Relays pace girls on final day of events

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The Moffat County High School girls 3,200-meter relay team stood together after its race at the state track meet looking as if it had finished last.

A fifth-place finish and a season best of 9:50.47 weren't good enough for a team that hadn't lost all season.

"Normally if we P.R. at a meet, we're going to win," said Danielle Brown. "We had a good race, it just wasn't what we hoped for."

The team of Brown, Laurel Mortensen, Kate Schafer and Angela Nelson said they didn't set a team goal before the state track meet at Jeffco Stadium but appeared disappointed in the final outcome.

"I didn't run well," Schafer said. "I went out way too fast on my first lap from the adrenaline and felt it the second lap."

Adrenaline played a part in the 400 relay team for both good and bad on the weekend. The team of Ashley Bishop, Ashlee Hafey, Jeni Jones and Brandi Babin adjusted its steps to make up for the speed created by state-meet adrenaline. The change worked for the girls on Friday as they ran a season best of 50.57 and made it into the finals.

In the final, coach Gary Tague said he thought the adrenaline and conditions helped the girls to run fast legs, but each runner receiving the baton seemed stuck to their spot.

"I think it was a combination of nerves and not being used to the girls in front of them coming in quickly," Tague said. "They all seemed to run up on the handoff and not get going quick enough."

The girls agreed.

"We adjusted our handoffs so we could get into the finals," Babin said. "It got us there, but then we weren't adjusted properly today."

The team finished eighth in the final with a time of 49.90.

"To take a second off a 400 relay is an eternity," Tague said. "Just to get into the finals was an accomplishment."

Mortensen's open 800 was the highlight for the girls team as she kicked down the home stretch to catch Tanya Gaurmer of Westminster for the state title.

"She ran a great race," said coach Todd Trapp. "I told her to go out with the leader and then take off with 300 left because we knew not many had Laurel's kick."

While the pre-race plan worked, it was also the plan of Gaurmer, and for the first 150 meters it looked like she was the one who had the better kick.

"I didn't think Laurel could catch her with about 200 left because the leader also kicked at the same time," Trapp said. "Then on the homestretch I saw her move out to the second lane to pass and Laurel had it won."

Mortensen's time of 2:16.25 broke the school record, previously held by her sister, Emily.

"I knew that 2:16 would be competitive for first," Mortensen said. "That was my goal all year to run that time."

In the high jump, Jones set a goal as well -- to clear 5 feet. The senior made that goal but was unable to get over 5 feet, 1 inch and went out with five other jumpers at five feet. She finished in a tie for 10th place.

"Jeni made up her mind that she was going to clear five and she did it," said coach Vicki Haddan. "That says something about her ability to get it done."

In other finals, Brown and Mortensen finished 10th and 13th respectively in the 1,600, while Brown and Sheila McNicol finished 11th and 15th in the 3,200.

Babin was unable to make it out of the qualifying rounds of the 100 and 200 and will return for her senior year with a state competition experience.

"All year the girls gave it all they had," Haddan said. "We graduate some great girls but have some great ones returning to make it interesting next year as well."

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