Friday night highlight

Chuck Bisbee of Fruita Monument pulls away from the field Friday to win the boys 1,600 meters during the Phil Wertman Invitational. Bisbee cut seven seconds off his best time in the event

Amber Bowles of Coal Ridge High School, far left, eyes the field in the girls 100-meter hurdles Friday during the Phil Wertman Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Hunter Ash of Basalt, Alison Jameson of Fruita Monument and Brooke White of Montrose were just ahead of Bowles.

When Jill Payne said she likes running at night under the lights, she meant she really, really likes running at night under the lights.

The Grand Junction sophomore posted the 200-meter dash time to prove it Friday night at Stocker Stadium.

Blazing to a win in 25.43 seconds, Payne broke her personal record by more than half a second. Better yet, she broke the school record and ran the fastest time ever in the girls 200 at the Phil Wertman Invitational track and field meet.

Payne broke the 22-year-old meet record of 25.72, and Tigers coach Sean Henry said the school mark was 25.5.

“I run better at night,” Payne said. “I love the night races. Yeah, that was the best race I ever ran.”

Payne has emerged this season as the premier girls sprinter in the valley, winning most of her races as long as Moffat County’s Kayla Pinnt, the Class 3A state runner-up in the 100 and 200 last year, isn’t in the field. Pinnt was on hand Friday and won the 100-meter dash. But she didn’t run the 200.

That was disappointing for Payne, who likes the competition, but even without Pinnt to push her, she was determined to run a personal-record time Friday, and she felt it coming.

“That was always my goal, to get under 25.5, and I felt really, really good tonight,” Payne said. “I just had so much energy before this race. I just wanted to give it my all.”

Breaking the school and meet records came as a shock.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Payne said. “I’ve been working so hard, and it’s just awesome to see the improvement.”

Speaking of dramatic improvement, Fruita Monument senior Chuck Bisbee knows the feeling.

He bettered his previous best in the 1,600 Friday by seven seconds, and the winning performance came on the heels of breaking his personal record in the 3,200 by seven seconds a week earlier at the Pomona Invitational.

Some of the improvement can be chalked up to a senior determined to go out with a great season. But Bisbee said it is as much about preparation.

“This winter I was able to have a really, really solid block of training, and I was able to be consistent in training,” he said. “And I haven’t gotten hurt.

“I feel like I’ve been able to just work on the little things (during the season), and it’s paying off well for me.”

Bisbee clocked a 4:27.31 Friday in the 1,600, finishing 3.74 seconds ahead of Grand Junction senior Greg Eccher, and the competition from his friendly rival made a difference.

“Luckily I had Greg out here running fast,” he said.

Bisbee has qualified for state three times in cross country but never in track and field, so he’d like to finally break through and make the state cut this year. But, if it doesn’t happen, he said he’ll be OK with it as long as he keeps improving.

“I definitely don’t think I’m done, and I think there’s a lot more room,” Bisbee said of lowering his times.

It may be a reach, but he now has his eyes on the Fruita Monument record in the 1,600.

“The school record in the mile is 4:25-something,” he said. “I didn’t think it was in range until today.”

The school mark in the 3,200 is around 9:45, he said, meaning he’s another seven-second improvement away.

Fruita had one other event winner, Grady Winters, who claimed the 400 in 52.15 seconds, and the Wildcats finished with the boys team championship.

Fruita totaled 117 points, 17.5 more than runner-up Eagle Valley in the 15-team meet, and the Wildcats did it on the strength of second- and third-place finishes, netting five of each.

Fruita Monument doesn’t try to win every meet, but it hosts the annual Wertman Invitational, and Wildcats coach Tom Goff said the boys wanted to champion their own meet.

“We talked about it Monday, that we would try to win,” Goff said. “I’m proud of (the boys). I’m proud of the girls, too, taking second.”


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