Demon boys, Titan girls claim league track titles
Sometimes, small moments can change the outcome of events, and on Saturday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction on Day 2 of the multi-league Western Slope Track and Field championships, the Glenwood Springs Demons boys experienced just that.
Trailing early in the 400m dash, the Glenwood trio of Gavin Olson, Aaron Smith, and Ale Angles kicked it into high gear and rolled to a 1-2-3 finish. Olson claimed first with a time of 50.32 seconds, while Smith (52.63) and Angeles (52.89) followed closely behind. What was big about the top three sweep for the Demons was that it gave Glenwood just enough breathing room in the end over Eagle Valley, which saw two runners place fourth and fifth.
“I knew we needed those points, and I saw the Eagle runners in front of me, so I gave it all I had,” Smith said following the race. “Gavin and Ale, they were right there too. Being able to come from behind there was pretty cool.”
“I was pretty excited to see all three of us finish in the way that we did,” Olson added following the 400m win. “We’re all pretty good 400 runners all the way around, so that was huge. It definitely helped us chase down Eagle Valley a lot.”
By finishing in the top three, the Glenwood trio helped edge out the Devils in the 4A Western Slope League team standings, giving Glenwood their second straight boys league championship, scoring 121 points in the two-day championships.
“It was a fantastic battle all weekend long with Eagle Valley,” Glenwood Head Coach Blake Risner said following the league championship win. “They had missteps, and we had missteps. We had some fantastic performances, as did they. If I were to pick a turning point, it would probably be the 400. That was a big, big turning point for us. There were a lot of points where we really stepped up. I could name a dozen boys who helped us win this team title, but that was an amazing turn of events where the team points just swung in our favor.”
Last year’s league championship, which was the Glenwood boy’s first win since 2012, came down to the final leg in the 4×400 relay. This time, it came down to individual events, where the trio of Olson, Smith, and Angeles helped the Demons repeat as league champs.
Aside from the Glenwood boys, the Coal Ridge girls brought home a team title for the fifth straight season under head coach Ben Kirk. The Titans scored 108 team points to edge out the Steamboat Springs Sailors in second place with 103 points, while Moffat County placed third with 101.25 points. The Rifle Bears’ girls team placed fourth under head coach Chris Bomba with 98 points, while the Grand Valley girls placed fifth under head coach Mark Jansen with 86.25 points.
The Titans picked up the win, thanks to a win in the 4x200m relay, as the team of Emily Wright, Santana Martinez, Raeanna Nelson, and Kara Morgan clocked in a time of 1:49.30 to hold off the Rifle relay team. The Titan relay team of Wright, Martinez, Phoebe Young, and Morgan won the 4x200m relay with a time of 51.61 seconds, again holding off Rifle’s relay team.
“This was somewhat unexpected with the girls,” Kirk, who was named the WSL Coach of the Year, said following the league championship. “Obviously, it’s what we shoot for, but we lost a lot of talent from last year with the girls. But we’re blessed with an incredible group of kids that came in, worked hard, and performed very well for us. I knew we’d be up there, but I didn’t know where we’d be.”
Individually, Grand Valley sophomore Jordyn Pittman had not only the best day of any valley athlete, but arguably one of the best days of any track athlete in the state as the season winds towards the state meet.
Pittman had a hand in four wins for the Cardinals, including three individually. The sophomore won the 100m dash, 200m dash, 400m dash, and anchored the Cardinals’ 800m sprint medley team. Pittman also set new school records in the 200m and 400m on the day, breaking her own previous marks. All those accomplishments helped the sophomore earn 3A Western Slope League Athlete of the Year following the championships.
The super sophomore clocked a time of 12.77 seconds in the 100m to hold off Rifle’s Delaney Phillips in second with a time of 12.86 seconds, before then clocking a time of 26.46 seconds in the 200m dash, again holding off Phillips, who clocked a time of 26.67 seconds for second place.
Pittman narrowly edged out Steamboat’s Maggi Congdon in the 400m, clocking a time of 58.34 seconds, before then anchoring the winning 800 sprint medley team for Grand Valley. Alex Mendoza, Ryley Sackett, Shaya Chenoweth, and Pittman recorded a time of 1:52.06, edging out Coal Ridge’s team of Nelson, Martinez, Jaycelyn Krueger, and Morgan in second place with a time of 1:55.23 seconds.
The Glenwood girls turned in a second-place performance at the league championships, recording 101 team points to finish behind Battle Mountain in first with 142 points. The Coal Ridge boys saw their bid for a sixth straight league championship come to an end, as a disqualification in the 300m hurdles ended up being the difference on the day. The Titans scored 113 team points, finishing seven points behind Moffat County, which scored 120 points. The Roaring Fork boys placed third on the day under head coach Ryan Erickson, scoring 87 points, while Rifle placed sixth with 56.50 points, and the Grand Valley boys placed 10th with 27.50 points.
Glenwood senior Ginny Bergstrom turned in a huge day for Risner and the Demons, winning the 100m hurdles and the 300m hurdles. Bergstrom recorded a time of 15.15 seconds in the 100m hurdles, edging out teammate Sequoia Kellogg in second place with a time of 15.80 seconds, before then recording a time of 47.06 seconds to win the 300m hurdles league title, again edging out Kellogg in second,
“Both races felt very good,” Bergstrom said. “I set personal records in both of them, so they both felt good. It was nice to see Sequoia right there with me in the end in both.”
Local athletes took the top three spots in Saturday’s 3A 110m hurdles final, as Roaring Fork’s Jasper Germain claimed the league championship with a time of 15.25 seconds, while Rifle’s Joel Lopez placed second with a time of 15.53 seconds. Coal Ridge’s Dylan Allen clocked in with a third-place finish with a time of 16.03 seconds.
Germain wasn’t done either, as the senior won the high jump for the Rams with a height of 6-03.00 feet, edging out Coal Ridge’s Connor Detlefsen in second (6-03.00) and teammate Justin Thompson in third (5-10.75). Thompson and Germain also went 1-2 in the 3A long jump.
“It was pretty rough today,” Germain said following the two wins. “I only cleared 6-03.00 today, but it feels pretty good to get the win today.”
Rifle’s Lopez claimed his first league championship by winning the 300m hurdles in 3A, recording a time of 40.34 seconds, while Glenwood teammates AJ Crowley, Wyatt Ewer, and Bryce Risner placed second, third and fourth in the 4A 300m hurdles with times of 39.72, 40.05, and 42.43 seconds. Risner and Crowley went 2-3 in the 110m hurdles in 4A for Glenwood. Kuba Bartnick added a second-place finish in the 100m dash for the Demons with a time of 11.74 seconds.
Matching Lopez’s performance for the Bears was Rifle senior distance runner Sarah Wagler, who claimed a league championship in the 1600m run, edging out Steamboat’s Congdon by recording a time of 5:21.36.
“I had to run smart today, as I was trying to stick with the two Steamboat runners,” Wagler said. “I was trying to keep pace with them, but after staying with them, I realized I needed to pick it up. Once I did, I was able to overtake them.”
Coal Ridge’s Ezequiel Contreras continued his strong run of individual performances for the Titans by placing second in the 3A 100m dash, clocking a time of 11.44 seconds, while Roaring Fork’s Ronald Clemente and Grand Valley’s Laytham Magana went 2-3 in the 1600m run, clocking times of 4:39.34, and 4:42.59.
Basalt’s Noah Williams won the 200m dash in 3A with a time of 23.61 seconds, while Contreras and Coal Ridge teammate Jacx Power finished second and third in the event with times of 23.84 seconds, and 23.92 seconds. Olson added another win for Glenwood in the 200m dash in 4A, clocking a time of 23.10 seconds, edging Eagle Valley’s Alejandro Aragon in second place.
In field events, Roaring Fork’s Spencer Ochko placed second in the 3A discus throw with a distance of 141-08, while Power placed third for Coal Ridge with a throw of 136-03. Glenwood’s Payten Spencer placed second in the 4A women’s discus throw with a distance of 105-08.
Saylor Warren and Kellogg placed 1-2 in the long jump for the Demons with distances of 16-05.75, and 16-03.00, while Thompson and Germain went 1-2 for Roaring Fork in the men’s 3A long jump, recording distances of 21-02.25, and 20-11.00.
Rifle’s Maddy Valencia placed second in the 3A triple jump with a distance of 32-00.25, while Sackett placed third for the Cardinals with a distance of 31-11.75.
Local athletes will compete in the Tiger Invitational Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with one last shot at qualifying for the state meet, May 17-19.
(Post Independent Editor John Stroud contributed to this report.)
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.