GRAND JUNCTION -- For 24 consecutive years, Moffat County High School boys track coach Gary Tague has attended the state track meet. On each of those trips he's gone with his trademark mustache.
Thanks to his son, Daniel, coach Tague will be applying sun block to his bare upper lip for the first time at a state meet this year.
"I'm almost as excited that I get to go as that he has to shave," said Daniel Tague after finishing third in the 110-meter hurdles at the regional meet. "It's exciting because this was my first year over hurdles and I made it to state."
Coach Tague told Daniel he would shave for the first time in 16 years if his son made the top three in the race. Coach Lance Scranton added shaved legs to the bet for a hurdler who they weren't sure would even make the finals.
"I knew going in if I ran my race as aggressive as I did over the first two hurdles in prelims, I could get top three," the sophomore hurdler said. "It was a great race for me."
Tague was one of 11 Bulldogs to qualify for next week's state meet at Jeffco Stadium in Denver. Moffat County finished third in the meet with 105 points behind Rifle's 120 and Montrose's 157.
"We didn't really load it up like we could have for team points," coach Tague said. "Next year will be the year to go after the regional title. This year, I focused mainly on getting guys qualified for state."
The MCHS boys brought home three first-place ribbons with Cody Palmer winning the long and triple jumps and Brad Hurd in the high jump. Palmer set the school record in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 7 3/4 inches.
It appeared Palmer was going to bring home another blue ribbon in the 100 after he crossed the finish line in the front of the pack. But with a close finish, the timers had him in third place; a result he disagreed with and the junior expressed that opinion to the timers with some choice words after the race.
"I felt I had won the race but with hand time they had me third," he said. "Usually they can go to the AcuTrack to double check the hand times but for some reason it didn't work. That shouldn't happen at a big meet and that's why I got mad."
Race officials disqualified Palmer, who had the fastest time in the preliminaries, for his outburst after the race.
Without the disqualification, Palmer would have been the only boys runner to qualify in four events. Instead, he joins three other Bulldogs to make it in three.
Hurd, who tied the school record of 6 feet, 4 inches in the high jump for the second time in the season, added third place in the long jump and ran a leg on the third-place 1,600 relay team.
"I jump well at this track," he said. "Hopefully I can go after the school record on the big track at state."
Anthony Loughran followed up a third-place finish and personal best of 2:02.05 in the 800 Friday with two qualifications in the 4x800 and 4x400 relay teams Saturday.
Another triple qualifier for the Bulldogs was Kelvin Grinolds.
The middle distance runner made it in the 4x800 and 4x400 relay teams and earned a trip in the 400 after Rifle's Mike Birdsley was
disqualified for stepping out of his lane.
The Bulldogs qualified three of four relay teams for the next weekend. The 3,200 relay team of Drew Lyon, Loughran, Grinolds and Derek Duran was unable to hang with Montrose and finished second. The team was disappointed after setting the goal of winning the race but looks forward to another chance at state.
"Not all of us had our best race today," Lyon said. "But at state, we'll have a chance to go after Montrose again and go after the school record."
The 400 relay team of Tague, Shea Carr, Trey Gorham and Palmer survived two poor handoffs to finish second.
The 1,600 relay team of Grinolds, Loughran, Rowan DuBois and Hurd held on to finish third with a seasonal best of 3:37.22.
"Derek Duran is the first freshman in my 25 years to qualify for state and Daniel is the third sophomore," Tague said. "I can't say I'm surprised because I expected to see us get all three relays to state."
Aaron Sanchez was the other Bulldog to qualify in an individual event with a second-place finish in the 300 hurdles.
Tague hopes to see the improvements continue next weekend at the state meet.
"For us to score some points, we'll need to see some improvements," he said. "If Palmer continues to long jump like he has been, he'll have a chance to be our highest finisher."
The Bulldogs will leave Thursday for the state track meet in Denver Friday and Saturday.