Earning a top-18 ranking the goal for all track and field competitors

Grand Junction’s Stephanie Ryken, center, is one of the top sprinters in the state, ranking in the top 18 in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs.

Today’s Phil Wertman Invitational at Stocker Stadium is one month before the 2011 Colorado state track and field championships at Jeffco Stadium.

For the past three seasons, the track has done away with regional qualifying meets, instead taking the top 18 athletes in every event as ranked by Varvee.com.

“We are still moving kids around, trying to find a way to get them into the top 18,” Grand Junction coach Darrell Simonton said. “You aren’t looking to win a meet anymore, you are trying to get kids into spots where they can get top 18.”

Coaches are required by the Colorado High School Activities Association to record results on Varvee.com. The ranking system allows athletes to know where they stand in the state.

“Now it’s a whole body of work from throughout the season,” Central coach Lanton Kame said. “So you can have a good race early in the season, but unless you are there in the end, it doesn’t matter.”

Central currently has three athletes ranked in the top 18, high jumper Amanda Chaffin, shot putter Brailyn Reddick and hurdler Aaron Wallway.

Grand Junction’s Stephanie Ryken leads the Tigers by being ranked in three individual events and two relays.

Ryken is in the top 18 in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes and as a member of the Tigers’ ranked 400- and 800-meter relay teams.

“Knowing I’m ranked in five events is awesome,” Ryken said. “It makes me want to work that much harder.”

Ryken is ranked eighth in the 100 with a time of 12.63 seconds. Ryken, a senior, has been to state the past three years in a relay event, but has never qualified as an individual.

“I’d barely miss it, but this is my best season, and I’ve PR’d (personal record) in all my races,” Ryken said. “I know I can still shave off some more time.”

Although Ryken is familiar with the current system, she still remembers having to qualify through a regional meet.

“Regionals wasn’t as fair because it was all in that one race,” Ryken said. “Now it’s overall and the competition is a lot tougher.”

Grand Junction is ranked in 14 events, including the boys and girls 400-meter relay.

“It’s really difficult to get top 18 in 5A,” Simonton said. “Anytime you compete against those Denver schools, it’s tough.”

Fruita Monument, the host of today’s meet, is ranked in three events. Discus throwers Tyler Church and Jaden Koos are both in the top 15 with throws of more than 140 feet.

Palisade is ranked in 10 events in Class 4A, led by Olevia Shafer, who is in the top 10 in both the long jump and triple jump.

The Phil Wertman Invitational has eight teams, including all the District 51 schools as well as Moffat County and Montezuma-Cortez.

The first event, the 800-meter medley relay, begins at 4 p.m.


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