Handfull of Springers bound for JOs | PostIndependent.com

Handfull of Springers bound for JOs

Anna Gauldin
Post Independent Intern
Justin Thompson
Staff Photo |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Twelve members of the Glenwood Springers track program competed in the USA Track and Field Colorado Junior Olympic State Championship this past week in the Denver area, contending for titles in everything from shot put and triple jump to the 1,500 meters and the pentathlon.

Five of the Springers runners finished in the top four in their respective events. That allowed them to advance to the USATF Junior Olympic Region 10 Championship, which will take place July 4 through 7 in Mesa, Ariz.

“We had a lot of personal records,” Springers coach Christine Smalley said. “It was extremely competitive, and it was a big-time learning experience. My goal is that it shows them the real competition out there. You can be a big fish in a small pond, but you can also be a small fish in a big sea. The bottom line is that they’ve got to push themselves.”

For the fourth year in a row, Bryce Risner, 12, advanced in the high jump, tying his personal record of 5 feet, 3 inches to finish third. Risner has advanced to regionals and nationals the past three years, finishing 22nd in 2010 and 2011 and moving up to fifth in 2012 with a jump of 4-9 ¼.

“High jump is my favorite for sure,” said Risner, who also competed in long jump and triple jump. “I was inspired by my dad [Blake], because in college he jumped 6-11.

“I hope to beat him,” he added with a grin.

Reid Swanson, 12, also advanced to the regional meet after finishing second in the 1,500, clocking in at 5 minutes, 36.75 seconds. His personal record heading into the weekend was 6:07, so he erased more than 30 seconds from his best time.

“I was training more before, and I was working extra hard to beat this one guy,” Swanson said. “He was wearing spikes and was just ahead of me.”

Now focused on preparing for the regional meet, Swanson said he plans to run a 5K every week with one of his parents. “Maybe two,” he added.

Justin Thompson, 13, advanced in four of the five events he competed in: 100 hurdles (second place, 17.10 seconds), triple jump (third place, 10.67 meters), shot put (fourth place, 8.2 meters) and the pentathlon (third place, 1,587 points).

“There was a lot of competition, and it pushed me more,” Thompson said. “I’m excited [for the regional meet], and I’m happy I made it.”

A.J. Crowley, also 13, advanced in the 100-meter hurdles (fourth place, 17.69 seconds) and the 200-meter hurdles (second place, 29.60 seconds). Evan Janicek, 12, also competed in the hurdles, advancing in the 80-meter race after finishing third (17.52 seconds).

“It was a lot more competitive than other meets,” said Janicek, who is participating in Springers for the first time. “My dad inspired me to do it, because he was the third-fastest in the state in high school.”

Also representing the Glenwood Springers were Isaac Toro, Larry Flores, Gavin Olson, Jacob Barsness, Alex Cutright, Rulbe Alvarado and Nicole Alvarado, the team’s sole female representative at the meet.

“Nicole ran a 68-second 400. That’s as good as some of the high school girls, but it got her 11th,” Smalley said. “It’s not that we didn’t perform. The kids were just really big out there. Talk about running with guts.”

The Springers program will continue practicing four times a week through July 3. While resurfacing of the Glenwood Springs High School track is taking place, Smalley said the team will participate in scavenger hunts, obstacle courses and equipment training, in addition to utilizing the nearby Rio Grande Bike Trail in Glenwood Springs.

After competing in the Region 10 Championship, the top five finishers in each event will qualify for the USATF Junior Olympic National Championship, held July 22 to 28 in Greensboro, N.C.

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