Sutherland, McKinnie snare state titles |

Sutherland, McKinnie snare state titles

Phil Sandoval

LAKEWOOD – For a team with a small roster, the Glenwood Springs girls track team finished big at Saturday’s Class 4A state track and field finals held at Jeffco Stadium.

Megan McKinnie and Amber Sutherland earned state championships and three state medals between them over two days of competition.

Overall, it was the best performance by the Demon girls in terms of titles won at the state meet since the Amy Feinsinger-led 1994 state champions.

McKinnie left Jeffco Stadium as Glenwood’s 13th girls track state champion after winning the 300 hurdles. An hour later, Sutherland became state champ No. 14 for the Demons, according to the Colorado High School Activities Association.

“I felt a little bit of relief and some excitement too,” said McKinnie, as she raised her arms in exhalation after fending off Greeley Central’s Ashley Stec for the title.

The 45.86-second final time was .09 better than McKinnie’s event-best 45.97 mark in Friday’s preliminaries. Both times eclipsed the 46.42 McKinnie posted in winning the Western regional championship last week in Grand Junction.

McKinnie’s run also left Glenwood’s supporters exhausted.

“It was so much fun to watch Megan win. I thought I was in it again” said Demon graduate Jennifer Kishimoto, a silver medalist in the same event at the 2002 state meet and state champion in 1999.

Kishimoto was one of the first to congratulate her former teammate. Instead of waiting along the fence between the bleachers and the track, Kishimoto bolted from the stands to the stadium’s infield with a huge congratulatory hug.

McKinnie said Saturday’s finals, “were pretty smooth, except for a few hurdles on the corners.”

The key to her success this year has been mental as well as physical.

“Every time, each race is pretty tough,” said McKinnie. “I just go out there and push myself.”

Sutherland also did some pushing in the discus and shot put rings. The junior had lifetime bests while finishing first and second in the events, respectively.

In Friday’s shot put competition, Sutherland ripped off a throw of 39 feet, 53⁄4 inches in the preliminary round, surpassing an earlier 38-11 toss.

The only competitor to beat the mark was returning state champ, Danielle Smith of Mullen, who earned her second straight 4A shot put title with a 41-3 throw.

“My adrenaline was pumping and I was ready for it,” said Sutherland. “I wasn’t that scared. I was just trying to relax and have fun. I figured `I’m here, let’s just go all out.’ So I was really comfortable.

“I was kind of in my own zone. I was just mainly going out there for a PR and to get the best throw I could. My coaches have been telling me that I could hit 40 and then I threw it 39 today. I know 40 is coming. It was a little short, but, that’s OK.”

In the discus, Sutherland had to be more than OK.

Squaring off against Smith again, the Demon thrower defeated Smith in her last toss in the finals. Sutherland hit a lifetime best mark of 130-7, surpassing Smith’s 129-6 throw by 11 inches.

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