Young team, strong talent — Moffat County track taking plenty to state
Participants will get send-off from community Wednesday at 2 p.m.
For the Craig Press
The majority of state-bound athletes with Moffat County High School track and field heading to the final level this week have only been competing for one or two years, but that just means there’s plenty more to come for these Bulldogs.
But first, the big event.
Colorado High School Activities Association released its heat sheets Monday for the State Track and Field Championships, and the name Moffat County was plentiful among the 3A listings as usual.
With 18 athletes in 24 total slots across 16 events, a strong group of Bulldog tracksters will be hitting Lakewood’s Jeffco Stadium Thursday through Saturday.
Moffat County High School’s Corey Scranton winds up in the discus throw in Hayden. Scranton is seeded fifth in the state among 3A competitors. | Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press
Event, Athlete(s) — Qualifying time/height/distance; seed
Logan Hafey — 15.93; 6th (tie)
Ian Hafey — 16.44; 12th
Logan Hafey — 40.34; 3rd
Ian Hafey — 40.34; 12th
Logan Hafey/Ian Hafey/Evan Atkin/Taran Teeter — 1:33; 5th
Logan Hafey/Ian Hafey/Evan Atkin/Taran Teeter — 3:31.6; 2nd
Evan Atkin — 6-3; 2nd (tie)
Evan Beaver — 5-10; 7th (tie)
Ian Trevenen — 5-10; 7th (tie)
Evan Atkin — 22-0.5; 4th
Corey Scranton — 134-5; 5th
Emaleigh Papierski — 25.54; 7th
Halle Hamilton — 26.54; 8th
Halle Hamilton — 57.46; 2nd
Emaleigh Papierski — 58.91; 6th
Emma Jones — 1:01.14; 10th
Antonia Vasquez/Cayden King/Alexis Jones/Sadie Smilanich— 52.09; 8th
Halle Hamilton/Emma Jones/Emaleigh Papierski/Sadie Smilanich — 1:44.8; 1st
Halle Hamilton/Emma Jones/Emaleigh Papierski/Sadie Smilanich — 4:05.2; 4th
Teya Miller/Lizzy LeWarne/Brook Wheeler/Bree Meats — 10:56.8; 17th
800-meter sprint medley relay
Antonia Vasquez/Cayden King/Alexis Jones/Sadie Smilanich— 1:56.96; 13th
Emma Jones — 5-1; 5th (tie)
Alexis Jones — 5-1; 5th (tie)
Cayden King — 16-1.75; 11th
Though there’s a mix of qualifiers between runners and field athletes, MoCo relays are prevalent as ever, making the cut in seven of the nine possible, including every girls relay race.
“All five of our girls relays are going. I’m not sure that has happened since I’ve been in Craig,” said David Pressgrove, one of the four Bulldog coaches along with Todd Trapp, Lance Scranton and Kip Hafey.
With 18 qualifiers able to go into each event, MCHS is high in the rankings of most events, in which the top nine will place in competition.
MCHS girls are the top seed in the 4×200-meter relay, with a school record-breaking mark set earlier this month making them the most intimidating bunch for 3A.
Running the half-mile relay will be the same group that set the record: sophomore Sadie Smilanich, juniors Halle Hamilton and Emma Jones, and senior Emaleigh Papierski. Hamilton, Jones, and Papierski technically remain part of the reigning state champion relay team in the 4×200, achieving the feat in 2019 with no 2020 season to follow as a result of COVID-19.
The prospect of repeating as one of the fastest relay teams in Colorado is an exciting one, Papierski said.
“I’m always looking forward to the relays. Those ones are super-fun, being able to run with your teammates,” she said.
Papierski and discus thrower Corey Scranton will be the lone MCHS track seniors — actually now nearly a month past graduation — to attend the state championships.
Though fellow senior Caleb Frink was hopeful to join the relay teams at state, a hamstring injury midway through the season proved too much for him to recover from during the past weekend’s Grand Junction Tiger Invitational.
“In a normal, longer season we might have been able to get him back in time. It’s a bummer,” Pressgrove said of Frink having to end his season early.
Last chance in Grand Junction
The Tiger Invite was the final opportunity for track athletes to record a state-qualifying time, height or distance, and though it didn’t work out for Frink, many of his teammates had highlights.
With his place secured for state in the long jump and high jump alike, Evan Atkin also could have potentially gone to state in the 400 dash after a second-place finish that amounted to the team’s best for this spring — 52.16 seconds — at Tiger that put him in the top 18 for 3A boys. Still, he was already committed to two field events and two relays.
Distance runners Boden Reidhead, Owen Gifford and Ian Trevenen each hit their best times this season in the boys 800 run, with Reidhead doing similarly in the 1600, and the quartet of Reidhead, Gifford, Carter Behrman and Trace Frederickson cracked the nine-minute mark in the 4×800 relay for the first time.
Likewise, Lizzy LeWarne set the team’s season best in the girls 800 run, while the 800 sprint medley team of Alexis Jones, Antonia Vasquez, Smilanich and Cayden King got their best time to date.
In terms of placement at the Tiger Invite, MCHS boys were the top 3A school, ranked fourth overall among many larger teams, while girls took sixth.
Bulldogs had several victories that day, including Logan Hafey in the 300 hurdles — in which he’s seeded third for state — while Hamilton won the 100 dash at Tiger and placed second in the 200 with her best wind-legal time of 26.56 to be seeded at state right behind Papierski in the latter.
Though she didn’t take the full lap around Stocker Stadium this past week, Hamilton is second behind front runner Peyton Garrison of Coal Ridge in the open 400, putting her a few spots ahead of Papierski and Emma Jones, both of whom hit new season bests in the 400 at Tiger to place third and fourth, respectively.
“It’s comforting to know Halle is in all the same events that I am,” Papierski said. “We both train together every day, so I feel like once we get there and we’re racing together, it’s just good to know.”
Papierski is the only current member of the team who will be attending the state championships for the third year. Between missing last year entirely and a college track career at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in front of her, she plans to make this week count.
“It’s going to be an all-out effort in all our races, and we’ll see what happens. That’s how I’m looking at it,” she said. “We’re all really hoping it ends in a way we would like.”
Sending the Bulldogs off with support
State participants will leave Craig Wednesday at 2 p.m., departing from MCHS locker room doors. A police and fire escort will lead them out of town down Finley Lane.
Community members are invited to send the Bulldogs off and wish them well on their way to State.
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