Moffat County’s track team is entering the home stretch of its season, and many athletes are looking to hold on to or earn a state qualification.
According to Colorado High School Activities Association rules for track and field, the top 18 athletes or teams in a given event qualify for the state meet preliminaries. Moffat County has several runners and relay teams that look to be comfortably in the top 18, but a host of others will be fighting to sneak into the state group or hold off their closest competitors and stay in.
With just two meets left in the season for the Bulldogs, every aspect of the events — from starts in the races to perfect form in the field — feels especially important. Because of that, the athletes are focusing on specific events.
“This weekend, we’re really focusing on the relays on the guys side,” head coach Todd Trapp said. “The 4x1, 4x2 and 4x4 are all right there. Other teams are going to be dropping time, so we’ve got to drop time.”
The sprint relays and a couple of open events will be key for the boys. In the boys 100, Kelly Campbell has the 11th-best time in the state, but there’s only about 0.2 second between him and 18th place. Alan Flores currently sits 23rd in the state, less than a tenth of a second behind the final qualifying spot. Campbell is 0.2 second away in the 200, and the Bulldogs currently sit 14th in the 4x100, 15th in the 4x200 and 20th in the 4x400, needing less than a second to get into the top 18.
“We need better handoffs,” Campbell said about the relays. “That’s really where all our maintenance has been, is with the handoffs.”
Campbell is running the 200 this weekend in addition to relays and said he needs to have good starts and finish the right way to have success in the individual races.
Kayla Pinnt, Lauren Samuelson and Leah Kalik all would need to drop two to three seconds to set a good qualifying time in the individual 400.
In the distance events, Eryn Leonard will run her first 3,200 of the season this weekend, with plans of hitting a state-qualifying time. Leonard will need to run about 12:25 or faster to put herself in good position.
It is important to keep improving, Trapp said, because the weather is at its best of the season, and runners across the state also will be dropping the times.
“Anyone who’s on the borderline right now, if you’re not dropping (time), you’re going to be out,” he said. “You’re never safe, especially this time of the year.”
In field events, several Bulldogs need a bit more distance to reach the qualifying standard.
Miguel Cruz cleared 6 feet in high jump at the junior varsity meet Thursday in Grand Junction. Duplicating that effort in a varsity meet would give him a great shot at making it to Denver.
In the long jump, Ary Shaffer needs to increase her best jump by about 6 inches, and Matt Hamilton needs 4 inches to crack the state group.
Emily White and Nicole Sollenberger are in the top 40 in discus this season, and a throw of 100 feet would move them into the state competition for the time being. On the boys side, Gaven Spears and Dylan Villa are in a similar situation, each needing just a couple feet to reach the top 18.
Coach Lance Scranton said it will require a big throw to make it, but the recent weather has benefited the Bulldogs greatly.
“With the warmer weather, we’ve been climbing as far as PRs (personal records),” Scranton said. “We’ve been able to get more reps in the ring, and the last couple weeks have been really good. We need more of that.”
Moffat County competes at the Tiger Invitational on Friday and Saturday at Colorado Mesa University before the Western Slope League meet May 10 and 11, also at CMU.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org