GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Blake Risner's wry smile at the end of the 33rd-annual Demon Invitational was for a good reason.
"We've had a pretty good run," the longtime Glenwood Springs High School track and field coach said of his girls team's success at their annual home meet. "But this year, we weren't expected to win it. That makes this that much sweeter."
The proverbial cherry on top for the Glenwood girls was the final score in the team standings. Though Risner couldn't pinpoint how many consecutive seasons his girls have won the meet, the Demons' depleted squad still emerged out front by a single point in the 15-team meet on Saturday.
"We were really scared at the beginning of the season," said senior sprinter Ally Tapp, who won individual titles in the 200 and 400 meters. "We lost a lot of talent to people graduating or playing soccer or something. So we were trying to put together all new people, and I think it's coming along a lot better than we expected it to."
The proof of that is in the final team standings. Glenwood tallied a point total of 142, topping second-place Paonia (141) by the slimmest of margins. In all, the Demons took home six individual titles out of 18 events, and had enough depth to slip by Paonia, one of the top 2A girls track teams in Colorado.
"I think it all stems from believing in each other and not listening when someone says, 'you suck," Tapp said. "It definitely helps having confidence in each other."
Tapp took first in the 200 in 26.36 seconds to go with her first-place time of 1:00.19 in the 400. Running the anchor leg of the girls' 4x400 relay, she accelerated past Eagle Valley's Roxy Trotter down the backstretch to give her team a second-place finish in the event in 4:20.71. That finish gave the Demons the eight points they needed to hold off Paonia, even though the Eagles earned 10 points by winning the event in 4:11.71.
Also winning events for the Glenwood girls were Rachel Orosz, who barely fended off Grand Valley High senior Rocio Roman to win the 100 hurdles in 17.12, and Monica Reynolds, who took first in the 300 hurdles, winning in 49.30.
Glenwood's Kenzie Nelson-Buehler returned to varsity competition after a three-week layoff. She did well considering, winning the shot put with a mark of 38 feet, 13⁄4 inches, and the discus with a personal-best throw of 117-9.
"I'd like to be at 130, though," Nelson-Buehler said in reference to the distance she'd like to be throwing by the time the 4A regional meet in Grand Junction comes around on May 10 and 11. "I'll get there. My last [personal record] I threw 105 before I threw 117. I can do it again."
Glenwood's boys squad fared well, finishing second in the team standings with 115 points behind first-place Eagle Valley (182).
The Demons' highlight came from the 4x100 relay team of Travis Alderson, Auston Tribble, Henry Hill and Kaden Weller, whose winning time of 43.39 not only broke the meet record, but the school record of 43.67 set in 2008.
"Last week [at the Eagle Valley Invitational in Gypsum] we ran pretty close to it," said Tribble, who also won the 300 hurdles and was part of the Demons' winning 4x400 relay team. "I'm just excited for the future, because I think we're going to do more than just break our record."
Alderson was the meet's big winner, earning victories in each of his four events and scoring 10 team points for each win. He won the 100 in 11.29, the long jump with a mark of 20-7 and the triple jump with a leap of 41-111⁄2.
Alderson pulled his best jump of the day on his last attempt. Prior to that, Grand Valley sophomore Ben Coleman was leading, after he landed a massive personal-best mark of 40-103⁄4, which beat his previous PR by close to two feet.
"Yeah, that's too bad there at the end," Coleman said. "I think he might be a senior, though, so I don't have to worry about him next year."