The Moffat County track team goes through its practice drills at the MCHS track. The Bulldogs have a number of athletes already competing for slots in the Class 3A state championship.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

The Moffat County track team goes through its practice drills at the MCHS track. The Bulldogs have a number of athletes already competing for slots in the Class 3A state championship.

Moffat track and field has many eyes set on state

Remaining track schedule

April 12 meet hosted by Grand Junction Central at Colorado Mesa University

April 19 meet hosted by Fruita Monument at Colorado Mesa University

April 26 Clint Wells Invitational at Moffat County High School track

May 3-4 Tiger Invitational at Colorado Mesa University

May 10-11 Western Slope League meet at Colorado Mesa University

In what looked like a rebuilding year going in, the Moffat County track team has looked very strong, anyway.

The team lost a strong core of distance runners on the boys side from last year, and the roster looked thin heading into the season. But some newcomers to the team on both sides have Moffat County’s coaches eyeing the state meet.

A large number of new track athletes, mostly freshmen and sophomores, came out for the team this season, which has throwing coach Lance Scranton excited about the team’s prospects.

“We have great numbers, but we’re young,” Scranton said. “It’s great that these kids are willing to come out. It’s still early in the season, so a lot of them are still learning events. There’s a lot of technique involved in everything.”

The Bulldogs have several individuals and relay teams looking strong. Matt Hamilton has been a pleasant surprise for coaches in his first season doing track for MCHS. The sophomore has posted the third-best triple jump distance in all of Class 3A, with just a couple weeks of practicing the event under his belt. In the throwing events, Dylan Villa and Gaven Spears are leading the way the for the boys team. Both are experienced in the shot put and discus, with Spears just getting involved with the team again after starring in the high school play last week.

While the boys team had significant depth, especially in the running events last season, it is the girls team that has the depth this year, thanks to a combination of good returning runners and new faces.

“There’s kind of a switch there, where the boys were a really strong team last year but lost some great members,” coach Todd Trapp said. “This year, the girls are looking much stronger.”

Senior Eryn Leonard and sophomore Aubrey Campbell both are contenders to qualify for state in the 1600-meter run, but the girls’ sprints are where the strength appears to lie for the first time in years, Scranton said.

“We’ve got a lot of great sprinters on the girls side,” he said. “We haven’t had speed like this in a long time.”

Freshman Kayla Pinnt has the third-best time in the 100-meter and is second in the 200 in 3A so far. Sophomore Lauren Samuelson is just outside the state qualifying in the 200 at 19th, and is ninth in the 400. The sprint relays for the girls also are looking at state-qualifying times so far.

Another pleasant surprise for the Scranton has been freshman Emily White, whose 90-foot discus throw at the Bulldogs’ last meet is 16th best in 3A.

“She’s just come in and done a great job,” Scranton said. “Everything I’m saying, she’s listening to and following, and she’s throwing great.”

Moffat County has not been among the best teams at any meet it has attended so far, but that is by virtue of the competition it faces. The Bulldogs go to meets in Grand Junction and see mostly 4A and 5A schools. Scranton knows when it comes time to go against all 3A athletes, this team is oozing potential.

“We got against 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A in all our meets,” he said. “So if you put a line through all the 5A, 4A and 2A schools, we’ve done very well every time.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com

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