Three Garfield County track and field state champions crowned over the weekend
Coal Ridge’s Jensen joins 800 sprint medley atop podium; Grand Valley’s Doyle wins 2A shot put
Coal Ridge High School emerged with one individual and one girls relay state title, and Grand Valley High also had a top competitor at the Colorado High School Track and Field Championships held over the weekend in Lakewood.
Throughout the three-day meet at Jefferson County Stadium, student-athletes from area schools collected several top-nine performances to cap their seasons with a state medal.
Coal Ridge sophomore Brilee Jensen won the 3A girls shot put on Friday, out-throwing the field by a full 3 feet when she launched a personal-best of 38 feet, 9.5 inches.
That same day, the Lady Titans’ 800 sprint medley relay team of seniors Aceleigh Porter and Jackie Camunez and juniors Nicole Herrera and Rilyn Krueger clocked a 1:52.14 to take gold, holding off the team from Elizabeth by a little under a second.
And, Friday was also a big day for Grand Valley senior Jacob Doyle, whose throw of 50 feet even in the 2A boys shot put landed him on top of the state podium. On Thursday, he placed second in the 2A discus.
For Coal Ridge’s Jensen, it was affirmation that she made the right choice when friend, teammate and fellow thrower, senior Addy Davis, talked her into joining the track and field team as a freshman.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I would have done it without my family and teammates by my side,” she said after the competition concluded on Saturday. “They were always there keeping me on my heels and supporting me.”
Davis took 17th in the shot, and on Saturday the Titans teammates scored a pair of top-five finishes in the 3A discus. Davis had a throw of 113 feet, 6 inches to take third, and Jensen was fifth at 104′-3″.
With two more seasons left, Jensen said she’s confident she can surpass the 40-foot mark in the shot and improve her discus technique.
“It will be a lot of footwork, a lot of training and a lot of lifting, but I think it’s something I’m capable of doing and pursuing,” said the three-sport athlete who also plays volleyball and basketball.
Jensen’s stepsister, Coal Ridge senior and soon-to-be West Point cadet Mikayla Cheney came away from the state meet with four medals, including a personal-best time in Saturday’s 1600 meters.
Leading for most of the race, Cheney got passed by Alamosa’s Sarah DeLaCerda on the final lap, finishing in second at 4:58.89, three seconds behind DeLaCerda (4:55.95) and just ahead of Salida’s Quinn Smith (4:59.54).
The time lowered Cheney’s previous school record by more than five seconds.
“I’ve been wanting to go under 5 minutes all season, and knew with the great competition out there on the track today that it would help me get there,” Cheney said. “Alamosa always has super strong runners, and (DeLaCerda) just ended up having a little more in the tank than I did in the end.”
The final event of the meet, the 4×400 relay, saw Cheney team up with Camunez, Krueger and senior Emma Morgan to take second place with a time of 3:59.53, just behind the winning Alamosa team (3:58.53) and a mere split ahead of Berthoud (3:59.55).
“It really was crazy,” Cheney said, noting the Titans’ 4×400 team won the state meet last year with a time of 4:02.
“We ended up switching our order at the last minute, so it worked out,” Cheney said. “I’m so proud of these girls, and it was incredible to see that many teams go under 4 minutes.”
On Friday, Cheney also placed third in the 3200 meters at 11:08.95, again behind DeLaCerda’s winning time of 11:04.13 and Salida’s Smith, who was second in 11:08.08.
Cheney was also third in the 800 meters at 2:15.66, in a race that saw Basalt senior Ava Lane take fifth in 2:16.39.
On top of it all, Cheney ran the prelims of the 4×400 that day, as well.
Coming off of corrective hip surgery a year ago following the 2022 track season, Cheney credited her surgeon and an intensive physical therapy regimen for bringing her back to top form.
A multi-sport athlete, having competed during her four years of high school in cross country, volleyball, basketball and soccer, in addition to track, Cheney said that’s helped her to develop a solid combination of speed and endurance on the track.
She also qualified for state in the 200 and 400 meters, but had to narrow her participation to four events per Colorado High School Activities Association rules.
“I really have to credit our coaches,” Cheney said of Titan coaches Ben and Meggie Kirk. “Our team tends to be a little more short-distance oriented, but they really make sure to try to develop well-rounded athletes.”
Thursday’s final results were reported in the Post Independent on Friday. Other Friday-Saturday podium finishes for area athletes at the state meet this weekend included:
2A girls 800 medley relay: Grand Valley team of senior Abbeyrose Parker, juniors Jaycee Pittman and Kaylae Medina, and freshman Taylor Pittman (fourth, 1:56.89)
2A girls 4×400 relay: Grand Valley team of Pittman, Pittman, Parker and senior Linkin McCormick (sixth, 4:17.01)
3A girls 4×200 relay: Coal Ridge team of Camunez, Krueger, Herrera and Porter (fourth, 1:47.95)
3A girls 100: Jacey Read, Basalt (fourth, 12.53)
3A girls 200: Jacey Read, Basalt (fourth, 25.39)
3A girls 400: Ava Lane, Basalt (fourth, 58.05); Jackie Camunez, Coal Ridge (seventh, 59.89); Rylan Petree, Rifle (ninth, 1:01.23).
3A boys 4×400 relay: Coal Ridge team of seniors James Webber, Ryder Powell and Dylan Campbell and junior Omar Vergara (third, 3:21.49 – new school record)
3A boys 400: Omar Vergara, Coal Ridge (eighth, 50.79); Dylan Campbell, Coal Ridge (ninth, 50.97)
3A boys 800: Dylan Campbell, Coal Ridge (fifth, 1:57.23)
3A boys discus: Troy Mataia, Rifle (fifth, 137′-4″)
Others competing on the final two days of competition but missing the podium were: Joel Valencia, Rifle (3A boys high jump, 12th, 5-11); Tyler Parker, Coal Ridge (3A boys 1600, 18th, 4:46.73); Justin Richel, Coal Ridge (3A boys pole vault, 14th, 11′-3″); Sophia Craig, Rifle (3A girls pole vault, 14th, 8′-0″); and Triniti Johnson, Rifle (3A girls pole vault, 16th, 7′-6″).
Post Independent interim managing editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at email@example.com or at 970-384-9160.
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