Titan girls dominate on Day 1 of state meet | PostIndependent.com

Titan girls dominate on Day 1 of state meet

Coal Ridge senior hurdler James Nalley flies over a hurdle during the 300m event at the state meet Saturday afternoon in Lakewood. Nalley placed eighth in the event. (ANDY BOCKELMAN / CRAIG DAILY PRESS)

After two long, grueling days of bad weather that postponed the start of the 2017 state track and field meet at JeffCo Stadium in Lakewood, local athletes finally got the chance to get onto the track Saturday morning.

In the shortened, time-based finals at the meet, the Coal Ridge Titans’ girl’s 4×200 meter relay team and the 800 sprint medley teams turned in great performances at the state meet, finishing second in both 3A events.

The relay team of junior Emily Wright, senior Dana Kotz, senior Faith Wood and sophomore Kara Morgan turned in a time of 1:51. 46 in the 800 sprint medley to start the day in the time-based final, before the relay team of Morgan, Kotz, junior Santana Martinez and Wood followed up with a second-place finish in the 4×200 relay, turning in a time of 1:45.60.

Grand Valley’s relay team of Sophomore Shaya Chenoweth, sophomore Ryley Sackett, senior Kylyn Rigsby and freshman Jordyn Pittman finished right behind the Titans’ 4×200 relay team with a time of 1:45.97, just 37 one-hundredths of a second behind Coal Ridge.

“I thought the girls did an awesome job in both races,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Ben Kirk said. “It was a season-best time for us in the 200, which is what I was hoping for. I knew they’d be able to do that if all the girls ran splits around 26 seconds, and that’s what happened. All the girls ran great splits across the board.”

While the Coal Ridge girl’s relay teams turned in strong performances one the first day of the state meet, the Titans’ boy’s 4×200 meter relay team had a good day as well.

Coming into the state meet as the No. 12 seed in the event, the Titan relay team of senior Jonathan Graf, junior Jacx Power, junior Ezequiel Contreras and senior Jonathan Espinoza placed eighth overall in the event, turning in a time of 1:32.52, jumping four spots in the meet.

However, it wasn’t a smooth race for boy’s relay team as a long handoff between Contreras and Espinoza might have been the difference between an eighth-place finish and a sixth-place finish, according to Kirk.

“The running from the boys was awesome, but there was a long handoff, so that might have cost us a few spots,” Kirk said. “We came into the meet 12th, so to get eighth was awesome. I know the boys are a bit bummed about finishing eighth, but they ran a great race minus the long handoff.”

Outside of Coal Ridge in the 3A meet, Rifle junior Sarah Wagler placed fourth in the 3200 meter run, recording a time of 11:41.02, finishing just over half a second behind Classical Academy’s Katie Flaherty in third place.

Rigsby continued to dominate in the 300 meter hurdles for the Cardinals, placing fourth with a time of 47.11 seconds, finishing a half a second out of second place in a tightly-contested event.

Coal Ridge senior James Nalley placed eighth in the boy’s 300 meter hurdles, turning in a time of 41.36 seconds, while Rifle sophomore Joel Lopez turned in a 12th-place performance with a time of 42.05, just under a second away from placing on the podium in his first trip to the state meet.

In the 4×800 relay, the Basalt team of sophomore Megan Maley, junior Jenna Curnow, junior Carly Robinson and freshman Lily Gillis placed eighth with a time of 10:10.20, while the Coal Ridge team of junior Cassandra Greene, sophomore Alyssa Wenzel, senior Gladis Sanchez and junior Paige Harlow placed 10th with a time of 10:20.14.

Wrapping things up in 3A on the first day of the state meet, Roaring Fork junior Justin Thompson, competing in the 3A long jump, turned in a fifth-place finish with a distance of 21-00.50, finishing just under five inches away out of first place.

Over on the 4A side, the Glenwood Springs Demons’ 4×200 relay teams had great days in the time-based finals, kick-starting a strong day for the Demons as a whole on the first day of the track meet.

In the 4A girl’s 4×200, Glenwood’s relay team of senior Kourtney Gasaway, junior Saylor Warren, senior Reese Prough and sophomore Sequioa Kellogg recorded a time of 1:45.84, good enough for sixth-place in a close race. Just like the girls’ relay team, Glenwood’s boy’s 4×200 relay team also placed sixth as senior Miguel Peralta, sophomore Luke Gair, freshman Kuba Bartnik and senior Ismael Villegas recorded a time of 1:31.09.

“That was a ton of fun to watch those two relay teams compete the way they did,” Glenwood Head Coach Blake Risner said. “Coming in to the race, neither relay team was in the top 9, so to get two sixths was great. We knew we needed to run either our best races of the year, or hope that some of the teams ahead of us would falter. The girls came out and ran their best race; they earned that spot. It was really fun to see them come out and run as well as they did. Same with the boys.”

In individual events for the Demons, Kellogg placed 11th in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 46.50 seconds, finishing just outside of the podium after reseeding from lane 9 to lane 1 before the start of the event. Junior Benny Smith placed 12th in the 4A 3200m run with a time of 10:01.64, while sophomore Bryce Risner placed eighth in the high jump with a height of 6-1.50.

Wrapping up the day for Glenwood was the duo of junior AJ Crowley and senior Larry Flores in the 300 meter hurdles. Unfortunately for Flores, disaster struck in the time-based finals as the senior clipped the second-to-last hurdle, falling to the track, resulting in a time of 52.84.

“There was just pure carnage in the 300 meter hurdles for all classifications,” Risner said. “It seemed like in every single classification someone was falling over a hurdle. We kept our fingers crossed hoping it didn’t happen to us, but it did. There’s no doubt that Larry was running his best race of the year up to that point, but he just hit one of the last hurdles and fell.”

As Flores dealt with the heartbreak of falling in the one-shot, time-based finals, Crowley ran a strong race, turning in a seventh-place finish with a time of 40.50 seconds.

With the state meet finally getting underway, an adjustment was needed for the local schools in attendance. Fortunately for the six schools in the valley, they seem to make the necessary adjustments to deal with the time-based finals and condensed schedules.

“It’s definitely a different feeling, at least for me, because it’s weird,” Kirk said. “But I think our kids are doing an awesome job of handing this situation that we’re in. While I think our kids are handling it well, I definitely think the new schedule has thrown the meet off as a whole.”

Risner, who’s coached in Colorado for 25 years, echoed Kirk’s comments.

“This new schedule and the way the finals are being run has really affected the entire meet,” Risner said. “Today, it seemed like a lot of kids were trying too hard and pushing too hard with just one run available to them in each event. I hope this never happens again, that’s for sure. I’ve coached here 25 years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this at the state meet. But, you know, our kids are trying to deal with it the best way that they can, and I think they’re doing a great job of handling it with great mentalities.”

The final day of the condensed two-day meet is scheduled to start today at 9:00 a.m.

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