‘It flies by’: Moffat County track, field athletes hold nothing back at state finals
Making the most out of changes has been a key theme this year for Moffat County High School track and field, and Bulldogs were more than up for the challenges afforded by the final event of the spring.
Colorado High School Activities Association’s state championships took many athletes by surprise as the normally three-day event was squeezed into a Saturday and Sunday affair.
The most notable adjustment for runners was CHSAA doing away with preliminary rounds, every event a final race, which had the most noteworthy effect on distance running as packs of harriers bounced off each other in pinball fashion.
Saturday’s girls 4×800-meter relay yielded a ninth-place finish for the foursome of freshmen Stephenie Swindler, Liberty Hippely and Abby Bohne and senior Mattie Jo Duzik.
Duzik — who refrained from celebration with her group momentarily to check on a competitor who had tripped and fallen in front of her on the track — said she felt immensely proud of a trio of teammates experiencing their first year at state.
The three rookies were up to the task. Bohne, who was injured much of the season, served as the anchor and couldn’t be stopped in the final lap to secure placement.
“It was exciting, and I’m glad I got to come to state,” she said, adding that the wait to compete was downright exhausting.
Riley Allen, Connor Scranton, Miki Klimper and Carter Severson looked to repeat from last year in ninth or better in the two-mile boys race, only for the cluster of runners to push them back into 10th.
Head coach Todd Trapp said this was a downside of the format but also something that can only make runners better.
Klimper fared better in the 300 hurdles, leaping his way to fifth, while Jared Atkin placed 17th.
Despite a rough go in the boys 3,200 in which he took 10th, Allen found his way to the podium late as he earned seventh in the 1,600. He said that though it was tricky to focus during a jumbled weekend, he intends to keep cutting time headed to Trinidad State Junior College for track and cross country.
“I’m really excited to cut down on some of that mileage,” he said.
None of the Bulldogs stood taller in the winner’s circle than Keenan Hildebrandt, with third place in the shot put, a huge improvement from nearly last in the previous season. However, his hopes of taking second in the discus — Lutheran opponent Adam Dawson easily throwing more than 200 feet in warmups — didn’t pan out, as he took fourth.
State first-timer Morgan Nelson exceeded her own expectations at the meet, moving past her eight seed to finish fourth in the disc, a final round that went by quickly for her.
“I just wish I had four more throws,” she laughed, referring to field events’ four total attempts rather than the usual six.
Josie Timmer likewise had to make her condensed go in the triple jump count, an event for which she narrowly qualified, right on the cusp of the final 18.
It’s also the event for which making it to state meant the most.
“It’s hard to explain, but I love the phases of it. I feel like I have more to build on” she said, noting she intends to make it to the same level or better next season.
Josie was also able to share the state experience with sister Jenna, the siblings completing the middle splits of the 4×200 relay.
As usual, the 4×400 races marked the culmination of championships, and Bulldogs went full-throttle to end the season.
Klimper, Scranton, Severson and Grant Wade took 12th among boys in the one-mile relay.
“It shows who has the most guts,” Scraton said of the final race, also his last time in high school track. “I love running with these guys, I’m gonna miss it.”
Just as the boys 4×400 was getting going, the Bulldog girls were on the podium, Emma Samuelson, Duzik, Josie Timmer and Swindler placing eighth.
Happy to place, seniors Samuelson and Duzik were nonetheless fighting tears not long after their hand-off.
“It just flies by so fast,” Samuelson said.
Duzik described it as “surreal.”
“When you’re a freshman, you never think this day will come, but it catches you by surprise,” she said.
Miki Klimper — 40.627; 5th
Jared Atkin — 43.94; 17th
Riley Allen — 4:31.05; 7th
Riley Allen — 9:54.31; 10th
Miki Klimper/Connor Scranton/Grant Wade/Carter Severson — 3:33.93; 12th
Riley Allen/Connor Scranton/Miki Klimper/Carter Severson — 9:54.31; 10th
Keenan Hildebrandt — 154’ 7”; 4th
Keenan Hildebrandt — 49’ 4”; 3rd
Emma Samuelson/Josie Timmer/Jenna Timmer/Stephenie Swindler — 4:13.55; 14th
Emma Samuelson/Mattie Jo Duzik/Josie Timmer/Stephenie Swindler — 1:50.05; 8th
Stephenie Swindler/Liberty Hippely/Mattie Jo Duzik/Abby Bohne — 10:15.35; 9th
Morgan Nelson — 106’ 11”; 4th
Josie Timmer — 33’ 1”; 16th