Miguel Barajas stunned the favored throwers to win the 3A boys shot put today. Photo by Alan Versaw.
For a couple of hours this afternoon, Eaton's girls appeared to be floundering without hope, but hope was born anew on a pole (or, more likely, three poles).
After a dismal outing in the discus prelims where Mel Herl failed to get a legal throw in three attempts and Karli Jelden missed making finals, Eaton looked to be running short of answers.
Short, but apparently not out.
The Reds stormed the pole vault competition and claimed 21 points between Karli Jelden, Jazmin Schwark, and Jayla Jarnigan. That point total cut TCA's margin on Eaton essentially in half and offered Eaton an enormous lift leading into Saturday's final day of competition.
Eaton has, at this point, 21 points to make up, and both teams have a nearly full slate of Saturday entries. Rarely, however, will the Reds and Titans match strength against strength in a potential battle for top places.
Two events where that kind of matching figures to happen are the 300 hurdles, where Ryleigh Haynes and Alexa Chacon square off with Berthoud's Courtney Mills (pictured, left, winning today's triple jump, photo by Jeff McCoy) and the 4x400. The 300 hurdles could be an event where we bid farewell to the existing state meet record. These three girls are all that good. The Reds and Titans will also likely face some stiff competition in the 4x400.
As a team, Berthoud is not mathematically eliminated, but more or less needs to have their best day of the season to get back into the title hunt. There is much ground to be made up on both TCA and Eaton at this point. Injuries have taken their toll on the Spartans throughout the season and that has been evident yet at the state meet.
On the boys' side, TCA continued to build their point total with 18 points in the 800 courtesy of a 2-4-6 finish from Adam Avischious, Nathan Wilson, and Clark Mourning, and a sixth in the 4x200. Meanwhile, Rifle continue to build their list of qualifiers for tomorrow's sprint, hurdle, and relay finals.
Faith Christian remains in contention with a one-point lead over TCA at the close of Friday's action, but a 2-5 finish in the shot put for Grayson Bundick and Derek McCartney leaves the Eagles in a precarious position. Bundick and McCartney are both great throwers, but this was one of those days the 1-2 didn't materialize for them. Faith, with a very small contingent of athletes at the state meet, needed firsts and seconds to keep the fire roaring in the furnace of hope.
Faith's sole representatives in Saturday's events are Luke Yeager and Evan Fortney in the 1600. Fortney is the favorite to win and Yeager figures to place, but, even so, it may not be enough to keep Faith in first.
Rifle will be looking to whittle away at TCA's lead in the final day, and they certainly have the number of entries in finals necessary to make that kind of run. Rifle figures to gain on TCA in the 100, 200, 4x100, and 110 meter hurdles, where the Titans have no entries. TCA figures to gain ground on the Bears in the 1600, where TCA has four entries and Rifle has none. Otherwise, on paper, the events coming up on Saturday appear to be roughly a wash between the two teams. If it comes down to the 4x400, both teams have qualified for finals and are among the top seeds.
TCA's gap on Rifle stands at 24 points heading into Saturday.
Highlights from Friday's action include a new state meet record in the girls triple jump for Courtney Mills. The winning jump for Mills took her to 39-8.5 (-1.7). The Coal Ridge boys put nearly a full second on the field to win the 4x200 in 1:29.94, Miguel Barajas surprised the shot put field with a winning throw of 50-3, and TCA's girls cruised to a 1:48.26 win the the SMR8.
One special treat coming up for 3A track and field fans is the set of sprint finals matching Alex Mead vs. Troy Johnson in the boys and Sierra Williams vs. Rachael Moralez in the girls. This group has already rewritten the 100 and 200 meter state meet records for 3A, and there figures to be a lot of adrenaline on the line for tomorrow.