Moffat County track athletes setting sights on quick start, solid finish |

Moffat County track athletes setting sights on quick start, solid finish

Moffat County's Evan Atkin comes off the starting blocks during the boys 4x400-meter relay at the 2022 CHSAA State Championships.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Back in chilly Northwest Colorado after the respite of spring break, Moffat County’s track and field athletes are getting their blood pumping as they warm up for the spring season.

Bulldogs track starts its schedule this weekend with the Warrior Wild West Invitational in Grand Junction, kicking off a long-awaited return to the spring season.

The abundance of leftover snow is nothing new for the tracksters, and while their facilities are limited, they’ve found ways to work on their speed and strength with runs around campus and the city.

“We’re doing what we can with the conditions,” senior Evan Atkin said. “Every year it’s something like this, so it’s not too bad.”

Atkin was clad in tank top and shorts Monday afternoon, March 20, even with the temperature barely above freezing. Still, once his body temperature rose with the physical exertion, he hardly noticed.

A bundle of senior athletes are on the roster this spring. Among them are Atkin, Cody Boswell, Audriana Connolly, Billie Frederickson, Alexis Herndon, Catcher Jackson, Alexis Jones, Cayden King, Lizzy LeWarne, Boden Reidhead, Forrest Siminoe, Sadie Smilanich, Ian Trevenen and Isaac Vallem.

Many of the upperclassmen have represented the Bulldogs track program at the highest levels, and though she was unable to compete as a junior, Smilanich still holds the distinction of state champion as part of a girls 4×200-meter relay that won gold when she was a sophomore.

Atkin is also familiar with state competition, seeing his best placement last season with sixth in the boys 4×400 relay. That came shortly after he was named the 3A Western Slope League Boys Athlete of the Year with three regional titles — high jump, long jump, 200 dash — and Atkin is already anticipating hitting a lot of those heights again.

“We’ve got a lot to keep up with from last year, trying to reciprocate what we did, but we’re all putting in the work,” he said.

His goals are to crack 50 seconds in the 400 dash and surpass 6 feet, 5 inches in the high jump this spring.

“I’ve been doing pretty consistent in the indoor season,” he said.

After getting bronze in high jump earlier in his career, he’s hoping for a little more this time.

“I got third place sophomore year, so I’m hoping to get at least that this year, maybe even aim for first,” he said.

He also expects the boys team to outdo itself after earning second place as a group at regionals last year.

“We’re definitely aiming for that league championship and getting as many people as we can to state,” he said.

Trevenen, Andrew Duran, Jimi Jimenez and Hudson Jones are among the returning state competitors for the boys team, and among the girls who went to state and will be back in action are LeWarne, Alexis Jones, Teya Miller, Quincy Lowe, Brook Wheeler and Caitlyn Adams.

Moffat County’s Caitlyn Adams clears the bar in the girls high jump at the 2022 Mickey Dunn Invitational.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Last season saw the foursome of Adams, Mikah Vasquez and then-seniors Emma Jones and Halle Hamilton win a league title in the 4×200, while LeWarne, Vasquez, Emma Jones and Hamilton also earned second place at state in the 4×400.

And while expectations are high for the older athletes to keep doing well, coaches are also keeping an eye on the many freshmen and sophomores who will be key this season.

Freshmen Bella and Sofia Vanzo are looking to keep the momentum going after being big competitors for Craig Middle School. The twin sisters aren’t doing the exact same slate of events: Bella will be focused on distance running and Sofia more sprints. They’re both also looking to compete in high jump, though Bella will need to recover from a wrist injury she suffered during the basketball season before she can hit the mat.

The early season has seen the two siblings get into gear, admittedly with more intense practice compared to junior high.

“We run a lot longer with the distance and I feel like the workouts are a lot more beneficial than they were then,” Bella said.

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