Cody Palmer learned first hand the variables of the state track meet from year to year in the field events.
"If I would have jumped this well as I did in the long jump last year, I would have won," he said. "Then I jumped worse in the triple jump and finished better."
Palmer finished the state meet in fourth in each event after a fifth in the long jump and eighth in the triple last year. The Moffat County High School junior scored 12 of the Bulldogs' 15 1/3 points at the meet, but was not happy about the results.
"Going into the long jump, I thought if I was in the 22s I'd be at least second," Palmer said, after entering the meet with the top jump in Class 4A of 22 feet, 7 inches. "Those guys improved more than me so I just have to keep getting stronger and faster to get them."
Palmer went into the final jump in third in the long jump but was passed by Mullen's Ryan Harris on his final jump. The top three finishers were in the 23-foot range and Widefield's Paul Hubbard, the returning state champion, missed the state record of 23 feet, 11 inches by half an inch.
"I will say it's an honor to get fourth in the event," he said. "Three guys in one high school division jumping in the 23's is pretty amazing."
In the triple jump, Palmer jumped more than 43 feet last year for his eighth-place finish but went into this year's final jump in third at 22 feet, 10 inches. Once again he was passed in the final jumps to get knocked down to forth.
"Everybody looked flat in the triple," said coach Vicki Haddan. "It may have been because it was the second day like the long jump last year and everybody was a little tired."
Immediately after his final jump in the triple, Palmer joined his teammates on the 400 relay team for finals. The team had run an individual best in the preliminary and went into the final with the sixth-fastest time. Daniel Tague, Trey Gorham and Shea Carr all said they felt like they had a great race in the final but the team was unable to better its time from the day before. They earned an eighth-place finish.
"We have something to be proud of because we were the highest placing relay team for the boys," Gorham said. "But I think we felt we could have done better considering Rifle was fourth."
The Bulldogs finished second behind Western Slope Conference foes Rifle at the regional meet and had a faster time in the prelims at state.
The state meet didn't mark the end of the chances for the 4x100 as all members return next year, which is the same for the 11th-place 3,200 relay team.
With a season best of 8:16, Drew Lyon, Kelvin Grinolds, Anthony Loughran and Derek Duran learned what it will take next year.
"State is so much different because everybody goes out so fast," said Grinolds, who led off for the team. "The first 400 felt like I was running the open four instead."
All four expressed an interest to run against Front Range teams next year to prepare them more for a state atmosphere.
"We need to learn how to go out and stay with the top teams," Duran said. "We were so used to keying off Montrose. Having other teams there wasn't what we were used to."
Despite not finishing where they wanted, the team was looking ahead.
"This was a good building season for us," Lyon said.
"We'll have the school record by the third meet next year," Grinolds added.
In the high jump, Brad Hurd couldn't overcome a problem with his ankle during his attempts at 6 feet, 3 inches.
"My ankle rolled on all three jumps," he said. "It didn't hurt, but it obviously didn't help my jumps."
Hurd made it over the first three heights with one attempt each but went out at 6 feet, 3 inches and finished in a tie with last year's state champion.
"I can't be as mad as him," he said. "He won last year and I didn't make opening height and we both went out at six-two."
In other events for the Bulldogs, Loughran ran a personal best in the 800 of 2 minutes, .95 seconds and finished 13th. Tague and Aaron Sanchez earned state experience in the 110 and 300 hurdles respectively, but did not make it to the finals. Not too many worries for them though -- they have a chance to return next year, just as all of the MCHS qualifiers do.
"You never know about injuries but we have everybody returning next year," coach Gary Tague said. "I'm happy with this year's results but it's hard not to look forward to next year already."