Madi Goodstein leaves the hurdle pursuit in her wake. Photos by David Pressgrove.
GRAND JUNCTION – Every year around this time there is talk of hosting a Western Slope track championship meet. That may never happen, but when all of the 2A and 3A and most of the Slope’s 4A teams converge in Grand Junction the week before the state meet, it’s pretty close to the real thing.
On Thursday and Friday 34 teams, the best of the west — excluding the 4A and 5A Southwest League, which was down in Cortez — put on a show at Stocker Stadium that included 21 national elite performances.
If top performances count for something — not just at the 2A meet but statewide — the 2A girls may have had the most impressive group of the weekend. Telluride/Norword’s duo of Lindsey Stindt and Josephine Bush, West Grand’s Tabor Scholl, Rangely’s Holly Lepro and Meeker’s Kathryn Doll are all ladies who will be announced over the speaker in Denver next weekend.
Stindt’s weekend started out less than ideal with a false start in the prelims of the 100 meter hurdles. She composed herself and went on to dominate the 300 hurdles with a finals time of 45.50. She also finished second to Doll in the long jump with a leap of 17-00.
Bush was victorious in the 100 (12.92), 200 (26.19) and she held off Scholl in the 400 (57.98 to 53.90) in a race that had three ladies under the minute mark – Vail Christian’s Ashlyn Gruber was third in 59.25.
Weather was in the upper 80s on Thursday, but Scholl didn’t hold back a lot in the heat in the 1600. She dominated the field with a 5:09.14. If it weren’t for Bush in the 400, Scholl would have pulled of a quadruple win. The 2A cross country champion won the 800 (2:18.99) and 3200 (11:49.07).
Lepro tossed a personal best of 38-1.5, which was a personal record by almost three feet and she is now the owner of the best throw in Colorado’s Class 2A.
Doll will go into the 2A state meet as the double jumps champion from the Western Slope with personal records of 17-5 in the long jump and 37-5 in the triple jump.
On the boys side, TNT’s Ty Williams was up to his usual tactics, with a triple win in the 800 (2:01.41), 1,600 (4:41.90) and the 3,200 (10:16.07).
Meeker’s Toby Casias was the only other 2A athlete to win more than one individual event. He was the double sprint champion (11.37 in the 100 and 23.46 in the 200).
There are two, 2A leagues that come together for the meet, so there are no official team scores kept for the 2A portion of the meet.
In the Western Slope 3A meet the queen kept her crown and the Bears continued to roar.
The Slope’s sprint queen, Sierra Williams’, sub-12 second 100-meter run (11.94) in the final would have also placed her in the top eight in the boys 2A race. She moved into fourth place in all classes with her new personal best. Williams also improved her lifetime best in the 200 to 24.61, which was nearly a half second better than her previous best this season and moved her into the top five in all of Colorado.
Williams isn’t alone in the speed skills on the Cedaredge girls team. She anchors the 4x100 and 4x200 teams that both are the best in Class 3A. Williams was joined by teammates Rebecca Deal and Summer Herman in the finals of the 100 while Savannah McIntire and Deal finished third and fourth respectively in the 200.
One cannot mention 3A girls track without Hotchkiss in the conversation. Natalie Anderson and Jennifer Celis swept the 400 on up with Anderson winning the 1600 (5:20.71) and 3200 (12:00.16) while Celis won the 400 (57.88) and 800 (2:19.35).
Rifle’s Joey Kuheim swept the girls’ throws with impressive launches of 39-01.5 in the shot put and 128-03 in the discus. Kuheim is in the top five in 3A in both events going into the state meet.
Lost in all of the conversation about top performances was the girls’ title that went to Gunnison (150 points to Cedaredge’s 123.50). The champions won the meet with just two individual champions – Maddie Smith in the pole vault, 9-03.00, and Marisa Danos in the 100 hurdles, 16.58. The Cowgirls distanced themselves from runner-up Cedaredge with big hauls in the pole vault – 21 points – and the 300 hurdles - 19 points. Overall, the Cowgirls had a lot of girls in finals and scoring points.
It took the Rifle boys a while to look like the defending state champions that returned with most of their points, but the Bears have come out of hibernation. Ryan Moeller led the Bears with a 40-point performance. Moeller won the triple jump, 44-11.75, long jump, 21-1, the 400 in 50.11 and the 200 in 22.65. Spectators may have noticed Moeller’s awkward limp prior to the 200, but he still dominated the race for a win. It remains to be seen if Moeller’s limp will affect him in Denver.
Teams don’t win state championships with one strong competitor. Rifle’s depth in the sprints and jumps is the Bears’ strength. Andrew Proebstle, Aaron Wagler and Taylor Webb, Kellin Leigh, and Lee Harrison all provide speed to the 4x100 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams that could all be high on the medal stand in Denver. The Bears and 10-mile-away rivals Coal Ridge will be battling for final-race supremacy in Denver. In Grand Junction the Titans won the 4x100, but the Bears took the 4x200 and 4x400 races. The Bear’s 4x800 team of Wagler, Tanner Rust, Jake Statler and Adam Rice also improved its top-5 time in 3A in the 4x800 relay with an 8:23.53 for the win.
Cedaredge, led by several talented boys in the field events and hurdles, finished second in the team results. Dante Markely won the 300 hurdles (40.61) and had the rare 100/110 hurdles victory. Miguel Barajas won the shot put in 46-10.75 and the discus in 137-9. The high jump results read that Danny Martinez was well below his season best of 6-6 with a jump of 6-3.5. But once Martinez earned the win, he raised the bar to 6-8 and barely scraped the bar twice. His teammate Reid Gates didn’t have his best day, with a jump of 6-1.5, but don’t be surprised if he returns to his 6-6 form in Denver.
The 4A meet started off with some excitement on the boys’ side. Moffat County’s 4x800 team (Alfredo Lebron, Miguel Molina, Rene Molina and Johnny Landa) was challenged nearly stride-for-stride by Glenwood Springs’ team (Christian Leverson, Andrew Mansfield, Vinson Marr, Alex Stepniewski). Lebron took off with 250 to go to ensure a Bulldog victory. It’s been a while since there was such a competitive 4x800 on the Western Slope with the Bulldogs turning in a 7:56.62 and the Demons close behind in 8:01.62. Both times put the teams in the top five in 4A going into state.
Lebron, the 4A cross country champion, has had an inconsistent spring, but his 1:54.98 in the 800 might just be the announcement that he’s back in time for the state meet. He also won the 1600 in 4:34.75.
The 4A WSL coaches awarded the male athlete of the meet award to the only triple champion. Delta’s Ethan Baier won the long jump at 22-00.75, the triple jump at 45-00.5, and high jump at 6-02.00.
Palisade’s Tanner Smith continued his slope dominance in the discus with a launch of 157-04.
Glenwood managed to have multiple athletes in most finals and distanced itself from Moffat County on Friday. The Demons won the meet with 163 points to Moffat’s 135. But before the final points were tallied, the Bulldogs and Demons dueled again in the 4x400. The same four Bulldogs in the 4x800 took on Leverson, Mike Mills, Kellin Casey and Auston Tribble. This time the Demons got the victory, with Leverson holding off Miguel Molina. Again, the teams pushed each other into top-five times Class 4A times in 3:25.72 and 3:25.83.
The coaches' debate over the female MVA (most valuable athlete) sounded similar to a debate heard on ESPN about professional athletes. Lots of give-and-take and little resolution. Does MVP go to the most valuable person on the winning team, or the athlete with the impressive numbers? In the end, the coaches went with co-athletes of the meet.
Battle Mountain’s Valarie Constein was deemed the MVA of the champion Battle Mountain Huskies. She finished a close second in the 800 to Eagle Valley’s Roxy Trotter, 2:21.27 to 2:21.36 and she was second in the triple jump, 34.6.75, to Eagle Valley’s Michelle Carbajal, 37-3. She also helped the Huskies’ 4x800 and 4x400 teams to victory.
Glenwood’s Madi Goodstein was the other half of the co-MVA. She was a double champion in the 100 and 300 hurdles, winning both races convincingly in 15.39 and 46.60 respectively.
The Delta girls were second to Battle Mountain in the team race, 207-141. Delta's Whiting twins, Clarissa and Cleo, took turns winning the distance races for the Panthers. Clarissa won the 1,600 in 5:22.06 and Cleo won the 3,200 in 11:25.86.