Demons set to host ‘highlight’ meet |

Demons set to host ‘highlight’ meet

Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

Less teams. More quality.

That’s the buzz surrounding Saturday’s 24th annual Demon Invitational track meet with 20 Western Slope squads scheduled to compete at Glenwood High School’s venerable Stubler Memorial Field track.

Even though the teams have been pared down to a more manageable number, there still will be plenty of top athletes on hand to make this year’s Demon Invite a must-see event.

“I see the Demon Invitational as one of two highlights of the season for our program,” said head coach Blake Risner. “This is one of the meets that we want to be at our best, and we’re doing everything as a coaching staff and a team to have our best performances on Saturday.”

And Saturday, the Demons will be challenged by many of the Western Slope’s best runners, throwers and jumpers.

“There’s definitely added motivation when (Demon athletes) line up against a regional foe,” Risner said. “(They) do take note of what Palisade is doing and Rifle is doing and Steamboat is doing when we go to these other meets. They like to be lined up against those kids to see how they stack up.”

Among those stacking up against the host Demons are three current state champions and three state runners-up.

Glenwood’s Amber Sutherland, the girls 4A state discus champ and 4A runner-up in the shot put, is favored to win both events at Saturday’s meet. She faces a repeat challenge by Palisade’s Krysten Hayes in both disciplines.

At last week’s Palisade Invitational in Grand Junction. Sutherland, won the shot with a 38 foot, 21⁄2 inch toss while Hayes took fourth place. In the discus, Hayes had the better mark ” an event-winning 119-11⁄2 effort to Sutherland’s third-place 112-2 throw.

In the girls running events, the spotlight zooms in on two visiting competitors.

On Saturday, Hotchkiss senior Rachel Schmucker should display the form that earned her both 3A state hurdle titles last year.

This season, Schmucker is on pace to repeat in both events.

A double-winner in Grand Junction last week, Schmucker’s 15.56 and 46.20 marks in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles are this year’s best in 3A, according to RockyPreps.

Sprinter Jessica Peters is the top runner for the surging Steamboat Springs girls, which won the Palisade meet girls team title over Class 5A Fruita Monument by 21 points.

Peters is the reigning 4A state 400 champion. Prior to running a 57.86 time at Palisade, the Steamboat sophomore had the No. 2 time statewide in the classification.

Hotchkiss, Steamboat and Rifle are among the favorites to win the girls team title.

Instead of having one individual carry the load, the Bears amass team points with a large roster and steady improvement.

Ali Little is Rifle’s top sprinter. To date, the junior’s posted state top-ten times in the 200 (27.14) and 400 (1:00.91). Senior Savannah Beecraft also put up strong times in the 400 (1:02.01) and 800 (2:30.36).

Both runners, with teammates Heather Anderson and Lindsey Bowen, will also be a force in the girls 4×400 relay. Rifle won the Palisade meet in a season-best 4 minutes, 14.85 seconds.

As a team, the Glenwood girls are young, but have improved their times at every meet, according to Risner.

Nicole Wagner, a sophomore, will run in the sprints. Andrea Vincent is slotted for the 400. Freshman Sam Ciani slashed nine seconds from her previous 800 best at Palisade, and Amanda Alberico ran a season-best 12:55.55 to finish sixth in the event last week.

Rifle, last year’s boys team champ, is looking for their second straight Demon meet title. The Bears, ranked tenth in the state 4A polls, finished fourth at Palisade behind Grand Junction, Palisade and Fruita Monument.

Brian Hileman and Jordan Robinson are Rifle’s best bets for a medal in the sprints. Both are among the state’s 4A leaders in the 100 and 400 meters.

Glenwood counters with Joe Schiavone and Dustin Braeger. Schiavone earned the Demons highest individual finish in the running events ” a 23.82 time for third place in the 200 dash. Braeger timed a 53.55 in the 400.

In the hurdles, Eagle Valley’s Brad Gamble will be tough to beat. As a sophomore, Gamble was the 2003 state runner-up in the highs (15.07) and intermediates (38.81).

Shifting to the long-distance runs, Glenn Randall of Plateau Valley is the clear favorite. Randall, the 2A 3,200 champ and the 1,600 runner-up, warmed up for the Demons with a 9:52.02 3,200 win and a 4:36.35 second-place mark in the 1,600 last week.

In the field events, Demon freshman Chris Benson is a medal favorite in the high jump, long jump and triple jump events. Last week Benson won the high jump (6-0) and took third in the triple jump (40-6 1/2).

Other area challengers for medals include Rifle’s James Alderson and Roaring Fork senior James Leonard in the jumps.

The Bears’ Andrew Stone should contend in the shot put and discus. Basalt’s Hank Kindell and Glenwood’s Ryan Erickson could also be a force in the shot and discus, respectively.

Action gets under way with the first running and field events at 8:30 a.m.

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