Henderson hits her mark

Cedaredge jumper clears 18-1

Sydney Snyder from Grand Junction eyes her landing spot Saturday in the long jump during the Frank Woodburn Invitational at Stocker Stadium.



Jill Payne of Grand Junction High School, center, wins the girls 100-meter dash Saturday during the Frank Woodburn Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Payne also won the 200 meters.



Tia Wright from Grand Junction High School clears the bar in the high jump Saturday at the Frank Woodburn Invitational at Stocker Stadium.



Some long jumpers know while they’re in the air whether they nailed a jump. They can feel it. They know their speed was good and their steps were on. They know they hit the board perfectly.

They know they’re going to like the number called out by the sand-pit official.

Cedaredge senior Kenzie Henderson is not one of those jumpers.

“Usually my good ones feel like my worst ones,” said Henderson, the runner-up in the long jump at last year’s Class 2A girls state track and field meet.

The only indicator that clues her in is a look back to where she landed in the sand, and that’s when she had an idea Saturday that she had one of her best jumps of the year.

“I looked back, and I knew it was farther than I’ve ever gotten in that pit,” Henderson said.

It still took the Stocker Stadium official yelling out her distance for Henderson to know exactly what she had done. For the first time in her two years of long jumping, she officially jumped 18 feet.

Make that 18 feet, 1 inch.

“Finally! It’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Henderson said, adding she jumped 18 feet in a meet last year, but it was wind-aided.

This time, there was no wind to spoil the milestone jump, which gave her the win at the Frank Woodburn Invitational over her rival, albeit friendly rival, Paonia’s Brianna Van Vleet, the defending 2A state champ.

Van Vleet jumped 17-7 for second place Saturday, and Henderson said Van Vleet’s presence at most of the meets Cedaredge attends “helps me a lot. Knowing she’s also trying to get 18 feet pushes me.”

Henderson said both will be aiming for the 2A state-meet record of 18-4, which was set in 2003.

Henderson also ran a leg on two of the three relays the Bruins girls team won Saturday.

She also tried something new, the triple jump, instead of competing in the high jump, which she won at last year’s state meet.

Her first time doing the triple jump ended with a leap of 
33-5.75 and netted her third place.

“I guess it’s a good start,” she said. “It’s tough. I think I better stick to the long jump.”

Winning the triple jump wasn’t likely, given the presence of Sophia Anderson, who moved to Paonia this past school year. Previously at Hoehne High School, Anderson won the 2A state title in the triple jump two years ago and placed third last year as a sophomore.

Anderson’s winning jump of 35-4.5 at the Frank Woodburn Invitational was in the neighborhood of her personal best, the 35-10 she jumped as a freshman. However, Saturday’s jump was wind-aided, so it doesn’t count toward her ranking in the state. But Anderson also jumped 34-2 without the wind’s help, and she said that’s the best mark in 2A so far this season.

Another of the best performances in the girls meet Saturday was the dominating performance by Palisade senior Greta Van Calcar in the 1,600 meters.

Van Calcar won in 5 minutes, 12.75 seconds, and 26 seconds passed before another runner crossed the finish line.

Van Calcar was thrilled with the time and the way she felt Saturday. More than that, she’s been feeling good all season, and that’s been refreshing after two years of nagging injuries slowing her down.

“I haven’t run like this since my freshman year,” Van Calcar said. “The mile felt easy. It didn’t feel hard. ... I can feel the speed. I can feel it when I go to bed at night, and I’m so excited to run the next day.

“I’m super excited how this year is going so far. I’m already beating the times I ran last year at state. I’m running 50 to 55 miles a week at a sub-7, 6:50 (minute per mile) pace. It’s nice to finish a race and feel, ‘That was easy.’ I love to know I can go faster.”

And that’s what she plans to do, as Van Calcar said she thinks she will break her personal record in the 1,600 this year and break the five-minute mark.

Paonia, which has won the past three 2A girls state team titles, also got wins from Ashley Van Vleet in the high jump and Chelsea Meilner in the 3,200 as the Eagles claimed the Frank Woodburn title with 99 points. Montrose was second with 91, Cedaredge third (79) and Palisade fourth (65) out the 17 teams that scored points Saturday.

Grand Junction had a double winner in Jill Payne, who won the 100 and 200. Also for the Tigers, Megan King won the 300 hurdles and placed second in the 100 hurdles.


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