Home stretch: Moffat County track makes last push for state to conclude Tiger Invite
The final stretch is in sight for Moffat County High School track and field, and Bulldogs had one final challenge before the last weekend of operation this spring.
MCHS placed ninth among boys and girls teams alike during the two-day Tiger Invitational hosted by Grand Junction, a multi-division meet leading up to the 3A CHSAA State Championships.
Adding to Emaleigh Papierski’s Friday win in the long jump, Jared Atkin gave the boys a gold medal for the weekend with a victory in the 110-meter hurdle finals at 15.31, a hair past the preliminary round.
Atkin also qualified for the 300 hurdles after Friday — seeded second going into finals — but opted to leave the afternoon open for relays knowing he was comfortably in the top five among 3A state competitors.
Such was the case for many Bulldog athletes as they aimed to use the meet to either boost their profile with stronger results or work on weak spots.
With both 4×200 relays in line for state qualification, runners turned their attention to the 4×400 races at the end of the day Saturday, with each of their groups getting their lowest times this season.
Though placement wasn’t the priority, boys took third in the one-mile relay helmed by AJ Barber, Wilson Eike and Victor Silva, with Atkin serving as the anchor, finishing 3:34.13 right on the heels of Coal Ridge, which will be one of their biggest contenders at state.
The same was true of the girls 4×4, who finished the day fourth at the meet, just behind Cedaredge both at the event and in the state rankings.
Halle Hamilton led off the relay bursting with energy thanks to an abundance of downtime during the weekend, running only the 4×800 — the first race Friday — and the 4×4 — the last race Saturday.
“I’m so ready to run,” Hamilton said before heading onto the track.
Hamilton handed off to Emma Jones, Jones to Alayna Behrman, with Papierski — who forfeited her spot in the 200 dash finals to join the relay — taking the final lap, timing in at 4:05.89.
Hamilton noted while the 4×8’s cuts were “tremendous,” the 4×4 was a smaller yet still important gain without teammate Stephenie Swindler present.
“We all push each other, but that competition out there against teams like that was what we needed,” she said.
Both the two-mile relays took their best times this season at Tiger, and though girls ranked seventh for state, the long distance team will likely be out of the running outside the top 20.
The individual Saturday distance events gave Bulldogs their best results for the spring as Kelsey McDiffett, Lydia Berkoff and Liberty Hippely finished seventh, eighth and 20th, respectively, in the 800 run at personal records of 2:28.91, 2:29.04, 2:38.50.
Likewise, Coltyn Terry was 13th in the 1,600 with a PR 4:56.58, with Logan Hafey 16th in a PR 2:14.76 in the boys half-mile.
As far as high placement, Abbe Adams earned bronze in the 300 hurdle finals (50.71), while teammate Behrman — who also finished prelims in the top eight — conserved her energy for other areas, going seventh in the triple jump.
Adams hit a PR in the Friday 300 prelims at 50 flat, though her attention going forward will be more on the high jump, with an early season mark of five feet getting her foot in the door for state.
“High jump is my favorite. I’ve been having a really good time with it,” Adams said. “It kind of came natural to me.”
On Saturday, Adams also ran both the 800 sprint medley and the 4×100 with Hannah Vasquez, Eliana Mack and Rylie Felten, placing 16th in the former, 10th in the latter.
Felten ran the final leg of the medley, her first time running a 400 this season.
“I loved the 400 in middle school, so that was a fantastic refresher of that. I was pretty proud of myself. Very thankful the team had a good lead there,” she said.
For throwers, the Tiger Invite served mostly as practice for the week to come.
A week after claiming a league championship in discus, Jesse Earle placed fifth Friday and sixth Saturday in the shot put, looking likely for state in each. Caylah Million also won a conference title in the disc, though Saturday saw her in ninth (100 feet, three inches), closely following Tiffany Hildebrandt at eighth (101′ 2″).
Hildy’s 110 feet at the home meet keeps her in the mix for state, while Million’s 116′ 9″ at league has her in the top five as she looks to get back to that mark.
“That throw felt effortless almost, but it was everything I had,” she said. “I really want to beat the school record (122′ 7″) and leave my mark on the school.”
Though he wasn’t shooting for state Saturday, MoCo’s Chris Sanderson said he felt more comfortable in the shot put than the discus, having scratched Friday.
He placed 28th in the shot at 33′ 9″, part of the ongoing process to keep improving. And, though the motion and musculature is most of it, a big part is the vocal part of the release, which was almost a yell on his final throw.
“It helps me a lot when I grunt like that,” he said. “I was trying my best on that last throw, but it is what it is. Until next year.”
While the Tiger Invite marked the conclusion to the season for some, it’s the last step before the biggest event yet for the rest.
After being part the state finals in cross country in the past fall and early state playoffs for basketball, Hamilton said getting to another high-level competition as a freshman is a blessing.
“I am so blessed to have the teammates that I do and the coaches.” she said. “Coaches make such a big difference, and everyone has been so supportive. I am so thankful to be here. I couldn’t have been happier.”
Athlete(s) — Time/Distance, Place
Victor Silva — 11.49, 12
Cale Scranton — 12.22, 32
Jared Atkin — 15.31, 1
Victor Silva — 24.07, 17
300-meter hurdles prelims
Jared Atkin — 41.87, 2
Logan Hafey — 2:14.76, 16
Coltyn Terry — 4:56.58, 13*
Carter Severson — 4:57.25, 14
Coltyn Terry — 10:44.68, 9*
AJ Barber/Victor Silva/Cale Scranton/Kevin Hernandez — 45.42, 6
AJ Barber/Wilson Eike/Victor Silva/Jared Atkin — 3:34.13, 3
Wilson Eike/AJ Barber/Logan Hafey/Carter Severson — 8:38.39, 5*
Jesse Earle — 139′ 8″, 5
Corey Scranton — 119′ 9″, 15
Jesse Earle — 43′ 7″, 6
Chris Sanderson — 33′ 9″, 24
Cale Scranton — 19′ 0.25”, 12
— The team placed ninth overall. * indicates team season best.
Alayna Behrman — 18.13, 14
Rylie Felten — 19.66, 23
200-meter dash prelims
Emaleigh Papierski — 26.75, 5
Eliana Mack — 29.84, 35
Hannah Vasquez — 30.79, 40
300-meter hurdles prelims
Abbe Adams — 50.00, 3
Alayna Behrman — 50.76, 5
Rylie Felten — 54.32, 19
300-meter hurdles finals
Abbe Adams — 50.71, 3
Sara Beason — 1:10.37, 28
Kelsey McDiffett — 2:28.91, 7*
Lydia Berkoff — 2:29.04, 8
Liberty Hippely — 2:38.50, 20
Liberty Hippely — 12:40.87, 6
800-meter sprint medley relay
Hannah Vasquez/Eliana Mack/Abbe Adams/Rylie Felten — 2:04.82, 16
Hannah Vasquez/Eliana Mack/Abbe Adams/Rylie Felten — 55.99, 10
Halle Hamilton/Emma Jones/Alayna Behrman/Emaleigh Papierski — 4:05.89, 4*
Halle Hamilton/Kelsey McDiffett/Emma Jones/Lydia Berkoff — 10:04.57, 2*
Tiffany Hildebrandt — 101′ 2″, 8
Caylah Million — 100′ 3″, 9
Caylah Million — 30′, 14
Hailee Herndon — 29′ 1″, 21
Tiffany Hildebrandt — 28′ 5″, 24
Abbe Adams — 4′ 7″, 12
Emaleigh Papierski — 16′ 8.5″, 1*
Alayna Behrman — 32′ 9″, 7
Eliana Mack — 30′ 7.75″, 11
— The team placed ninth overall.
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