Erickson’s surge in 3,200 relay helps Tigers place second

Erickson's surge in 3,200 relay helps Tigers place second

Participants in the boys 100-meter dash take off Saturday during the Mickey Dunn Invitational Track Meet at Stocker Stadium.

Palisade’s Micah Galvan releases the disc on Saturday during the Mickey Dunn Invitational Track Meet at Stocker Stadium.

Palisade’s Savannah Hanson puts the shot 31 feet, 2.5 inches.

A body drained from 700 meters of running already flooded Matt Erickson’s mind.

In the final 100 meters of the 3,200 relay on Saturday, Grand Junction’s anchor heard a teammate shout: “He’s right behind you.”

“He” would be Chuck Bisbee of rival Fruita Monument, who is always a threat to pass runners and break spirits.

Erickson needed even a bit more incentive to kick-start more pain. Through sickness, searing soreness in his legs, lungs that heaved as though attached to automatic air pumps and burning dryness that coated deep in his throat, Erickson had a sudden thought:

“I thought about how we hadn’t won the 3,200 relay in eight years,” Erickson said.

That was it. Erickson was not caught. And Grand Junction’s winning time of 8:53.50 helped the Tigers to a second-place finish at the Mickey Dunn Invitational at Stocker Stadium.

Mountain Vista won with 102.5 points. Grand Junction had 61.

Fruita Monument took fifth with 54 and Delta sixth with 51.

Oh, and the grunt to start off Erickson’s grueling final 100 meters probably added some jolt as well.

“I guess I grunted,” Erickson said, “according to outside ears.”

Palmer Ridge won the girls title with 102.5 points.

Delta was fifth with 59 points and Grand Junction eighth with 42.5.

Fruita Monument’s Katie Werman won the 100 dash in a time of 12.76 seconds on a day when there generally was a breath of wind in Stocker Stadium.

“It was a good start to the season,” said Werman, who also placed third in the 200.

Grand Junction junior Whitney Jackson won the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 9 inches. She managed to shake off her typical nerves by thinking about everything besides the long jump. That wasn’t easy. Jackson is rather in love with the event.

“I love that it’s more than just running and jumping,” Jackson said. “It’s so technical.”

Fruita Monument’s James Lewis understands. After winning the long jump, going 22-9, Lewis spoke about build-ups and pop-ups and drive phases and words as difficult to spell and they are to remember. But he focused on one thing: the board.

“Keep it simple,” Lewis said.

Ethan Baier of Delta, on the other hand, was trying to beat his older brother, who’s not even in high school. With his winning triple jump of 43 feet, 7 inches, Baier hopes to improve on his ninth-place finish at last season’s Class 4A state meet. Baier’s brother, Eli, jumps for Colorado School of Mines.

“I just want to beat what he jumps this year,” Baier said. “I beat him last year.”

In terms of keeping track simple, that was basically Brandon Kittle’s method for winning the 100 meters in 11.7 seconds. Instead of trying to remember the technicalities involved in bursting out of the blocks properly, the Rifle sprinter just stood right up and ran.

“Pole vault is basically what I’ve been working on in practice,” Kittle said. “So I really didn’t think about the block, but focused on finishing, trying not to slow down at the finish.”

But for the area’s top placing team, the Grand Junction boys, it was also about dominating the throwing events. CJ Deters’ shot put of 55 feet, 4 1/2 inches was enough to place first by almost seven feet.

Fellow Tigers discus-thrower Deshaun Harris also took top honors in the event with a throw of 153 feet, 11 inches.


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