Pieces come together for invitational | PostIndependent.com

Pieces come together for invitational

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” After a meager turnout at last year’s Demon Invitational, Glenwood Springs track and field coach Blake Risner began receiving phone calls.

Parents were the ones punching in Risner’s digits, parents wanting to know what it’d take for the Demon Invitational to become a state pre-qualifier.

In recent years, many schools have passed on the Demon Invite, which turned 29 on Saturday and had never before met pre-qual criteria.

Without a pre-qualifying designation, Class 2A and 3A athletes who met state standards in their events at the Demon Invite would have nothing to show for it.

Class 4A and 5A athletes, who now advance to state based on intricate rankings systems, would have been in the same boat. Top-notch times or marks would not be recognized in those statewide rankings.

So Risner decided to do something about it.

“I wasn’t planning on running a qualifier any time soon,” Risner said. “We had enough of them on the Western Slope. After the poor turnout at the Demon Invitational last year, parents started calling me the week after asking, ‘What can we do to help make this a state qualifier if that’s what it’ll take to make this a bigger meet?'”

With plenty of support, Risner began putting the pieces together.

A lot of pieces.

Thousands of dollars in fancy timing equipment and hundreds of dollars worth of wind gauges are needed to meet CHSAA’s pre-qual standards. Equipment that ensures the most accurate of times.

Two of the parents who rang Risner in the aftermath of 2008’s Demon Invite ponied up the cash for wind gauges and the coach talked West Grand High School into renting out its timing equipment. Risner and assistant coach Mike Kishimoto also had to take a class to become certified officials.

All were hoops worth jumping through.

The 2009 version of the Demon Invitational boasted a 20-team field, a welcome sight after last year’s 10-team turnout.

Unfortunately for Risner and company, Saturday’s poor weather kept the Demon from running completely free of hitches. Rain knocked a timing camera out of commission and kept about half the day’s events from meeting pre-qual standards.

Even if the day didn’t pass free of glitches, the Demons did enjoy their added company.

“It makes me feel better about how we did as a team,” junior Wyatt Israel said. “We had more competition and we still performed just as well.”

Risner hopes to keep the Demon a state qualifier going forward. The benefit proved to be worth the legwork.

“It’s really nice,” Glenwood senior Kellen Fockler said. “There wouldn’t be as many teams. It’s nice to get all these teams here and have more people to compete with.”

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