GRAND JUNCTION -- At last year's regional, Jeni Jones was toughing it through the meet with shin splints that her doctor said she shouldn't run on. This year, a healthy Jones was back in form, just missing a four-event qualifying performance by 6 1/2 inches.
"I really wanted to go in the long jump and triple jump," the Moffat County High School senior said. "But considering where I was last year, this was a good day."
Jones missed making it in the long jump by 1/2 an inch and six inches in the triple jump, but will be attending state to compete in the high jump and 400-meter relay.
"I just couldn't find my mark in the long jump," she said. "I had one jump that might have set the school record but I scratched."
Just as Jones missed her goal of qualifying in four events, the Bulldogs missed their goal of winning their fifth-consecutive regional tournament. Moffat County went into the second day of competition in the lead, but Rifle's depth and Palisade's throwers and hurdlers were too much in the end. MCHS finished in third with 120 points behind Rifle's 145.5 and Palisade's 126.5.
"For the most part, everybody we brought placed in at least one event," said coach Vicki Haddan. "Obviously we wanted the win, but I can't complain about their effort."
Laurel Mortensen led the Bulldogs in points scored as she won the 1,600 and 800 open races and anchored the 3,200 relay to a regional title and the 1,600 relay to third place.
"It's great for the relay teams to get to go, but I'm more excited about the individual events," Mortensen said. "It's fulfilling to win an event by yourself."
Mortensen's 2 minutes, 20 seconds in the 800 was better than 12 of the boys who ran the race, but she wasn't content with the win.
"I really wanted to run a 2:16," she said. "But I've still got state to go after that time."
Mortensen and Jones will join eight other lady Bulldogs on the trip to Denver next weekend for the state meet. Danielle Brown completed the sweep for the Bulldogs in the distance races with a win in the 3,200. She also finished third in the mile and was with Mortensen on the champion 4x800 relay team.
Moffat County qualified four of five relay teams for the state meet and if it weren't for a botched handoff in the 800 relay, all five teams would have made state.
The Bulldogs earned 24 points from their relay teams. Mortensen, Brown, Angela Nelson and Kate Schafer made up the title-winning 3,200 relay team. The 400 relay team of Brandi Babin, Jones, Ashley Bishop and Ashlee Hafey took second. The 1,600 relay team of Camillia Bird, Schafer, Hafey and Mortensen grabbed third place as well as the 800 medley team of Anna Herring, Hafey, Bishop and Bird.
Babin had a career day even with the disqualification of the 800 relay.
"This might be the most excited I've ever been," she said. "I just wanted to get in with one individual meet, I never expected two."
Babin held off two runners in a photo finish for third place in the 100. In the 200, she held off Rifle's Terena Leuallan and Ali for third place. Babin had run on a state-title relay team her sophomore year but hasn't gone to state as an individual.
"Not only was it a great day for her but it is good for Brandi's confidence in the future," Haddan said. "She had a lot of desire today and it paid off."
Haddan said she believed the Bulldogs would carry over their performances from the region to state next weekend.
"We've got some girls who could put some points on the board at state," she said. "It will be an exciting meet for us."
Moffat County will leave Thursday for the final meet of the year Friday and Saturday at Jeffco Stadium in Denver.