Broken record, improved facility boost Moffat County track team morale heading into home meet
As Moffat County track and field athletes prepare for the final stretch of the season, big things are starting to happen as the Bulldogs finally get to compete on their home turf.
The Clint Wells Invitational takes place Friday, April 28, at MCHS as 11 schools from across the region come to Craig to help the Dogs christen their new track.
This is the first high school track competition the site has hosted since 2021. The meet was relocated to Hayden last year only to be cancelled due to snowfall.
The new rubber surrounding the football field was first laid in the fall as part of a long-needed upgrade.
“This is the first time it’s been upgraded since I’ve been here, and this is my 21st year,” said head coach Todd Trapp. “We did get a paint job one time, but as for surface it’s the first time. It was definitely ready for it.”
Trapp described the track as being “100 times better than it was last year,” although the downside this spring was being unable to use it for many weeks of the early season thanks to the snow.
Only in the last several weeks have the Bulldogs been able to utilize all the parts of the facility.
“We’re definitely behind, but now it’s full-on practice time,” Trapp said.
Despite the hindrances the program has seen this year, the Dogs’ most recent event showed how much they’ve been able to persevere.
Last weekend’s Coal Ridge Invite saw senior Evan Atkin enter the 400-meter dash for the first time this season, not only earning the gold in the race but breaking the longest-standing entry on the MoCo track record board.
Atkin clocked in at 50.11 seconds, just a hair faster than the 50.14 Mark Evans-Lawton set in 1982. Evans-Lawton, remembered as a Bulldog track legend, was killed in action in Iraq in 2003 while serving with the U.S. Army Reserve.
Atkin said he was keeping an eye on his competition just before the start.
“There was one kid there who had run a 51 and was a little bit faster than me, so I just thought I’d stick with him,” he said. “Around 150 (meters), I passed him and thought, ‘why not go for it?'”
It wasn’t his first event at the meet, which probably helped.
“I was a little warmed up from the 110 hurdles, and that race was OK, but it really fueled me to get the win in the 400,” Atkin said.
The time all but guarantees him a spot at state, currently ranked third among 3A boys in the quarter-mile sprint.
Still, he’s hoping to have an even lower time when his name goes up on the record board.
“I’m hoping to shave that off and finally get under 50,” he said.
At Coal Ridge, Atkin also won the long jump (20′ 5.75″), took seventh in the high jump (5′ 7″) and set a season best in the 110 hurdles, placing fourth at 16.51.
His teammates were also seeing success at the meet; junior Zeke Cordero edged out his previous best in the 200 dash (23.28) for fourth, and junior Hudson Jones reached a new mark in the triple jump, taking fourth at 42 feet even.
In the 4×400 relay, Andrew Duran, Jimi Jimenez, Patrick Neton and Cordero took third at 3:39.47.
While MoCo boys placed fourth, the girls team took 12th at Coal Ridge and though they struggled to pick up points in the tightly competitive event, girls nonetheless were reaching strong individual results.
Junior Quincy Lowe and senior Sadie Smilanich hit their fastest times this season in the 100 and 200 dash (13.86, 27.15), respectively, with Smilanich taking fourth. Senior Lizzy LeWarne also improved on her times in both the 100 and 300 hurdles (20.06, 53.21).
Relays went well as Lowe, Smilanich, Camila Nunez and Cayden King broke 2 minutes for the first time this year in the 800 sprint medley and took third at 1:59.65. Smilanich, LeWarne, King and Danna Montanez also brought down the team’s time in the 4×400, ranking fourth at 4:24.78.
Fifth place went to the 4×800 team of Montanez, Bella Vanzo, Josefina Kuberry and Brook Wheeler (11:21.62).
The girls saw their best placement, if not their lowest time, in the 4×200, with a 1:52.05 earning second place for the foursome of Nunez, Smilanich, Teya Miller and Alexis Jones.
The Clint Wells Invite will be Bulldog track’s final opportunity to prove themselves before their league meet the following week.
Though they can’t predict if another broken record is in the works in the next month, coaches expect their athletes will be surpassing themselves more and more.
“It’s the time of year for kids to throw their best, jump their farthest, run their fastest,” Trapp said. “It’s time to go and time to compete.”
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