The finish line: Moffat County track ends season with 9 state medals
Moffat County High School track and field results from CHSAA State Championships
BoysAthlete(s) — Time/Distance, Place 110-meter hurdles Jared Atkin — 15.80, 12 300-meter hurdles Miki Klimper — 40.13, 5 4x100-meter relay Elias Peroulis/Jared Atkin/Miki Klimper/Victor Silva — 44.83, 7 4x200-meter relay Victor Silva/Elias Peroulis/Jared Atkin/Miki Klimper — 1:31.96, 6 Discus Jesse Earle — 147' 4", 5 — The team tied for 20th overall.
Girls400-meter dash Emaleigh Papierski — 1:00.04, 10 4x200-meter relay Stephenie Swindler/Emaleigh Papierski/Josie Timmer/Quinn Pinnt — 1:46.48, 3 4x400-meter relay Stephenie Swindler/Quinn Pinnt/Josie Timmer/Emaleigh Papierski — 4:07.08, 5 4x800-meter relay Stephenie Swindler/Kelsey McDiffett/Abby Bohne/Emaleigh Papierski — 10:02.15, 8 Discus Caylah Million — 109' 8", 9 Tiffany Hildebrandt — 103' 8", 11 Long Jump Stephenie Swindler — 14' 0.5”, 20 Triple Jump Josie Timmer — 34' 7", 8 — The team tied for 20th overall.
LAKEWOOD — It wouldn’t be a Moffat County High School track and field season without at least one downpour.
The third and final day of the CHSAA State Championships was a wet and chilly conclusion to the season for the Bulldogs but nothing they couldn’t cope with as they sought to finish the year strong. MCHS ended the day with both boys and girls teams each tied for 20th place in the 3A standings as both groups added a few more points to the tally they had accumulated.
Rain pounded Jeffco Stadium Saturday morning, but Moffat County athletes mostly avoided the precipitation with no events scheduled until mid-afternoon.
Still, the lingering effects were felt on the field and in the long jump pit as Stephenie Swindler bundled up in a hoodie to hit the runway.
Swindler admitted she was feeling a little jittery about taking on the event at the top tier, the effects of which were amplified with the weather conditions.
“I think it was just nerves as part of the first year coming in doing that,” she said. “I’m also used to warming up with other people instead of doing it all alone.”
A bit of a breeze in her face didn’t help either, placing 20th for the day with a jump of 14 feet, one-half inch, well short of the 16′ 7″ that got her to state. To be fair, all the 3A girls long jumpers had a rough day, including Lutheran’s Maya Evans, who set the state meet record in the event — 19′ 5.25″ — the year before but only needed an 18′ 3.5″ to win this time around, also taking the gold in the 100- and 200-meter dash earlier in the day.
Even as the wind was calming, another Bulldog had a similar situation in competition.
With a top contender who set a new state meet record during the preliminary round, MCHS’s Miki Klimper knew it would be a high task to outdo Bayfield’s Carl Heide, who went on to win the 300 hurdles as part of the Wolverines’ outright team victory at the state level.
Instead, Klimper’s sights were set on the goal he’d been chasing down the entire spring: a school record.
Long story short, he just missed the mark on the Bulldog record board by a fraction of a second. Even so, his last time ever in the combination of run and jump wasn’t without a personal milestone, as he whittled his best time down to 40.13 seconds.
Klimper was back on the track an hour later for his final race altogether, running the 4×100 relay alongside Elias Peroulis, Jared Atkin and Victor Silva.
After setting season bests in the 4×200 finals and the 4×100 prelims the day before, the quartet couldn’t quite exceed themselves but stayed right where they anticipated in the mix, earning seventh place with a 44.83.
“It’s such a good feeling knowing we came in ranked 17th, we weren’t even supposed to make finals and still made it this far,” Atkin said.
Silva carried the baton for the final leg, using his full energy for the last race of the year.
“Just wanted to go all-out, get us up on the podium as high as we could go,” he said.
Coach Todd Trapp was especially happy with the outcome.
“Those guys came in really excited about trying to do even better, and at the end of the year, we really try to get them to taper, work on handoffs, and they just started running really well at the right time of the year,” he said.
The day ended with the girls 4×400, starting with Swindler in the first leg, Quinn Pinnt following, Josie Timmer next and Emaleigh Papierski the anchor to bring it home for fifth place at a season-best 4:07.08.
Despite battling a cold throughout the state meet, as well as taping up her knee and narrowly missing the finals for the 400 dash, Papierski said she wanted to lay it on the line for the final relay.
On the one hand, there was no catching up to runners from Alamosa, The Classical Academy, D’Evelyn and Elizabeth, but being in the middle of the pack with a sizable advantage over the next four competitors kept her focused.
“It was tough because all I could think about was that I wanted to hold that lead for my team,” she said.
The one-mile relay has been a new experience for Pinnt, who had previously only done the shorter group efforts, and a race that involves getting out of the lanes was quite a change.
“That first big turn was kind of tough when I did it at Grand Junction (during Tiger Invitational), but this time it was a lot easier,” she said.
Pinnt is the only current member of MCHS track who still boasts a state title, which she achieved in 2016 as a freshman in the 4×100 alongside older sister Kayla. Despite missing a full season of track as a sophomore due to a basketball injury, the junior anticipates her senior year to be her best yet with plans to compete in volleyball and basketball alongside track.
She added that a number of incoming freshmen girls will undoubtedly add much to the pool of talent, especially in running events.
“I can’t wait to see what they bring and show us what they’ve got,” she said.
Altogether, the medal count for Moffat County was nine, including all five relays — girls 4×200 the highest in rankings with third — Klimper’s hurdles, Timmer’s triple jump and discus throwers Jesse Earle and Caylah Million.
“As coaches, we’re really proud of everyone. They’re going against the best of the best, and they rose to that occasion, and even when things got a little tough, they went after it,” Trapp said. “We definitely look forward to bringing as many of them as we can back next year and doing it all again.”
The state meet was the final hurrah for several Bulldogs as Peroulis, Klimper and Timmer rounded out their senior season with their best possible performances.
“It was great to run one last relay with these guys, it didn’t matter how high we placed,” Peroulis said.
Peroulis was another athlete who didn’t compete last year despite making it to state as a sophomore but came back even stronger.
“I kept second-guessing myself when I started doing track in the first place, but I’m glad I did it,” he said.
With the 3A 4×400 the last girls race of the event, the emotions built up greatly for Timmer when the end finally came as she shared embraces and some waterworks with her teammates before heading off the field.
“I wouldn’t trade my time with these girls for anything in the world,” she said tearfully.