Relay team tops region

3,200-meter relay team's confidence justified

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Grand Junction -- Moffat County's 3,200-meter relay team walks a fine line between confidence and cockiness. And the four members know it.

"You have to have both," senior Anthony Loughran said. "Or you don't do well." Friday, the team of Loughran, seniors Kelvin Grinolds and Drew Lyon and sophomore Derek Duran broke the school record in the event, on their way to winning a regional championship in 8 minutes, 3.7 seconds. The previous mark was 8:05.34, which they set last week on the same Stocker Stadium track in Grand Junction.

Grinolds gave the Bulldogs the lead on the third leg, and Lyon pulled away from Montrose's anchor to win by nearly four seconds. The quartet said it was a goal of theirs this season to be the best 3,200-meter team in Moffat County history. For a program with a rich tradition in the 800 meters and the 3,200-meter relay, their desire to be the best provides some indication as to how confident they are in themselves and each other.

"We're always the first ones to the track and the last ones to leave," Lyon said.

Bulldogs assistant Todd Trapp, who works with the middle distance runners, said Moffat County was due to win this championship, particularly against Montrose. Last year, the Indians defeated the Bulldogs in the regional final.

Not Friday. This spring, Loughran, Duran, Grinolds and Lyon have the headbands to let others know who they are. They have the post-race shoulder brush, imitating what they do to opponents. Now, they have a regional championship.

"Last year, Montrose was exactly the same way we are this year," Duran said.

Friday, Loughran led off with a 2:01 split. Duran followed with a 2:00 leg. Grinolds gave the Bulldogs the lead after his 2:01 split, and Lyon pulled away, capping off his 1:59 split time.

The two-day regional meet, the last stop before the state meet, began Friday with the 3,200-meter relay. While the Moffat County boys wasted little time making a statement during their run, the Moffat County girls led off with the day's first championship.

The quartet of Mari Katherine Raftopoulos, Emily Sperl, Ashlee Hafey and Angela Nelson ran a 10:07.33 to edge out runner-up Rifle. Sperl, in her first season of high school track, followed up her 800-meter run with a state-qualifying, second-place finish in the 1,600 in 5:28.60. Steamboat Springs' Jennifer Hooper won in 5:28.46. Bulldogs coach Vicki Haddan was impressed with Sperl's run.

"She has the flu and is on antibiotics for a sinus infection," Haddan said. "She went out and gutted it out."

Jeremy Bird finished seventh in the 1,600 in 4:51.66

In the few other finals held in Class 4A on Friday, Moffat County's Brittani Webber took second in the shot put with a throw of 35 feet, 10 1/4 inches. Webber's been eyeing the school record of 36-11 3/4 all season, Haddan said, and Webber will have a chance to break the mark next weekend in Denver. To the surprise of no one near the long jump pit, Bulldog Cody Palmer claimed his regional championship with a leap of 22-11. His teammate Brad Hurd placed fifth with a jump of 20-2 1/2, while Kyle Eitel was sixth with a leap of 19-11 1/4.

Friday was mainly a day of preliminaries, and several Moffat County runners advanced to today's event finals. Maggie Blackstun and Brandi Babin are in the 100 and 200 finals. Anna Herring will join them in the 200. Amelia Parker will run in the 400 finals, as will Duran and Grinolds. Shea Carr, Kellan Moore and Cody Palmer will run in the 100-meter finals. Daniel Tague will run in the 110-meter hurdle and the 200 finals.

Melinda Mawdsley can be reached at 871-4208 or mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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