Class 4A track: Spotlight shines on Glenwood’s Kaden Weller
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Kaden Weller all last year was trying to chase down a teammate who, eventually, would win a state championship in the 300-meter hurdles.
Now, in an ironic twist of fate, Weller, a Glenwood Springs High School junior, has every Class 4A intermediate hurdler chasing him heading into this weekend’s State Championships at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.
Weller isn’t complaining one bit, either. If anything, he’s embracing the challenge, and that atmosphere that will come along with it.
“That gets my blood flowing. It’s good, and I like it,” Weller said with an emphatic smile. “Things like that get me pumped up. I can’t embarrass myself in front of everybody, right?”
Weller heads into the state meet with high expectations, and for good reason. His personal-best time of 39.01 seconds in the 300 hurdles is tied for the classification’s best time in the event with Trenton Stringari of Canon City, and he’s one of only five 4A hurdlers who have times under 40 seconds.
What’s more, Weller is trying to become the second consecutive Glenwood Springs intermediate hurdler to win a state championship. Last year, Auston Tribble won the event with a personal-best time of 37.74, becoming the first male intermediate hurdles champion in school history.
Weller ran in the lane right next to Tribble in the state final, finishing eighth. This year, he hopes the improvements he’s made in the event since the 2013 state meet will pay major dividends.
“I have more experience under my belt and I know all of the intensity that goes with this meet,” Weller said. “I know what to expect now. And when you get in that environment, being in the atmosphere of being around all of these crazy good athletes, just helps and motivates you.”
Longtime Glenwood Springs coach Blake Risner said that started with Weller competing alongside Tribble on a daily basis.
“Running with Auston Tribble last year definitely enhanced Kaden’s progress,” Risner said. “The fact that he was in the state final and he was in the lane outside of his teammate, I think, gave him the realization that he can run with the best in the state.”
Weller won’t be the only Garfield County athlete that will be competing in the 4A state meet. Including relay alternates, Glenwood will send 15 athletes to the state meet, and Rifle will send nine, including alternates.
Weller will also run in the 200 and will be a leg of the Demons’ 4×200- and 4×400-meter relay teams. Senior Garrett Lowe, the lead leg of the Glenwood’s 4×100 and 4×200 relays, is one of eight athletes who come into the shot put with a mark of 50 feet or more.
On the girls side for Glenwood, Delaney Gaddis has qualified for the 300 hurdles, also, but her top marks in the long jump (17 feet, 6 inches) and triple jump (35-11 3/4) each give her a shot at a podium finish.
Rifle’s best chances to place will come in both the throwing and jumping events, especially on the girls side.
Rifle senior Brittany Neuroth will try to give the Bears a podium finish in the discus for the third consecutive year, as her top mark of 120-8 ranks her eighth among the 18-person state fields in the meet. In the shot put, her top mark of 35-3 3/4 is ranked 12th. Another Rifle senior, Carsyn Copeland, has qualified in the high jump with a mark of 5-2, which is six inches below the top mark of 5-8 set by Durango freshman Ali Davis.
On the boys side for the Bears, senior Brayden Smith qualified in both the shot put and the discus, with his top mark of 48-9 1/4 ranking him 11th in the field. Rifle’s boys 4×800 relay team will also compete in the state meet with a top-team time of 8:20.39.
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