GJ's McKnight, Central's McCune take top two spots in shot put at SWL championship meet
With just a smidge more body control, Michael McKnight and Quinton Walton would have had stories about the throws they nailed instead of the ones that got away.
Both Grand Junction High School senior throwers said they had a put of the shot that would have been a personal best if not for scratching by about an inch in each instance.
McKnight won the shot put Friday during the first day of the Southwestern League Championships track and field meet at Stocker Stadium. His winning toss was a respectable 49 feet, 3.25 inches, but he wishes he had kept his foot from sliding out the side of the thrower’s ring on a throw he estimates was at least 52 feet.
That would have blown away his personal record of 50-5, which he threw one week earlier at the Tiger Invitational, and landed McKnight a higher seed going into next week’s Class 5A state meet, where he finished 12th last year.
As is, McKnight is confident he’s returning to state, and he’ll look to land that big throw on the biggest stage.
He believes he has a throw of 52 to 54 feet coming.
“I’ve popped it in practice,” he said of that range. “I’ve been on a roll lately, so it’s looking pretty good.”
McKnight also said he is peaking at the right time because of the training and conditioning schedule Tigers coach Sean Henry had his throwers on.
Walton said he barely scratched on a throw he believes was a little more than 49 feet. That distance probably would have cemented a berth at state, where the top 18 individuals in each event advance.
Instead, he’s on shaky ground with his season-best 47-7.5 ranking 17th in 5A going into this weekend. He’ll be hoping no one supplants him this weekend. And Central thrower Mitchell McCune will be hoping for the same, because he uncorked a throw of 47-7.5 on Friday to finish second at the league meet and tie Walton in the state rankings.
Regardless of what happens in the shot put, Walton said his season-best throw in the discus of 149-10 ranks eighth in 5A at the moment. He’ll try to better that mark today in the finals.
“Hopefully (today) I can P.R. (get a personal record) and hit anywhere from 150 to 155,” he said, adding he’s been throwing the discus farther in just about every meet this season.
And at state, he’d like to let fly with one last monster of a throw.
“This is the last thing I’m ever going to do in high school,” Walton said, “and I really want to go out with a bang.”
Several other area athletes won events at the SWL meet, which was dominated by preliminaries to set up today’s finals.
In the boys meet, Fruita Monument’s Chuck Bisbee won the 3,200-meter run in 10 minutes, 1.57 seconds; Grand Junction’s Stockton Rock won the high jump, clearing 5-10; and Montrose’s Hayden Cook won the 800 in 1:19.19.
In the girls meet, Grand Junction’s Erika Meister won the 800 in 2:24.24; and Central’s Emily Stull won the 3,200 in 12:05.12.
4A Western Slope League
Among the five boys finals, Brayden Smith of Rifle was the lone area winner. He won the discus with a throw of 142-7.
Likewise, the girls had only one area winner in the six finals as Delta senior Bryanna Music tossed the shot put more than 10 feet farther than the runner-up. Her distance of 43-5 also topped her previous best this season of 42-9, which was the second longest throw in the state, regardless of class, entering the weekend.
3A Western Slope League
Cedaredge scored a pair of event wins in the four boys finals.
Austin Williams won the shot put by more than 18 feet with a toss of 56-8 and Brenden Klaseen won the 800 in 2:03.63 for the Bruins.
In the girls meet, Cedaredge’s Kenzie Henderson was the only area winner in the five finals, claiming the high jump by clearing 5-1.
2A/1A Western Slope League
Three different Paonia athletes were victorious in the five boys finals. Jeramiah Hillman won the 800 in 1:59.38, Jason Sturgis won the 3,200 in 10:06.84 and Taylor Walters leapt 21-4.25 to claim the long jump title.
In the girls meet, Hotchkiss won two of the four finals as Natalie Anderson claimed the 3,200 in 11:56.91 and teammate Daryl Batt won the discus with a throw of 116-4.
Meeker’s Sydney Hughes won the triple jump with a leap of 32-11.