Bulldogs emerge from the shadows

Runners take the lead in regional championship

Grand Junction -- Moffat County senior Drew Lyon was tired of running in shadows.

Instead of hanging back in the 800-meter regional championship Saturday, Lyon surged to the lead and dictated the race, using the clock, rather than the other runners, as his competition.

Lyon finished in 2 minutes, 0.52 seconds to defeat Montrose's Matt Patrone, a nemesis for the Bulldogs' 800 runners for several seasons.

One week earlier, on the same Stocker Stadium track, Patrone and Moffat County senior Anthony Loughran finished ahead of Lyon. Saturday, with state hopes on the line, Lyon executed the perfect race at the perfect time.

"I was sort of thinking about that," Lyon said of finishing third at the Tiger Track Invitational. "Instead of racing (Saturday), I was going for time. I got out front and out-kicked (Patrone) ...In past years, I've been shadowed by others. I decided this year I wanted to go out on top."

Loughran came in fourth with a 2:02.49. The top three finishers in each event qualify for state unless they have pre-qualified.

The 800 meters, be it in the open form or in the form of the four legs of the 3,200-meter relay, was Moffat County's distance at regionals. After winning both 3,200-meter relays Friday, Lyon and junior Angela Nelson won both individual 800 races Saturday.

Nelson's win was even closer than Lyon's. She edged past Steamboat Springs sophomore Tara King on the final turn and outlasted King to the finish line. Nelson won in 2:21.68. King crossed in 2:21.70.

Lyon, Loughran and Nelson added a third event to their state meet slate when the boys' and girls' 1,600-meter relay teams capped off the Class 4A regional meet with top three showings.

The girls' team of Nelson, Brandi Babin, Ashlee Hafey and Anna Herring placed second in 4:08.86 to qualify. The boys' team of Loughran, Lyon, Kelvin Grinolds and Brad Hurd placed third in 3:33.23, despite dropping the baton on the exchange between the third and fourth legs.

The dropped baton managed to stay in the Bulldogs' lane, so they were allowed to pick it up and continue. After what seemed like an eternity, otherwise known as several seconds in track, Hurd grabbed the baton and took off, coming from near the back of the pack to anchor his team to third.

Grinolds also qualified in the 400, taking third in 52.05. This season, Grinolds said his 400 times have been slowed because of the focus on his 800 leg of the 3,200-meter relay.

"All this week, we'll be doing speed work so that will help," he said.

As expected, Cody Palmer and Daniel Tague picked up regional championships Saturday. Palmer went in as the favorite in the long and triple jumps.

He followed up his long jump win Friday, with a leap of 44 feet, 10 3/4 inches to win the triple jump Saturday. Palmer also qualified for state in the 100 meters, finishing third in 11.35.

Tague entered the regional meet and Saturday's event finals as the top seed in the 110-meter hurdles. After a surprise third-place finish at state last season, he is eyeing an equally impressive finish this year.

"Hurdles didn't come naturally," he said. "It was a lot of work during the winter on the third floor at the high school."

Before Babin qualified for state in the 1,600-meter relay, she took third in the 100 and 200 meters to earn a spot in the state field. Babin is a four-time state qualifier.

Moffat County's 400-meter relay team of Babin, Hafey, Maggie Blackstun and Brittni Kawcak also qualified third in 52.31.

The boys followed up with a second-place finish in 44.29. Team members are Tague, Palmer, Shea Carr and Kellan Moore.

Hurd placed second in the high jump, clearing 6-2.

In addition to those placing in the top three, the Bulldogs had a host of other athletes perform well enough to finish in the top eight to score points for their respective teams.

Blackstun placed in the100 and 200 meters. Herring also placed in the 200. Derek Duran was seventh in the 400. Mari Katherine Raftopoulos was fifth in the 800. Amelia Parker was eighth in the 400.

Parker also teamed up with Blackstun, Stephanie Urbanoski and Herring to take fourth in the sprint medley.

The boys' 800-meter relay team of Chris James, Rowan Dubois, Kyle Eitel and Andrew Drake was seventh.

Cortney Grandbouche was sixth in the 3,200. Teammate Jeremy Bird was fifth. Stetson Otero placed fifth in the shot put, and April Sanchez placed seventh in the discus.

Urbanoski was sixth in the long jump to round Saturday's place winners.

Montrose picked up the boys' team title, while Steamboat won the girls' team race.The Class 4A/5A State Track and Field Meet begins Friday at Jeffco Stadium in Denver.

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