Revenge is sweet.
Last year, a young Moffat County boys track team finished one spot from qualifying for the state meet in five races. Most of that team returned a year older, a year wiser and a year faster, and they earned state berths.
Senior Derek Duran was a part of three fourth-place finishes last year. This year, he's going to state in all four of his events.
"I couldn't let anything like last year happen," he said.
Neither could the rest of the team. There were no fourth-place finishes for the Bulldogs at this year's regional meet.
The toughest fourth-place finish for Duran last year was in the 800-meter race. Montezuma Cortez's Abe McCabe was responsible for that. McCabe finished third last year. This year, Duran reversed the roles and clipped McCabe at the tape.
"Down the homestretch, I knew I was in position," Duran said. "Other than that, everything was a blur."
In the 800, McCabe, Duran, Moffat County sophomore Jeremy Bird and Battle Mountain's Conner Drum came down the homestretch within a second of each other. When the finish line video was reviewed, Bird was the regional champion, Drum was second, Duran third and McCabe was fourth. All four runners broke the two-minute barrier with 0.42 seconds separating first from fourth place.
Bird said he used his fifth-place finish in the 1,600 on Friday as inspiration during the 800.
"I got mad," he said. "I was boxed in on the second turn, and I took off from there."
Junior Andrew Drake came into the weekend with the impression that he couldn't run well in the heat because of his heat-induced poor performance last year. The heat was the same this year, but his performances weren't.
Drake qualified for his first individual performance at state by finishing third in the 200. He also anchored the 800 relay to a regional championship. He finished fourth in the 100.
"I did everything I wanted to today," he said. "It was hot, but it didn't bother me as much. It helped that this year I could coast in the prelims and then go after it in the finals."
A lack of depth kept the Bull--dogs from competing in the team race. They finished fifth with 78 team points. As expected, Eagle Valley won the meet, and the Devils finished with 122.5 points.
The Bulldogs qualified for seven events at the state meet.
"In those places where we were really close but got fourth, we were really close and got third this year," coach Gary Tague said. "A lot of the guys came back that were here last year and got better."