A ‘Cats runaway

Fruita girls cruise to Wild West Invite title

Fruita Monument’s Cassi Ahrens stretches her lead in the 3,200-meter run Friday at the Warrior Wild West Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Ahrens won the race in 12 minutes, 45.38 seconds to help the Wildcats’ girls team win the team title in the five-team meet.

Cassi Ahrens’ lopsided win in the 3,200 meters mirrored the way the whole day played out at Stocker Stadium.

The tiny junior’s 12-minute, 45.38-second time blew away the field, just as Fruita Monument High School’s girls did at Friday’s Warrior Wild West Invitational track and field meet. Finishing 54 points ahead of second-place Moffat County, the Wildcats easily won the five-team meet.

Ahrens found herself maybe a half-lap ahead of her nearest competition in one of the afternoon’s final events.

“I didn’t have anybody to pace myself with, so that was kind of difficult,” she said. “I was like, ‘I hope I’m not running a 15-minute two-mile here,’ but I felt pretty good the whole way.”

So she called on her imagination to nudge her along.

“I was just trying to picture meters ahead of me and trying to catch up to those meters,” Ahrens relayed. “I always call it inches. It’s my term. I always think inches ahead of myself, like if I can just get a couple inches, it’s going to pay off in the long run, so that’s what I try to do.”

Fruita’s dominance extended beyond Ahrens.

Senior Niki Hunt scored big points for the Wildcats, winning the 100 hurdles (16.49), the long jump (16 feet, 10 inches) and the triple jump (35-10). The former gymnast, who joined the track and field team only last year, is a self-proclaimed perfectionist who relentlessly pursues bigger and better marks.

“I was so close to jumping 36,” she lamented, referencing her top leap in Friday’s triple jump. “I really want to be farther.”

So 36 is her goal?

“No,” she replied with a chuckle. “Thirty-seven. Even if I can jump a 36, I want to shoot for more than that. I like to think that you can always get better.”

Still, a four-win meet sat well with Hunt, who also contributed to the Wildcats’ 400 relay win.

“It was really good,” she said. “I was really happy with how things went.”

Michaela Hoffman (300 hurdles), Mackennea Broyles (800) and Emma Cooley (high jump) also collected individual event wins for Fruita, as did the Wildcats’ 3,200 relay team.

Central, the Wild West Invite’s host school, finished fourth in the team standings behind a pair of high finishes from senior thrower Brailyn Reddick, who won the shot put with a toss of 35-2½ and finished second in the discus (96-11) on her 18th birthday.

“Brailyn’s been an outstanding leader for us,” Warriors coach Lanton Kame said of last year’s seventh-place Class 5A discus finisher at the state meet. “The big thing is she’s improved dramatically since she came into the program. She’s a great thrower.”

Central’s girls, who placed fourth as a team, also won the 800 relay and the medley relay.

Greta Van Calcar’s 1,600 win helped Palisade’s girls to third in the team chase. The Bulldogs also got wins from Savannah Hanson (discus) and their 1,600 relay team.

Jackson, Bulldogs win boys title

Chance Jackson’s a small forward who uses his legs to leap for rebounds in basketball. On Friday, those legs powered the Palisade junior to first-place finishes in both the 110 (16.95) and 300 hurdles (44.35).

Jackson is in his second year on the track team.

“Coach (Tim) Reetz saw the hurdler in me,” Jackson said. “He told me to get after every hurdle and focus on one hurdle at a time.”

Daniel Ness (1,600), Anders Van Calcar (3,200) and Leo Gallegos (discus) also recorded event wins for the Bulldogs, who won the team title over second-place Fruita and a short-handed Grand Junction squad that placed third.

Zach Griggs (100), Josh Schweigart (400), Chuck Bisbee (800) and three relays — the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 — all won events for the Wildcats.

Chris Thornton (200), Michael McKnight (shot put) and Robert Harrison (long jump) were winners for Grand Junction.


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