Comeback ‘Cat

Werman overcomes false start to lead Fruita to school-record win in 400 relay

Fruita Monument’s Alison Jameson, second from left, hugs teammate Katie Werman after the Wildcats won the 400-meter relay with a
school-record time of 49.11 seconds Saturday at the Tiger Invitational at Stocker Stadium. The other runners on the relay were Michaela Hoffman, far left, and Joelle LeFevre, right. In winning the race, Fruita also beat Grand Junction for the first time this season in the event.

It’s track and field’s version of a bonehead play.

The false start leads to an automatic disqualification.

When Fruita Monument’s Katie Werman jumped the gun at the start of the 800-meter relay Saturday, Wildcats’ head coach Tom Goff stormed away from the track, his jaw tighter than a guitar string.

“I walked away as fast as I could. I was mad, but I got over it real quick,” he said with a smile.

That was Werman’s first race running the relay’s first leg, and Goff considered yanking her out of the first leg of the 400 relay.

“She’s such a good starter and she’s our best starter, so that’s why we made that switch,” he said, “I was rethinking my strategy. I thought about (switching it back) for a second, but we practiced our handoffs that way, and everybody deserves a second chance.”

He didn’t make the switch and now the Fruita Monument foursome of Werman, Michaela Hoffman, Alison Jameson and Joelle LeFevre have the school record in the 400 relay.

The four erupted in wild celebration after beating Grand Junction and learning of the record at the Stocker Stadium finish line during the Tiger Invitational.

The winning time of 49.11 seconds shattered the old record of 49.67.

The Wildcats had not defeated Grand Junction this year in the 400, which made the victory even sweeter.

Werman, who also finished second in the 100 meters, was bummed that she ruined the 800 relay race, so she was ultra focused for the 400.

“I was determined to get it back. After you false start you’re really down for a while,” she said. “I was very motivated. We had our time to beat, we had other teams to beat and I had my start to get back.”

The Wildcats led from start to finish in holding off the Tigers, which had an impressive second-place time of 49.57. The Tigers’ relay team was made up of Sydni Brandon, Megan King, Ashley Long and Jill Payne.

Jameson had been the relay team’s starter before this week, and she admitted that Werman’s false start was irritating.

“When she false-started, I was definitely upset but I’ve false-started before too, so we just had to shake it off.

“I was a little upset (about the change) because I don’t do real well with change,” she said with a laugh.

But after the victory, everything was good.

It was a near-perfect race for the Wildcats with a good start, good handoffs and a strong anchor by Joelle LeFevre.

“My start felt normal, maybe a little slower, but here we are with the school record,” Werman said.

Now that they have the school record, Hoffman, who also won the 300 hurdles, said they need to look at a new goal.

“We’ll probably try and break 49 (seconds) now that we’re so close,” she said with a smile.

For their coach, the fast time was a bit of a surprise.

“I really did (think they could break the record), and we talked about it,” Goff said. “I didn’t know they were that capable.”

Payne continued her strong sophomore season winning the 100 just ahead of Werman. But Payne lost in the 200 to Moffat County’s Kayla Pinnt — 25:18 to 25.20.

Payne ran in the Tigers’ strong 1,600 relay team that won with a time of 4:06.38 over Durango’s 4:09.81. Brandon, Long and Erika Meister rounded out the Grand Junction team.

On the boys side, Fruita Monument’s Josh Schweigart won the 400 meters with a time of 50.59.

Palisade’s Jay Schuman won the Tiger Invitational 110 hurdles race for the second straight year. The sophomore, who posted a winning time of 15.12, said he’s happy with how the season has gone.

“I feel real strong coming into the end of the season, now I just have to keep competing and working,” he said.

Schuman also anchored the Bulldogs’ second-place finish in the 1,600 relay, which posted a season-best time of 3:28.49. Glenwood Springs won with a time of 3:26.02. Jacob Bollinger, Jeff Edwards-Bailey and Trevor Alberts were the other three runners for Palisade.

Palisade’s Leo Gallegos sustained a possible season-ending knee injury while warming up for the discus on Friday.

Palisade coach Tim Reetz said it was freak injury that “is heartbreaking.”

Gallegos lost his balance and fell to his knees on his first warmup throw and his knee hit the concrete lip of the discus ring.

Reetz said Gallegos might have severed a knee tendon, and they will find out on Monday the extent of the injury.

Cedaredge’s Austin Williams continues to dominate the shot put event in Colorado, and on Saturday he won by nearly nine feet with a throw of 59 feet, 1½ inches.

In the team standings, Eagle Valley won the girls title with 96 points. Brighton was second with 71. Pomona won a close boys competition with 80 points. Fruita Monument was second with 71, followed by Eagle Valley with 69.5 and Grand Junction with 69.


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