Makayla Johnson, left, tries to hold off her Coal Ridge opponent in the girls 1,600-meter relay last weekend in Grand Junction. The MCHS girls team had the ninth-best qualifying time in the state and will compete Friday at the state meet in Lakewood.

David Pressgrove/courtesy

Makayla Johnson, left, tries to hold off her Coal Ridge opponent in the girls 1,600-meter relay last weekend in Grand Junction. The MCHS girls team had the ninth-best qualifying time in the state and will compete Friday at the state meet in Lakewood.

Moffat County track set for state

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— The state track meet begins Thursday at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood, and with just a few days left in their season, the Moffat County track athletes are putting the finishing touches on their preparation.

Bulldogs will compete in 16 events in the 3A meet, with high expectations across the board.

MCHS state athletes

Boys

200-meter: Kelly Campbell

400-meter relay

800-meter relay

1,600-meter relay

Triple jump: Matt Hamilton

Girls

100-meter: Kayla Pinnt

200-meter: Kayla Pinnt

800-meter: Mattie Jo Duzik, Ary Shaffer

3,200-meter: Emily Womble

400-meter relay

800-meter relay

1,600-meter relay

3,200-meter relay

Long jump: Ary Shaffer

Shot put: Emily White

One area in which Moffat County’s name will be called repeatedly throughout the course of the three-day meet is the relays. Seven MCHS relays total from the boys and girls sides will take the track Thursday and Friday. On the boys side, their 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays all qualified outside the top nine, meaning they will have to improve in order to make the finals and score points Saturday.

The 400 relay snuck in at 18th-best, while the 800 team is 11th and the 1,600 team is 13th.

“We just have to run faster than we ever have before,” said Joe Selbach, who was sick and unavailable at the league meet. “The handoffs are like butter right now.”

They may be comfortable with handoffs in the 400 and 1,600 relays, but the 4x200 is a different story after the boys dropped the baton at the Western Slope League meet last week. They spent much of practice Tuesday working on those exchanges.

The girls relay teams are expected to be among the best in the state. The sprint relays each are ranked in the top four entering the meet, while the 1,600 is ninth and 3,200 relay is fourth.

Individually, Kayla Pinnt has the fastest time in the 100 and 200 and will focus on giving herself a good lane position in her preliminary races Thursday. Kelly Campbell will need to run well in order to make the finals in the boys 200, as he currently is ranked 10th coming off his best time of the season.

Some Bulldogs will look to find the form they had earlier in the season when they were at their best. Selena Hernandez had a breakthrough race in the 100-meter hurdles at the Clint Wells Invitational with a 16.62 but has not been able to match that performance since.

“I’ve been losing my momentum on the late hurdles,” she said. “I need to keep my speed up all the way through.”

Hernandez said she is looking forward to the meet but also nervous about it, especially in a pressure-filled race such as the hurdles, in which a small misstep can send a runner tumbling.

Matt Hamilton has the eighth-best distance in the state in triple jump, but it was a leap he recorded early in the season before taking time off because of injuries. Since returning to jump, he has not broken the 40-foot mark he surpassed early in the season.

But for most events, it’s not time to worry about a state championship yet. The Bulldogs’ sprinters, jumpers and throwers have to make the finals and secure a spot on the podium first.

“It’s all about making it to Saturday,” Selbach said.

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.

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