Dazzling in debut

Recovered from ski mishap, Van Calcar edges Anderson in Woodburn Invitational

Palisade High School freshman Greta Van Calcar, right, sprints past Natalie Anderson of Hotchkiss to win the 1,600-meter run Saturday at the Frank Woodburn Invitational at Stocker Stadium.



Fruita Monument’s Cody Clayton clears 39 feet, 7 1/4 inches to place third in the triple jump Saturday at the Frank Woodburn Invitational at Stocker Stadium.



Like a daring NASCAR driver, Greta Van Calcar spotted an opening and made her move.

Squeezing her body between Hotchkiss junior Natalie Anderson and the inner edge of the track near the finish line at Stocker Stadium, the Palisade High School freshman punctuated a dazzling track and field debut with a first-place finish in the 1,600 meters at Saturday’s Frank Woodburn Invitational.

Van Calcar, who placed 12th in Class 4A at the state cross country meet in the fall, was making her first appearance on the oval this spring. A collision with a tree while skiing at Powderhorn Mountain Resort over winter break left her with a nagging right knee injury that she’s gradually worked to strengthen.

“I was in the powder and just kind of ran into it,” Van Calcar said. “I hit it so hard, my arms kind of wrapped around it. At first, I didn’t even feel that I hurt my knee. I thought I broke my ribs. Once the pain went away up here, I realized, ‘I can’t really walk now.’ “

As she demonstrated to the sun-soaked crowd at Palisade’s home invitational Saturday, her legs function just fine now.

Van Calcar’s time of 5 minutes, 18.91 seconds oh so narrowly edged Anderson’s 5:18.97.

And, given that Anderson has a 2011 state title in the Class 3A 3,200 on her résumé, that’s no pedestrian feat.

“She’s a great runner,” Van Calcar said. “She always pushed me in cross country. She was my competition.”

Van Calcar had planned to compete in soccer and track this spring, but her physical therapist ruled against two sports to aid the healing process.

“My physical therapist said it’s soccer or track, and soccer would be the worst option with the cutting with my knee and everything,” she said. “If I’m going to do a sport, do track, so that’s how it happened.”

And that’s OK. Van Calcar loves to run. Running, well, runs in her blood.

Her dad, Karl, was a national champion steeplechaser at Oregon State University who nearly qualified for the Olympics in his heyday. He ran in three Olympic trials (1988, 1992 and 1996) and is Palisade’s distance coach.

Said Van Calcar with a chuckle: “I wish I was like my dad.”

HunT, JACKSON LEAD their TEAMS TO TOP-THREE FINISHES

Fruita Monument’s Niki Hunt was a point-scoring machine for Fruita Monument’s girls, who placed second behind champion Paonia. Grand Junction finished third in the team standings.

Hunt won the triple jump, covering 35 feet. She also placed second (16 feet, 2¾ inches) in the long jump behind Grand Junction’s Whitney Jackson (17-6½) and finished third (16.91) in the 100 hurdles.

Hunt also contributed to the Tigers’ fourth-place showing in the 400 relay (52.01).

“I reached a personal best in the triple jump,” she said, “but I know I can jump a lot farther. ... There are just technical things to work out. Coach is telling me I need to be under myself when running more.”

Hunt’s friendly rival in the jumps, Jackson, had a big day as well, adding an individual win in the 100 (12.87) to her long-jump triumph.

She also ran a leg for the Tigers’ victorious 400 relay team (50.55). Jackson sat out the triple jump Saturday.

Junction’s girls also won the 800 medley relay (1:54.18).

Tigers’ Eccher, Fruita’s Bisbee deliver distance wins

Grand Junction’s Greg Eccher won the 1,600 in 4:32.1 to help Grand Junction’s boys to second place as a team.

Chuck Bisbee legged out a 3,200 win (10:33.13) for Fruita Monument, which placed fourth in the team hunt.

The Wildcats also picked up a win in the 3,200 relay (8:38.37).

With a dominant showing in the sprints and relays, Coal Ridge’s boys coasted to the team title. Cedaredge finished third behind wins by Reid Gates in the high jump (6-8) and long jump (21-9¾). The Bruins’ Austin Williams won the shot put (51-2).

Big-name thrower drops in

Throwers at the Woodburn were treated to an exhibition by 2012 U.S. Olympic Trial discus champion Lance Brooks.

Brooks, who mentors Ouray’s Kyle Gordon, launched the disc more than 200 feet (according to spectators) to the delight of the high school throwers.

Grand Junction’s Deshaun Harris, who finished second in the discus to Gordon and also placed second in the shot put, was among those left in awe.

“That was awesome to have an Olympian come out and throw for us,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how good you can be if you really want to.”


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