Moffat County track, field makes early achievements, earns shot put title to start league championships
GRAND JUNCTION — The opening day of the conference championships saw Moffat County High School track and field athletes take one league title, plenty more placements and setting themselves up for more success to come.
MCHS’s Jesse Earle found himself the top 3A shot putter this side of Colorado during the Western Slope Multi-Leagues Meet Friday in Grand Junction, edging just past his previous personal record by sinking the metal ball in the sand at a distance of 43 feet, 5.25 inches.
Zane Shipman also hit a new peak of 42′ 1.5″ to gain third place for Bulldog boys.
Among female throwers, Caylah Million was a bit short of her own PR, but still got points on the MCHS scoreboard with sixth place at 30′ 7″.
Tiffany Hildebrandt was 12th for girls and Toryn Hume 15th for boys in the shot. All five throwers will take on the discus during Saturday’s rounds.
Elsewhere in the field, Stephenie Swindler was second only to Grand Valley’s Shaya Chenoweth to get the silver in the long jump, hitting a leap of 16′ 1″ following her win in the event at MCHS’s Clint Wells Invitational. Following were Josie Timmer and Brooke Gumber in 18th and 19th.
Gumber fared better in another kind of jump, third in the high jump at 4′ 9.75″, with teammate Hannah Vasquez tying for eighth at 4′ 5.75″.
On the opposite end, Bulldog boys took on the triple jump, with Cale Scranton 12th and Colby Beaver 14th.
No points were awarded for the short races Friday, as sprints and hurdles were purely preliminary qualifiers for Saturday’s finals.
Nevertheless, the stage saw some meaningful accomplishments as Emaleigh Papierski cracked the one-minute mark for a PR in the 400-meter dash with a finish of 59.49 seconds, the third-best 3A girls finish, one step behind Rifle’s Delaney Phillips.
Swindler won her heat with her own PR in the 400 at 1:00.8 to advance to finals with the fifth best time in prelims, while Abby Bohne was 15th overall.
Grant Wade and AJ Barber each gained entry to finals with times of 53.46 and 53.64, sixth and seventh respectively, with Colin Jensen 15th.
Barber noted his PR in the quarter-mile is one he’s proud of in a season in which he feels he’s continually improved.
“Last year I was bottom of JV, so I’ve been working hard in the off-season,” he said. “About half of the team was doing some preseason stuff. We’ve all been hitting great times here.”
In the boys 100 dash, Elias Peroulis and Victor Silva shaved substantial time off their previous PRs to clock in at 11.61 and 11.66 for the sixth and seventh best 3A times to move on for finals, Scranton 24th overall. For the girls, Quinn Pinnt just made the cut at eighth, followed by Jaidyn Steele at 14th and Megan Olinger tying for 18th.
The bests kept falling in the 200 dash as Papierski and Swindler both progressed to finals at third and sixth with 26.99 and 27.27 PRs, with Pinnt just missing the mark at ninth. All three runners made it in the boys race as Silva, Miki Klimper and Peroulis were fourth, sixth and eighth to keep going.
Klimper won his heat handily in the 300 hurdle prelims, second overall, and will also run alongside Jared Atkin and Joe Campagna Saturday, third and seventh in the qualifier. Alayna Behrman will likewise run the longer hurdle race, fourth in girls 300, with Gumber 13th.
Atkin and Campagna each shattered their PRs in the early stage of the 110 hurdles, hitting times of 16.39 and 17.71 for third and sixth, with Behrman likewise earning a new best at 51.96 for fourth and entry into finals.
The long run
The MCHS distance harriers were hard at work as well during the opening day, as Liberty Hippely and Tate Severson took 10th and 13th in the 3,200 run early in the day.
With no relays Friday, some of the Bulldogs’ runners were limited in their activity. Carter Severson and Wilson Eike’s only race was the final race of the day, the boys 800 run, placing seventh and 10th.
“We had seven hours waiting for it, so it kind of hurt us a little,” Carter said. “I think our 4×800 and my mile race will be a lot better.”
The 7-10 split was also seen in the girls 800 for Kelsey McDiffett and Papierski, as well as Allison Villard in 20th.
With a full schedule throughout the day, Papierski — who briefly held the league’s best time in the half-mile — was noticeably weary by her final race, while McDiffett was feeling far more vigorous than a week earlier after recovering from bronchitis during the Clint Wells Invite.
At 2:30.26, McDiffett took off nearly three seconds from her PR in the 800 and is also seeking to outdo herself in Saturday’s 1,600 run, in which she holds the best numbers in the league this season.
“Last week, I was coughing a whole bunch and couldn’t breathe, and this weekend, I feel like it was my time to really come back,” she said. “I’m excited.”
Craig Press will have full results from the Western Slope Multi-Leagues Meet.
A blend of Northwest Colorado imagery and splashy colors now greets Craig drivers and pedestrians.