Depth not a problem for Bear tracksters
RIFLE – It appears the elements of success have come together for the Rifle boys and girls track team.
Team depth, along with an abundance of returning lettermen on both squads gives the Bears an edge they have lacked in the past. And Rifle is anxious to put those factors to the test at Saturday’s season-opening meet at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.
“We’re going to compete to the best of our ability. That’s my philosophy for all our meets,” said Rifle head coach Justin Price. “We’re going to go for it, and we’ll see what we can do.”
The numbers are down this year, but Rifle still has a commanding presence with a 78-member roster, which consists of 36 boys and 42 girls.
Leading the Bears are three returning state placers.
Seniors Michael Birdsley and David Suminski give the Rifle boys a strong foundation in the sprints.
Birdsley, who took fourth place in the 400-meter dash at last year’s Class 4A state meet, is already running at the same pace at which he concluded last season, according to Price.
The coach said Birdsley clocked a 52.5 in a scrimmage meet last week. He will also see action in the 200 and run a leg in either the 4×100 or 4×400 relay.
Suminski, a ninth-place finisher in the 200 at state, returns to that role this year. Price said Suminski could also be used in the 100 and 400 and some relay events.
Price also got a surprise and a boost with junior Troy Weiss’ coming out for track.
The coach said the all-state football player will be used in the 100 as well as the long and high jumps.
Other key returnees include junior Brian Hileman (relays), sophomore Jordon Robinson (400 and 800 meter runs, 4 x 800 relay) and senior Ryan Gilbert in the shot put.
The girls will be anchored by senior Terena Leuallen, who raced to a fourth-place medal in the state 100 and eighth in the 200.
Additional help comes from Ali Little, a junior from the girls’ soccer team, who will run in either the 100, 200 or 400 individually and the sprint relays.
Others slated for action in the girls’ sprints and relays include seniors Brooke St. Pierre and Kristina Dahlin along with sophomore Amber Canard.
Juniors Jessica Warwick and Krista Wagstrom, along with Lindsey McCue-Locke have been tabbed as middle-to-long distance runners for the Bear girls.
Senior Amanda Bingham returns as Rifle’s No. 1 shot-putter as does junior Kari Wiig in the discus.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.