Post Independent Sports Editor
GRAND JUNCTION — Coal Ridge High School’s boys track and field team took some time to celebrate it’s team title at the Class 3A Western Slope League Regional track and field meet Saturday at Stoker Stadium.
The Titans didn’t take too long to celebrate, though. They already have something else they’re looking forward to.
“It’s nice to be part of a team that won a league title,” said Coal Ridge’s Jorge Hernandez, who anchored the Titans’ winning 4×400-meter relay team. “But we still have a lot to accomplish.”
Not that the Titans didn’t accomplish a lot during Saturday’s meet. They won 11 events and finished second in three others, helping Coal Ridge claim its first team championship in the regional meet in school history.
That kind of performance has left the team pretty optimistic about the upcoming state meet, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.
“Right now we’re healthy and optimistic, and this was a big stepping stone for us,” Coal Ridge coach Ben Kirk said. “Right now we’re in a pretty good spot.”
Coal Ridge tallied a first-place point total of 195, easily outdistancing second place Cedaredge (123) and Gunnison (100). On the girls side, Cedaredge took first with 187, with Gunnison (129), Moffat County (113) and Coal Ridge (94) following.
Hernandez also won the 100 meters in 11.26 seconds and the 200 in 22.68. The Titans swept the relay events, and also got victories from Andy Bowles in the 300 and 110 hurdles.
In all, though, the Titans felt they were pacing themselves for the biggest meet off the year later this week. Still, they knew what their goal this weekend was.
“We know we have a target on our backs with everybody else gunning for us,” said Coal Ridge’s Chris Contrearas, who was also part of the Titans’ winning 4×400 relay team. “We came in ready to compete and ready to get down to business, and got it done.”
Coal Ridge’s girls team had its share of success, also. Amber Bowles won the 100 hurdles (16.26) and 300 hurdles (46.54), and the Titans won the 4×400 relay and were second in the 4×800 relay. Some of those relay team members made the trek down to Grand Junction to run in the 4×400 after playing in the girls soccer team’s 4-0 state playoff victory over Faith Christian earlier in the day.
Roaring Fork got a standout performance from Taila Howe, who finished third in the 200 in 27.29, and won the long jump with a leap of 17-1 on Friday.
In the Class 4A meet, Glenwood Springs managed the best team finish among area schools with a third-place point total of 114, with first-place Battle Mountain (194) and Eagle Valley (145) finishing ahead. On the boys side, Eagle Valley took the team title with 232 points, with Palisade (109), Glenwood (104) and Rifle (87) following.
The performance of the day came from Glenwood’s Auston Tribble in the 300 hurdles, which he won in 40.43, just ahead of teammate Kaden Weller (41.24). His time was hampered, however, when he tripped over the last hurdle and did a summersault on his follow through, yet still finished first by a wide margin.
“I took a completely different strategy this time,” Tribble said. “I went out hard but relaxed around the corner before giving it all I had down there. I was actually going a little faster than I usually do, and I just got too close to it. It worked out, though.”
Tribble joined Garret Goodstein, Evrett Marr and Keden Weller in winning the 4×400 in 3:27.54. Travis Alderson won the 100 in 11.09, Rachel Orosz won the 100 hurdles in 16.76, and Ally Tapp squeaked out a win in the 100 in 12.98 to nip Palisade sprinter Angela Gordon (13.00). Glenwood’s boys 4×100 also won, posting a winning time of 43.30, which was .01 seconds off the school-record time it posted at the Montrose Invitational last month.
Rifle had some standout performances, too.
Aaron Wagler won the 400 meters in 50.27 seconds. Joey Kuheim won the discus with a throw of 132-05, easily beating Kenzie Nelson-Buehler of Glenwood (121-4). Brayden Smith had a career day in the shot put, posting a mark of 48-0 that was a personal-best put by close to two feet.
“There were some mental things with breathing that I started doing close to two weeks ago, and they’ve really helped,” Smith said. “I started putting out marks like that in practice a while ago, but this is the first time I’ve done it in a meet. It was great today.”
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