Local track athletes not ranked in top 18 make final push for state marks this weekend

Fruita Monument’s Kyle Thornburg knows that if he wants to go to the state meet, he has to improve his time in his two events.

For local track athletes outside the top 18 in state, this is a big weekend.

The League Championships meets at Stocker Stadium are the final opportunity for Western Slope athletes to qualify for the state track meet.

The state meet — May 19-21 at Jeffco Stadium — is made up of the top 18 athletes in Class 2A-5A, and the top nine athletes in 1A.

“Everyone knows exactly where they are and what the number is,” Fruita Monument coach Tom Goff said. “It’s hard, but nothing is impossible and they have to perform.”

Fruita Monument’s Kyle Thornburg is currently ranked 28th in the 200-meter dash. His best time is 22.61 seconds, and the 18th-ranked 5A runner is at 22.39.

Thornburg, a senior, is also on the Wildcats’ 800 relay team that’s currently ranked 24th.

“Right now I have tunnel vision with the (800-meter relay) because we have such a strong team,” Thornburg said. “That’s been my focus, but being able to go in an open event would be great for my senior year.”

Thornburg isn’t the only athlete at this weekend’s meet who’s currently on the outside looking in. Palisade has Andrew Buck, who’s ranked 24th in the 400, Destany Lee, 24th in the 300 hurdles, and Angela Gordon, 22nd in the 200.

“It’s tough now because you can’t just win and go,” Palisade coach Tim Reetz said. “They all know what they have to hit.

“Right now, we have a lot of people on that bubble and we could take eight kids to state or we could take 18.”

The Bulldogs are competing against Battle Mountain, Delta, Eagle Valley, Glenwood Springs and Moffat County in the 4A Western Slope League meet.

Reetz said he’s trying to focus on getting the qualifying times during Friday’s prelims, and pushing to win the meet Saturday.

“I’m telling them to go as hard as they can in prelims so we can try to get their times on Friday,” Reetz said. “Saturday we’ll worry about winning and trying to place so we can get team points.”

Reetz said having a team like Glenwood Springs helps push his runners. The Demons currently have athletes ranked in the top 18 in the girls 200 and 300 hurdles, events where Palisade has athletes pushing for the top 18.

“Glenwood is bringing top-10 talent so it’s nice because we say run with them and it’s that simple,” Reetz said. “Plus Glenwood has owned everything during the WSL track season, and our guys have a really good chance.

“We’ve told them since the beginning of the year that the first eight meets we are focused on times, but in the ninth meet of the year, we do everything we can to win as a team.”

Fruita Monument, Central and Grand Junction are competing with Durango, Montezuma-Cortez and Montrose in the Southwestern League meet.

“This is always big for me, and I hope I’ve passed it on to them,” Goff said. “Our girls tied with Durango last year and our boys lost by one point, and we’ve been talking about this meet since last year’s meet was over.”

The 3A WSL meet consists of Aspen, Basalt, Cedaredge, Coal Ridge, Grand Valley, Gunnison, Hotchkiss, Olathe, Rifle and Roaring Fork.

The 2A WSL meet is made up the 2A/1A WSL and the 2A/1A San Juan leagues.

The running events begin today at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m.


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