Moffat County track, field athletes place in discus, 4×800 relay to start state |

Moffat County track, field athletes place in discus, 4×800 relay to start state

LAKEWOOD — A strong start can mean everything in track and field, and Moffat County High School’s first day at the 3A State Championships was full of success.

Day 1 at Jeffco Stadium saw the Bulldogs take the podium twice and move along to the finals in two events after preliminary rounds.

Thrown for a loop

A cool, still, overcast day on the Front Range was a welcome change for Jesse Earle after the previous weekend at Grand Junction’s Tiger Invitational.

A 90-plus thermometer reading and muggy atmosphere at the last regular event of the season overwhelmed the discus thrower, whose best toss of the day was roughly 125 feet, nearly 30 short of his personal best of 154′ 6″.

The more favorable weather in the Denver area was a big boost, but Earle said he still had to keep his mind sharp at the big time, keeping his throwing motion fluid and putting his energy into his release.

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Easily moving past the prelims with throws of about 143, he achieved his best with a little extra oomph in the finals to hit a mark of 147′ 4″ for fifth place.

“I feel like I could have done better, but I’m still glad to make it to state,” he said.

He added that since his sister, Charli, placed sixth at state discus in 2016, he was hoping to also make it to the podium, ideally doing the same or better.

“She was really excited when I called and told her,” he laughed.

As a junior, another year of throwing is in front, and Earle hopes to overtake Keenan Hildebrandt’s school record set in 2017.

“That’s definitely the goal,” he said.

He was only a few inches short of a state qualification in the shot put, but he wasn’t complaining about being done for the season after one day of competition.

“Now I can just relax and enjoy the next couple days here,” he said.

Relay readiness

While Earle’s fellow field competitor, Brooke Gumber, was the only MCHS state qualifier who was unable to attend the meet — making the cut in the high jump — Bulldog tracksters were speeding alongside the high jump pit as 3A girls were making their jumps.

Both the boys and girls 4×200-meter relay teams were in the top nine during prelims to advance to the finals on Friday.

The girls group of Stephenie Swindler, Emaleigh Papierski, Josie Timmer and Quinn Pinnt won their heat and shaved one-tenth of a second off the team’s season best for 1:47.62 and second place overall in the opening rounds, originally seeded third.

As the 13th seed among 3A schools, MCHS boys knew they’d have to go all out to beat their previous best and jump up the rankings.

Mission accomplished — Victor Silva, Elias Peroulis, Jared Atkin and Miki Klimper ran 1:32.17 to place ninth in the prelims and secure a spot in the finals.

Going the distance

Shortly after his relay jaunt, Atkin was back on the track for the 110 hurdles, racing in the third of three heats, the anticipation rising to a new level after a starting gun misfire.

The hurdler’s hopes of getting into Saturday morning’s finals weren’t in the cards, however, as a 15.80 gave him fourth in the heat and 12th overall. He and Klimper will both run the 300 hurdles Friday.

If Atkin was frustratingly close in his race, Papierski was agonizingly so at the end of the day Thursday, running a 1:00.04 in the girls 400 dash, a heartbeat behind D’Evelyn’s Laryssa Hamblen’s 1:00.02 to place 10th in prelims and find herself just outside the final nine.

Still, with a relay final and the 4×400 prelims to look forward to, Papierski has had plenty of positives at state so far, including eighth place in Thursday’s 4×800 relay, anchoring the team along with teammates Swindler, Kelsey McDiffett and Abby Bohne.

Swindler, Bohne and McDiffett also showed their dedication to their fourth teammate as Papierski walked off the track with blood dripping from her shin after a competitor’s spike caught her during a shift.

Even so, the group smoked their time from the Tiger Invite by 20 seconds, clocking in at 10:02.15, a vast improvement over their 14 seed.

Sophomores Swindler and Bohne were in the two-mile relay last year at state as well, placing ninth.

“We’re just going to keep climbing that podium,” Swindler said.

Bohne added that the group having capable freshmen Papierski and McDiffett means the long event will keep getting better in coming years.

“Last year we had one older teammate, and a lot of us didn’t really know what to do, but now we all know each other really well and we feel comfortable,” she said.

McDiffett noted that she and her teammates give it their all in a lengthy event where there’s only one shot to succeed.

“Other times I don’t feel like I tried my hardest, but I feel like I left everything out there today,” she said.