Track’s last regional hurrah
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Before the 2008 track and field season started, the Glenwood Springs girls and boys track teams set their sights on winning team regional championships. The girls would be looking to defend their title from last year, while the boys were aiming to improve upon their fourth-place finish.
Since then, things have changed that have made them work even harder to make their dreams become realities. Earlier this spring, the Colorado High School Activities Association voted to get rid of regional track meets for the next two-season cycle.
Instead of having a big end of the regular-season meet with chances to qualify for state by finishing in the top three in each event, athletes will have to hit prequalification marks earlier in the season.
“CHSAA decided on tougher qualifying standards for state,” said Glenwood head coach Blake Risner. “What that does is, first, eliminates regionals and, second, it eliminated head-to-head competition to go to state ” which is how most sports do it for state competitions. That will make it a whole lot tougher.”
“Many of us are in opposition to it,” he continued. “We are hoping over the next two-year cycle that it makes a lot of frustration and it will be voted against next time.”
Until then, the Demons plan to make the most of their last opportunity to go for a Class 4A Region 1 team title.
“We had a goal at the beginning of the season to win both of the regional titles based on our performances last year and the kids we had coming back this year,” Risner said. “Now it is just extra incentive, added motivation to bring home those CHSAA plaques this weekend.”
Last year at regionals, the Glenwood girls edged Eagle Valley by three and a half points, giving Risner his first regional championship in his long tenure with Demons. This year, with a stacked team, from veteran distance runner Katrina Selsor to a speedy class of freshmen sprinters, to four strong relays, to triple and long jumper Theresa Gabriel, Glenwood’s girls are poised to repeat last year’s feat.
The Glenwood girls have already prequalified for state in seven events including three relays during the regular season this year. Risner thinks a bunch more girls could seal their trips to state with top performances at regionals including Gabriel, who made it to state last year as a freshman, Melissa Buchanan and Abbey Barnes in the 800, Meg Waibel and Allison Brown in the 400, Laura Young ” who has already prequalified in the 300 hurdles ” in the 100 hurdles, Kristy Moore in the 300 hurdles and Jolie Dubois in the 100 and 200 dashes.
If those things can happen, Risner believes his squad could beat out the talented Eagle Valley and Moffat County squads.
Risner is hoping his teams can pull together for top-three finishes in each boys and girls relay events. Three of the girls relays have qualified for state already, but up to two more girls squads and four boys foursomes could join them.
“If we can finish in the top three in all the relays, then that would not only qualify us for state, but also get a lot of quality points,” he said.
The Demon boys placed fourth at regionals last year, but with a deeper squad taking to the track and field this year, they are hoping for a higher finish. Leading the way is 6-foot-8 junior Donnie Jennert. Jennert has dominated the high and long jump events on the Western Slope this season. His mark of 23 feet, 8.75 inches is unmatched in 4A in Colorado. Only two long jumpers have bounded longer than Jennert this year in the state and they are from 5A schools.
In the high jump, where Jennert has cleared the bar at 6-8, he has been just as successful. He’s won meets all season long. The only other 4A high jumper to match him is Alamosa’s Jordan Reeves.
Outside of Jennert, Dakota Stonehouse is the only other Demon boy to prequalify for state, as the junior has merited an invitation in the 300 hurdles. Risner’s hoping Stonehouse can get a spot in the 110 hurdles as well and that Kurt Hartmann can join him in both. He would also like to see Connor Riley place in the top three in the 400 dash and triple jump.
Winning a team title won’t be easy for the boys, who will be hoping to dethrone Rifle and beat Battle Mountain.
“We think we are right there with them,” Risner said of his team’s chances against the Huskies. “If the third and fourth-place athletes step up and score, that to me will be the difference maker.”
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.