connor Weaver, Blake Graf and Andrew Walton made things look way too easy as they stormed to improve to 8:19.20, distancing the pack by near 14 seconds.
The Vista Nation boys also nearly pulled off a sweep in the 3200. Paxton Smith, Graf and Tyler Matzke packed together to push the pace and to try to break away from the small splash of purple joining the green party. That purple was 3A Basalt’s Zach Walsh. Walsh doggedly kept pace with the threesome and when Paxton (9:55.59) made a move to breakaway, the group strung out just a bit with Graf (9:57.17) giving chase and Walsh (10:00.53) managing to hold off Matzke (10:01.10).
It would end up all that was green in the distance events was not from Highlands Ranch. Summit’s Liam Meirow, freshly back from NYC and the New Balance Indoor Nationals, decided this weekend would be as good as any to start the outdoor season. The 1600 would be the first battle to go down. After the first 600 Meirow, Weaver and Fruita’s Chuck Bisbee broke away from the pack and pushed the pace along until the final lap when Meirow and Weaver pulled away with Meirow besting Weaver 4:32.29 to 4:32.90 (photo, below, by Michele Bisbee).
The close finishes were not yet done though as Vista Nation next sent Walton to battle Meirow in the 800. Both cruised through the first lap in around 60 and then they easily moved to the front and kept pushing from there. As the two entered the final stretch they were neck and neck with a slight edge to Meirow. They both fought to gap the other but neither gave an inch. Meirow would cross in 1:56.84, Weaver 1:57.00.
And still the parade of distance excellence did not end. Battles were in big supply and aptly-named Battle Mountain sent their own Val Constein to match up with Vista’s Molly Reicher. Apparently last week was just a walk in the park for Constein and she took every opportunity to capitalize on having a worthy opponent in Reicher. The two pushed each other until Constein proved to be too much over the final lap, running a huge PR 5:15.38. Reicher would finish also with a PR 5:20.41.
Mountain Vista would get one back in the 800 when Ashlee Johnson pulled away from Eagle Valley’s Trotter. Delta’s Mykayla Music also used some last lap speed to win the 3200 over Battle Mountain’s Gaylord sisters, Sydney and Hannah. Did I mention that Delta’s uniforms are also green? St. Patrick’s Day may have passed, but the luck o’ the Irish must still be going strong.
There was rain but no rainbow forming during the ladies shot put. Nevertheless, the Delta ladies struck gold as Bryanna Music (42-9) and freshman teammate Lily Lockhart (38-2) both scored personal bests, to go 1-2. 1A Dove Creek’s Madison Young secured the final medal with a put of 33-7.5. Though wet, the new ring held up well.
Montezuma-Cortez’s sophomore Tayla Topaha also achieved a new best, this one in the discus ring. Topaha threw 111-10 to improve over 12 feet to come in second to Rifle’s Brittany Neuroth.
Big improvements in the throws were not just reserved for the ladies, but green was not as popular on the boys’ side. Instead the hue was more to the maroon of Palisade. How about a 15 foot improvement? That belongs to Leo Gallegos who must have been hitting the weights and working on mechanics in the off-season to win with a throw of 152-10. Teammate Brandon Worley also improved eight feet for second (136-4). Worley doubled back to win the shot put with yet another best 48-2.25. Perhaps it was something in the peaches this past season in the Grand Valley banana belt?
The boys’ horizontal jumps belonged to Eagle Valley’s Riley Rowles-Birdsong (21-2.50 and 41-10); both PRs and both wind legal. Rowles-Birdsong also took the 300 hurdles crown. Telluride’s John Broadhead broke up the Eagle Valley jump domination with a high jump of 6-4.
The weather was not particularly wonderful when it came to the sprinting events. One performance worth noting is Grand Junction’s sophomore Jill Payne who won the girls 200 from a slower heat, running into a -4.0 wind.
The sprints seemed a little bit kinder for the boys. Glenwood Springs’ Cole Adams ran a wind legal 11.76 personal best to edge the field for the win in the 100. He came back to place second in the 200 and was part of the winning 4x100. Montezuma-Cortez’s Justice Ramos shaved over a second off his best time in the 400 to win in 51.59.
To finish up the meet, the Battle Mountain ladies 4x400 foursome of Katie Matarese, Sofia Calabrese, Izzy Calabrese and Constein dominated to win in 4:09.48. The strong lady Huskies performances of the day gave them the team trophy, besting Fruita Monument 92.50 to 84.
The team title on the boys side came down to a one point differential; Glenwood Springs 84 and Mountain Vista 83.