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A pair of Glenwood Springs track standouts sign to compete in college

Kuba Bartnik (left) and AJ Adams (right) sign their official commitments to Adams State and Concordia University-Irvine respectively.
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Glenwood Springs High School has a history of sending track and field athletes to the next level. Both Kuba Bartnik and AJ Adams represent the latest crop of graduating seniors to head to the collegiate level, albeit without their senior season.

In the last 10 years, Glenwood has sent 22 athletes into college to compete. The latest two had to handle a lot of the work themselves.

“Last year was a record year for our program in terms of the number of kids that moved onto the college level,” coach Blake Risner said. “Those two were watching from the side and saying, ‘That’s gonna be us next year.’ Then to have their season taken away, I think for them to persevere and do all the college contacts on their own and to end up signing with successful programs, it just shows kids that, you know, what you do on the track combined with what you do on your own can really lead to a lot of success.”

Between the two, Bartnik a runner and Adams a jumper, they placed in the top-3 finishers, 28 respective times.

The former is heading to Adams State in Alamosa, while Adams will head to Concordia University-Irvine in Irvine, California.

They each leave a different legacy in Glenwood.

For Adams, it’s one of a kid who hadn’t ever competed in track and field leading into high school but made incredible leaps in a short period.

“I’ve always been a very athletic person with jumping high and (having) hops,” Adams said. “It was pretty easy to get with the higher heights, but as I’ve developed, as I’ve worked on more things like the form and all that, I feel like it’s been a night and day difference and I’ve only been high jumping for pretty much, let’s think like two years.

“I feel like I have a long way to go before I even come close to the ceiling.”

In Risner’s mind, Adams could one day “jump 7 feet,” if he continues to work on his skills. In high school, he brought the jumping equipment to his own house and used a single, motivating conversation from his coach to develop a work ethic.

“His freshman year, he wasn’t really able to get the most out of high jumping because the lack of flexibility and the lack of a technique that he was demonstrating,” Risner said. “So I talked to him about it and I said, ‘Hey, we can’t fix this in a season. But you can certainly … take care of some of these issues by working hard on the off-season.’

“For him, just to hear a couple of words from my coach and take all the time in the off-season to make improvements, you know, and (now) he gets to spend 12 months a year working on one sport and one event like that – I think he’s just going to take off.”

The mentality is shared with Bartnik who enters college as a runner who, “ran every race like it was his last.” Risner has always preached to his runners to give everything, but Bartnik was the example of what it looks like in action.

“I just want to go down being known as someone that will work his tail off day in and day out and just leave it out on the track every single time,” Bartnik said. “I want to keep that true every single time I run, because nothing is ever guaranteed. If anything happens, like an injury or whatever the case may be, I want to leave a lasting image that hard work does prevail over talent.”

Whatever their legacy is in college, the one at Glenwood Springs is cemented.

lzahlmann@postindependent.com


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