Fruita hurdlers enjoy their state experience
LAKEWOOD — Jacob Hahn and Micheala Hoffman had a special trip to the Class 5A state track and field championships.
The two Fruita Monument hurdlers are also bringing medals back home to the Western Slope.
Running in the 300-meter hurdles, Hoffman placed seventh in the girls race, and Hahn was eighth in the boys race Saturday.
Hahn said he has high expectations for himself, so he was aiming to qualify for the finals coming in. But when he crossed the finish line in his preliminary race Friday, he was stunned at what he saw.
“I was so excited. I mean, holy moly,” he said about his time. “I crossed the finish line, and I looked up, and I was like, ‘That has to be unofficial.’ “
No, it was official, and his time of 39.38 seconds was a personal best for the sophomore by more than one second. He ran 39.99 in the finals.
“I’m so happy. In (Grand) Junction, I was never this nervous for a race, I just went out and did it. With this one, I was so excited and so nervous,” he said.
Hahn jokingly called his first trip to state “a good T-shirt year,” using his fingers to put quotation marks around “T-shirt.”
But the trip was more than getting a T-shirt from the event, and now he said he’s setting the bar a little higher for next year.
For Hoffman, her goal was to make the finals, and she accomplished that with a strong race in the prelims. But on Saturday, Hoffman ran her fastest 300 hurdle race ever, posting a 45.38.
“I was so happy to be running with some of the best girls in the state,” Hoffman said. “It was crazy and exciting.”
She said the competition at state is so much higher than she sees on the Western Slope, and that’s why it was exciting to make the podium.
Her strong weekend already has the junior thinking about next year.
“It makes me want to come back, make finals and maybe place higher than seventh,” she said, smiling.
Grand Junction’s Michael McKnight had a good showing in the 5A shot put to place sixth.
The senior had a throw of 49 feet, 7¾ inches.
It’s rare when a relay team struggles with baton handoffs and runs away with a state championship.
But that’s what the Cedaredge girls did in the 400 relay.
The team of sophomore Amber Jenkins, freshman Shayna Dale, senior Summer Herman and sophomore Kendall McHugh posted a time of 49.82 to beat the 50.61 of Moffat County.
Bruins’ coach Kirby Henderson said he decided to mix up the rotation of the team a few weeks ago.
“They were ranked No. 1 in 3A all season,” Henderson said. “Then about midseason, I saw we were getting a plateau, so I switched the second and third leg, and that’s when we started dropping time and building that confidence.”
Jenkins took over the first leg, and she got the Bruins off to a fast start. She said it was a thrilling race, and the relay is about running hard, then cheering on the team.
“It went good. I was like, ‘Get out of the blocks. Get ‘em, get ‘em, get ‘em. Go Shayna, go!’ ” Jenkins said with a laugh.
The foursome wasn’t all that thrilled about the change-up, and the handoffs have never been great.
“Shayna and I have struggled with our handoffs,” Herman said. “We would practice, practice, practice, and we’d never get it right. Then every time we’d get to a meet, our marks would be right, and we’d get it. But it’s hard to trust that when you can’t get it in practice, but I trust her.”
McHugh ran the anchor and said that when she got the baton, “The pressure was on,” but she held the lead and secured the state title for the Bruins.
The Bruins’ 1,600 girls relay took third with a time of 4:02.86.
In the 3A boys meet, Cedaredge’s Xander Camp finished fifth in the 100 and 200 with times of 11.39 and 23.02, respectively.
In other 3A action, Katie Nelson, an Olathe junior placed fifth in the girls long jump with a jump of 16-7½.
The Grand Valley boys placed fifth in the 400 relay in 44.61.
In the Class 1A meet, Audrey Rose Kachin of Plateau Valley won the girls 400 with a time of 1:01.12.
Kachin, who also played on the Palisade girls soccer team this spring, used a strong finish to get the win.
“I was chasing Ginger (Hutton). That was my goal, just stick with her, and in the end I had enough to pull past her,” Kachin said about the Shining Mountain junior.
The boys 1,600 relay also won a state title for the Cowboys with a time of 3:41.32 . The girls 1,600 relay team finished second with a time of 4:19.79.