Riley shrugs off pulling double duty at state track and field meet
Entering Friday and Saturday’s Class 4A state track and field meet as the Western Regional triple jump and 400-meter dash champion, Connor Riley was ready for a busy two days.After taking seventh in the 400 prelims on Friday and qualifying for the finals, the Glenwood Springs junior was scheduled to compete in both the 400 final and triple jump prelim and final on Saturday. Things were looking good. Who wouldn’t be happy with being in two events in the final day of the state track meet?Then there was a problem – the triple jump was scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. and the 400 final was set for 1:15 p.m. Despite the guaranteed overlap, Riley welcomed the day bound and determined to do both.So as the clock rolled around to 12:30 p.m., Riley camped out by the triple jump pit. As the seventh jumper in the 21-athlete field, Riley had plenty of time to complete his first jump.So the 6-foot-3 blonde-haired Demon dashed down the asphalt strip at Jefferson County Stadium and using his long legs, leaped 42 feet and 5.75 inches. The jump was 14 of an inch better than his personal record of 42-5.5, which he equaled in winning the Western Regional Championship.Then a loud voice came over the speaker at the stadium, “First call for the boys 400-meter dash final.” Riley quickly ran across the infield and into the check-in tent to reserve his spot in the race. With 14 jumpers still waiting for their first jump and six more scheduled to do their second before it was his turn, he had plenty of time. After checking in for the 400, Riley had time to relax before his second jump. When the triple jump official called his name, he turned in a 42-01 bound. With a mark four inches shorter than his first, Riley was hoping the 42-05.75 mark would hold up until he could complete his third jump.After watching a few more jumpers, the clock was approaching 1:15 p.m. Riley didn’t have enough time to wait for his third jump to come around the cycle again. So he talked to the official, who allowed him to take his final jump early so he could race in the 400 in just a few moments.So Riley geared up again and this time hurled his body 42-5.75 again, matching his first leap. Without knowing if he’d made the top-10 finals cut or not, Riley left the triple jump pit and headed to the 400 starting line.Riley dashed across the track in one of the most dreaded events – one that is too short to pace yourself and too long for an all-out sprint. He finished ninth and his time of 52.04 was almost a second and a half slower than his seventh-place prelim time on Friday. With his focus having to shift from triple jump and the 400 in the blink of an eye and lots of his energy spent running back and forth between the events, it’s a wonder he didn’t finish 10 seconds slower.Riley wasn’t discouraged by the bad timing of his events; instead, he was rather optimistic after completing both.”There’s always next year,” he said.With the state track meet changing formats in 2009 as all four classifications will be competing at JeffCo Stadium, next year could be a lot better. Riley can hope for more than a 45-minute gap between his two events. If it doesn’t change and they overlap again, at least Riley’s got the routine down.Contact Joelle Milholm at 384-9124 firstname.lastname@example.org
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