The winning wager

Friendly bet helps boys relay team place at state

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— It took some effort to get Malcolm Hillewaert out for track.

Moffat County coach Gary Tague talked to him all school year about going out. Tague also told some of Hillwaert's friends who were throwers on the track team that if they got him to come out, he'd buy them a meal.

The throwers came through and on Saturday at the Class 4A Colorado State Track Championships, Hillewaert teamed up with senior Derek Duran, and juniors Jeremy Bird and Sam Weeldreyer to set the school record in the 1,600-meter relay twice.

The second time, Hillewaert and Duran broke the 50-second barrier in the 400 meters to lead the team to sixth place.

"It cost me about 20 bucks to feed the throwers," Tague said. "That was a pretty good deal if you ask me."

All four Bulldogs ran personal bests in the finals to combine for a time of 3:23.11. Their time was more than two seconds faster than what they ran in the preliminaries Friday and four seconds faster than the school record set in 2000.

"We wanted to run about what we ran yesterday," Weeldreyer said. "I don't think we expected to run two seconds faster."

Throughout the race, the Bulldog team was placed anywhere from fifth to eighth. When Duran received the baton from Hillewaert, he was in seventh place, but another runner passed him on the backstretch. Down the homestretch, he passed two runners to finish sixth.

"It went so fast, I wasn't even thinking about what place I was in," Duran said. "I had some left, and I felt like I finished well."

Duran and Bird ran in the 800 less than two hours before the relay. The coaches had junior Andrew Drake ready to run if either of the 800 runners were too tired. Neither wanted to give up their spot.

"They went in focused," Tague said. "I knew they could run better, but oh my, to do what they did was awesome."

The Bulldog coaches and runners were all smiles after the last event of the season.

"You have to be so happy for those guys, especially the seniors," Tague said. "It's rare that you go out on top and I think that was the case for Malcolm and Derek."

And it wouldn't have happened if not for the persistence of Tague and several throwers.

"I'm glad they convinced me," Hillewaert said. "I dreaded it for a while, but now I have a state medal to show for it."

Seeing red

Running a smart race at the state meet is a mental and physical challenge. The struggle is to not get boxed in and go out too slow, but at the same time, not let adrenaline take the runner out too fast.

Sophomore Angie Charchalis is two-for-two in running a smart 800 race in her state track career.

Charchalis positioned herself right behind the lead pack during the first lap last year and she passed five runners on the last lap to finish seventh.

This year, she sat right off the lead pack and in ninth place through the first 400.

"I knew they were going to go out fast," she said. "It was a lot like last year."

She caught one more runner on the final lap to finish eighth in a personal best of 2:20.9.

Charchalis said she used Glen--wood Springs' Melissa Buchanan as a guide for the race.

"We've raced close all year so I kept looking for red ahead of me," she said. "I could see her most of the last lap."

Buchanan, the regional champion, finished in sixth.

Charchalis has medaled four times in two years at the state meet. All of the medals have come in the 800, with two in the 3,200-relay and two in the open 800.

"I was glad to run a personal best," she said. "I hadn't ever broken 2:21, so that was good."

Freshman Alicia Nelson completed her four-event weekend with a 2:25.10 and in 11th place. She came into the meet with the 18th-best time.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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