Bulldogs come up just short

Fourth-place finishes at regionals reduces number of state qualifiers

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— For a summary of how the second day of the regional track meet went for Moffat County, look no further than the day's last event.

The 1,600-meter relay finishes represented the overall performance for the boys and girls track teams.

During the boys' day, four was the unlucky number. A top-three finish earns a trip to state; the Bulldogs had four fourth-place finishes.

In the 1,600, relay the team of sophomores Andrew Drake and Sam Weeldreyer, junior Derek Duran and senior Rowan DuBois finished fourth by what else but .04 of a second.

"I don't like the number four," coach Gary Tague said. "The league was tougher this year and we're young. We had some guys not qualify who we expected to go."

As the Rifle boys team ran its victory lap, Duran and Drake watched after their exhausting legs on the 1,600 relay.

"For me it serves as motivation for next year," said Duran, who was a victim of three fourth-place finishes. "There were just faster kids today."

Drake was disappointed in his Saturday.

"I didn't run well in the heat," he said of temperatures that reached 90 degrees. "I should have gone in all four events I competed in."

Instead Drake will be going in one event. The 800-relay was the highlight of Saturday for the Bulldogs.

Drake, Weeldreyer, DuBois and senior Daniel Tague finished second. At the finish line Drake and Glenwood Spring's Dustin Braeger were about as close as it can get. The Demons won the photo finish by three-hundredths of a second.

"If we have a good handoff with Daniel and Sam, we win," coach Tague said. "It was Daniel's first time on the relay this year so they should get that down by next week."

Daniel Tague had two fourth-place finishes -- one in the 400 relay and the other in the 110 hurdles. He ran a personal best of 15.66 in the hurdles but was .13 seconds out of third.

"My form wasn't there," he said while showing scrapes on his knee from hitting hurdles. "With Eagle Valley in the league, it raised the level this year."

Eagle Valley has returning state champion Brad Gamble, who won both hurdle races Saturday.

The 400-relay team of junior Jake Bilodeau, Drake, Weeldreyer and Tague was .41 seconds from third place.

The 3,200 relay of sophomores Jake Miller and Jeremy Bird, freshman Mike McNicol and Duran took fourth in one the fastest 4x800s in the history of the region. Three teams, Battle Mountain, Montezuma Cortez and Steamboat Springs all ran less than 8:10 while the Bulldogs finished in 8:19.89.

Miller's qualification in the 3,200 Friday and the 800-relay team will be the only boys going to state.

On the girls' side, the 1,600-relay team of freshman Angie Charchalis, Jorgiea Raftopoulos, junior Anna Herring and senior Angela Nelson got edged out by Palisade and Delta on the final home stretch. With that finish, Palisade moved ahead of the Bulldogs by one point to take third place in the meet.

The good news for the girls is that they are still going to state.

"We ran well but we were a step behind the top teams all day," girls coach Vicki Haddan said. "The four-by-four told the story of the day."

Seniors Emily Sperl and Amelia Parker were ranked first and second going into the 3,200 and 1,600. Friday they fulfilled their seeds in the 3,200. Saturday they were unable to catch Battle Mountain's Crystin Rodrick, who took off on the last lap for the win, or hold off Steamboat Spring's Jen Hooper on the home stretch. Sperl still qualified, but Parker was fourth.

The positives for the girls are that Sperl, Nelson and Charchalis will be competing in three events at state. All three, along with Raftopoulos, won the 3,200 relay. Steamboat made it a race through the first three legs until Charchalis pulled away the final 200 meters for a 14-second win.

"I don't think we knew if the other teams were pumped or if we were slow," said Nelson, who qualified as a member of the relay all four years of her high school career. "We didn't run a personal best, but at state we'll all be pumped. We'll all take off a couple of seconds."

The 3,200-relay team has been the regional champion for at least the last five years, according to Haddan.

The girls will be taking eight girls to state this week in Denver. "We had a tough Saturday, but despite that we're still really proud of our girls," Haddan said. "Despite the places we still had, a lot of personal bests and that's our goal in track."

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