Moffat County track teams win Clint Wells home meet with 11 victories
The return of the Clint Wells Invitational to the Bulldog Proving Grounds on Friday was an all-around triumph for the host, as Bulldogs track and field claimed wins for both the boys and girls teams.
Though the benefit of having unlimited entries as the home team didn’t hurt, the fact that Moffat won six boys events and five girls events helped the Dogs keep the lead most of the day.
MCHS earned first place in the 100-meter dash (Evan Atkin, 11.43); 200 dash (Zeke Cordero, 23.44); 800 run (Owen Gifford, 2:04.22); 4×200 relay (Zeke Cordero, Jimi Jimenez, Hudson Jones and Andrew Duran, 1:33.15); 4×400-meter relay (Zeke Cordero, Owen Gifford, Jimi Jimenez and Evan Atkin, 3:33.13); 4×800 relay (Owen Gifford, Boden Reidhead, Noah Beason and Ian Trevenen, 8:50.19); 200 dash (Sadie Smilanich, 26.74); 300 hurdles (Lizzy LeWarne, 51.60); 4×200 relay (Quincy Lowe, Camila Nunez, Alexis Jones and Sadie Smilanich, 1:50.12); 4×800 relay (Danna Montanez, Teya Miller, Brook Wheeler and Lizzy LeWarne, 11:46.16); 800 sprint medley relay (Quincy Lowe, Camila Nunez, Sadie Smilanich and Cayden King, 1:59.17).
One of those wins almost didn’t happen. Thanks to a mix-up, LeWarne almost missed the 300 hurdle race entirely.
“I was in the second heat and when the first heat went, I just waited, but then they said they ran them together,” she said. “I was upset about it, but they let me rerun it, and I couldn’t be happier with that.”
LeWarne ran solo on the track for the race afterward and clocked in with her personal record. Smilanich also hit a personal record in winning the 200 dash, and the girls 4×200 and 800 sprint medley teams also set season bests.
“We’ve all been getting in a lot better shape,” LeWarne said. “I’m glad we got to do our meet here this year since last year it was in Hayden and didn’t even happen.”
In the past fall, MCHS revamped for the facility for the first time in decades with new rubber material on the circular track and jumping runways as well as adding cement walls on the sloping southeastern edge of the stadium.
Athletes were battling wind in some events and welcoming it in others; Atkin had a breeze at his back for a season-best time in the 100, whereas Cordero fought through a headwind to win the 200, as did teammate Andrew Duran, who finished right behind him in second place.
The Bulldogs earned points in nearly every event they entered. The boys also picked up silver in the 400, 800 run and 1,600 run, and placed second and third in the long jump and high jump, with bronze also coming in the 100 dash and 300 hurdles.
MoCo girls were runners-up in the 4×400 relay and third in long jump and high jump.
While her cousin Danna saw fourth place in the 400 dash in addition to a relay win, freshman Mia Montanez was pleased with her own performance in the quarter-mile event.
“My 400 was the best, since I PR’d by a second,” she said. “I think that’s the one I’ll keep getting better and better at over time.”
For MoCo throwers, Clint Wells proved beneficial in some unexpected places.
In his first competition this spring after a fall football injury, junior Ian Hafey tossed the discus 116 feet, 8 inches for the team’s best mark of the season, placing seventh in a competitive field. Likewise, freshman Milo Gifford and senior Isaac Vallem were gutting it out against each other in the shot put, each reaching new season bests (35-1 and 34-6, respectively).
For senior Catcher Jackson, the day was a mixed bag with a rough go in the shot.
“I scratched three times in a row, but disc was my second-best measurement of the year,” he said.
Jackson noted that he’s been steadily getting back into the throwing rings after a gap.
“It’s gotten easier, and I’ve definitely improved in the numbers,” he said. “I did track in middle school, but I did baseball my first two years here, so I kind of forgot how to do the form. It takes at least a year to get it down fully.”
For the girls, sophomore Taylen Hume reached 96-even for sixth in the discus, a new best, as well as 30-8 in the shot for the same ranking.
Though she was critical of her own results, senior Audriana Connolly nonetheless hit a PR in both throwing events in her first and only season in the sport.
“It’s all about figuring out the technique,” she said of the challenge.
Now in the final weeks of the season, MCHS track and field will be taking a smaller roster to the league championships this weekend in Grand Junction as well as the Tiger Invite the next week, with only the state event to follow.
For younger athletes, it’s hopefully not the last home meet they’ll see, though Clint Wells was bittersweet for the upperclassmen who were experiencing their final competition in their hometown.
“I’ve had a great time here with my sports career, and I’m grateful for all the coaches and the teammates who did it with me,” LeWarne said.
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