Rifle girls garner regional honors

Phil Sandoval

GRAND JUNCTION – A sure bet at a track meet is rare. Unless, its Rifle High’s track teams.

The Bears were expected to do well at this weekend’s Class 4A Western regional meet, which wrapped after two days of competition on Saturday at Stocker Stadium.

And Rifle delivered on its promise.

The Bear girls were crowned as this year’s regional champion, winning the team title with 1451⁄2 points to Palisade’s 1261⁄2.

The boys were almost as good. Rifle scored 120 points for a second-place finish, bested only by Montrose, who earned the boys’ crown with 157 points.

To Rifle head coach Justin Price, the final results from the weekend “were all good.”

“There were a lot of good things that happened and we had a lot of great surprises,” Price said. “The girls took some big strides and stepped it up, and the boys did as well or better than we expected.”

Hurdler Justin Steffen was the Bears’ only double-individual event winner. The senior raced to a 15.29 second victory in the 110-meter hurdles and a 40.74 mark in the 300 hurdles.

Terena Leuallen netted the first-place mark on a 12.47-second run in the 100 meters.

Rifle’s other girls winner was Jennifer Schneider, who took honors in the long jump with a mark of 15-81⁄2.

The bulk of Rifle’s points came in the relays. Along with gutsy efforts from other Bears.

Andrew Stone’s win in the shot put was unexpected, but not out of the sophomore’s reach, according to Rifle’s throws coach Stacey O’Dell.

“Andrew’s a hard working kid and has a lot of potential,” said O’Dell. “You can see the strength is there.”

Stone used all that strength for a throw of mammoth proportions.

His 44-foot, 41⁄2-inch throw was two feet beyond his previous best.

The boys 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams won their respective events. The girls relay teams were in step as well, responding with victories in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.

Overall, Rifle had 19 athletes advance to next week’s 4A state meet in Lakewood. The top three finishers at the regional meet qualify for state.

A contingent of 10 boys will join Steffen, who had prequalified in the low hurdles, at state. Likewise, six Bear girls have been added to the participant’s list along with prequalifiers Amanda Bingman (shot put), Kristina Dahlin (long jump) and Jessica Warwick (3,200 meters).

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