Bulldogs get back on track

Grand Junction --- For the first time in two years, Brad Hurd and Laurel Mortensen stepped on the track for a race at the Palisade Invitational.

One left all they had and part of themselves on the track, the other left their name in the record book.

Hurd, who has already pre-qualified for the state meet in the high jump and placed second in the event earlier in the day, stepped in to run on the 4X400-meter relay team.

As the third leg on the team, the junior received the baton in second place. He ate up the first-place runner in the first 150 meters at a pace that was arguably faster than any 400-open runner had raced at earlier in the day. Coming down the home stretch, the quick start caught up with him and his legs locked up.

"That was the first time since my freshman year that I've raced in a meet," he said. "On the last stretch, I saw the shadow of a guy coming up on me and I tried to go but my legs stopped."

Hurd stumbled to the track, but bounced back up to finish his leg of the race.

"You can see the potential of a great 400 runner," said coach Gary Tague. "No one told him how to run the race, so he just went as hard as he could."

The relay team of Hurd, Rowan Dubois, Anthony Loughran and Kelvin Grinolds finished in sixth place. Their team finished in fifth in the meet behind one Class 4A school, Rifle.

The meet at Stocker Stadium marked Mortensen's first race since her sophomore year, when, at the state meet, she and her teammates on the 4X800 relay set a state meet record.

She combined with three different teammates, Kate Schafer, Danielle Brown and Angela Nelson, to win the same relay and set a meet record with a time of 10:12.09.

"The performance by the 4X800 team was outstanding considering Kate and Laurel had just returned on Wednesday for their first meet," said coach Vicki Haddan. "With everybody that is out for the time at a meet for the first time, it was easily our best performance."

Mortensen also won the open 800 and anchored the 4X400 team to second place.

She still wasn't satisfied.

"I ran slower in the open 800 than in the relay," she said. "I know it's my first meet but I really wanted to be faster."

Having the full squad at the meet led the Bulldogs to a tie for second with Hotchkiss behind Fruita.

The Bulldogs earned two more state qualifications with Cody Palmer in the long jump and Sheila McNicol in the 3,200. Qualifying standards are set by taking the average top-six finishes in each event from the past five years.

Palmer won the triple and long jump and is now pre-qualified in both events.

"It helps a lot to be qualified so early," Palmer said. "Now I can focus on getting in the 100 and just relax when I'm jumping."

Other winners were the girls 4X200 relay team of Brandi Babin, Schafer, Ashlee Hafey and Ashley Bishop. Babin also finished second in the 100 and fourth in the 200.

"This is the first time I've lost to (Terena) Leuallen (of Rifle) this year, but she always comes on at the end of the season," she said. "I need to figure out how to improve with her. But I did run break 27 in the 200 for the first time in my career so I was happy with that."

Overall both coaches were proud of their team's performances.

"With ACTs and proms and everything else going on right now it is really hard to measure where all the teams are right now," said coach Tague. "We had some gutsy performances today and we'll continue to build on that."

The Bulldogs have three meets this week with the JV competing in the North Park invite in Craig on Thursday and in Glenwood on Saturday and the varsity travels to Fruita on Friday.

Other placers for the Bulldogs were: 4X800 (Anthony Loughran, Drew Lyon, Kelvin Grinolds, Derek Duran), 2nd; 100 Cody Palmer, 4th; 4X100 Daniel Tague,Aaron Sanchez,Trey Gorham, Cody Palmer), 3rd; 400 Kelvin Grinolds, 5th; 300 hurdles Aaron Sanchez, 3rd; 800 Anthony Loughran, 5th; Drew Lyon, 7th; 100 Ashley Bishop,7th; 1,600 Danielle Brown, 6th; Long Jump Jeni Jones, 4th; High Jump Jeni Jones, 4th; 100 hurdles Kallie Murphy, 6th; 300 hurdles Kallie Murphy, 6th; 800 Angela Nelson, 4th.

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