The Moffat County High School boys track team finished three points behind Montrose at the Tiger Invitational last weekend.
Some would think that sets up a close regional track meet for the boys' title between the two teams. Bulldog coach Gary Tague doesn't think so.
"Unless we have some big surprises, Montrose is going to win pretty easily," Tague said. "Montrose hasn't had all of their studs competing at the same time all year until this weekend."
The Bulldogs have a few studs of their own who are going in as the top-ranked athletes at the regional.
Senior Cody Palmer is undefeated this year in the long and triple jumps and also has one of the top times in the 100-meter dash. Last year, he was disqualified at regionals in the 100 after arguing that he won the race when he was awarded third place.
Asked what he learned from last year, Palmer put his index finger up to his mouth and shushed.
"I just need to be quiet," he said.
Senior Shea Carr and junior Kellan Moore could join Palmer in the 100 finals if their preliminary races go well. A sprinter must finish in the top two in the preliminary race to move onto the finals.
The 3,200 relay team of senior Drew Lyon, senior Anthony Loughran, sophomore Derek Duran and senior Kelvin Grinolds improved its seasonal best time by 10 seconds last weekend and is now the second-ranked team in the state. The team likes running in Grand Junction as it has set a season-best time every meet it has run there.
The boys 400 and 1,600 relay teams also are ranked in the top three. The 400 relay team beat Rifle last week for the first time in two years. The Bears finished fourth in the state last year, and the Bulldogs were seventh.
Senior Brad Hurd also goes in with a region's best high jump of 6 feet, 6 inches.
Junior Daniel Tague also will have a target on his back as the region's best 110 high hurdler and fourth-ranked 200 runner.
In the 400, Grinolds, Duran and junior Rowan Dubois are all in the top eight and could help the team with some important points if all of them were to get into the finals.
Loughran and Lyon are expected to be chasing Montrose's Matt Patrone in the open 800 for a regional title.
The Bulldogs will be without another pre-season favorite to win a regional title in senior Aaron Sanchez, who went down in the Fruita Invitational and was done for the season.
"Aaron could have won the 300 hurdles, and it might have made the team race a bit closer," Tague said. "It's more unfortunate for him than us, though."
In the distance races, junior Pete Stamler and freshmen Jeremy Bird and Jake Miller won't necessarily be at the front of the pack but could score points for the Bulldogs. The same is true for Bird and Miller in the 3,200.
The girls' team, which had a streak of three regional titles broken last year, doesn't expect to be in the title hunt this year.
"We still could qualify quite a few athletes for state," coach Vicki Haddan said.
The 3,200 relay team of junior Emily Sperl, junior Angela Nelson, senior Ashlee Hafey and sophomore Mari Katherine Raftopoulos and junior shot put thrower Brittni Webber have pre-qualified for state.
To get to state, an athlete must finish in the top three at regionals if they haven't already reached the pre-qualifying standard.
Sperl has the region's best time in the 1,600 and Nelson and Raftopoulos are in the top three of the 800.
Sophomore Cortney Grandbouche is in a 3,200 that has six girls within 10 seconds of each other.
In the 100 and 200, Brandi Babin hopes to return to state in both events and is ranked in the top three in both races.
"I think we could also get a couple of our relays to state," Haddan said.