Bears, Demons look to send more athletes to state
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The second the 2008 track and field season came to an end with the state meet at Lakewood’s JeffCo Stadium, Glenwood Springs coach Blake Risner found himself eagerly awaiting the next season.
He can stop waiting now.
Practices have begun and a new track and field season will kick off with a relay meet at Grand Junction Central on Friday.
“I’ve been looking forward to the season starting ever since the end of last year,” Risner proclaimed.
It’s easy to see why he’s chomping at the bit.
Risner is returning a back-to-back regional champion girls squad and a load of athletes who qualified for state last year.
At state, his Demons collected 13 medals and broke two school records and countless personal records.
With few graduation hits and much of last season’s talent returning, Glenwood Springs should make its presence felt once more.
“Our senior class is stellar,” Risner said. “We have some depth on the girls side. We should make some noise in May.”
For 4A and 5A schools across Colorado, the path to the state meet will be more difficult than in years past.
Up until last year, teams would fight it out for trips to state at regional meets. Starting this spring, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) is turning to a rankings system in which the athletes holding the top 18 times in each event at regular season’s end earn a state slot.
Risner, entering his 13th year as the Demons’ track coach, has never been a big fan of the idea.
“It gives fewer kids an opportunity to qualify for state,” he said. “It takes away that head-to-head aspect of qualifying.”
The veteran coach insisted, though, that Glenwood should still send a sizable group of kids to state.
“We’re very fortunate we have a strong enough team where we’ll still get qualifiers,” he said.
Among the returners who finished high at state last year are boys hurdler Dakota Stonehouse, a bronze medalist in the 300-meter hurdles, and Laura Young, who took silver in the girls 300 hurdles.
Also back are the majority of relay squad members who helped the Demon girls notch three top-10 finishes.
RIFLE, Colorado ” With a bevy of returning state qualifiers and a program that’s growing in numbers, third-year Rifle track and field coach Jerry Shafer is high on his Bears’ chances in 2009.
“We’re strong numbers-wise,” he said. “I think the guys have an outside shot this year, if everything works out ” as long as we stay healthy.”
The Bear boys had a huge showing at state last year, with three relay squads (4×100-meter, 4×200 and 4×400) and a number of individuals making it to Lakewood.
The girls sent their 4×400 relay team and a pole vaulter (Tori Jorgensen) to state in 2008.
Rifle brought pole vault into the field fray last season, and once again the school will serve as the Garfield County’s hot spot for vaulting. The Bears, the only ones in the county who have pole vault equipment, will welcome in at least a Grand Valley athlete or two to train with them on their pit.
Both Rifle and Glenwood open the season Friday at the Grand Junction Central Relays.
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The Rifle and Glenwood Springs girls tangled on Tuesday night at Glenwood’s Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium in a 4A Western Slope League contest that carried major implications in the conference standings.