High school track athletes get final opportunity to qualify for state

Fruita Monument High School’s Mary McGee takes a giant leap during the triple jump competition at the Tiger Invitational track meet recently.

The Southwestern League is going retro this week.

Back in the good ol’ days, the SWL used to hold a league track meet prior to the regional meet, a final chance for bragging rights prior to state qualifying.

They’ll get that same opportunity this week and will be joined by a host of other teams.

No fewer than 43 teams will converge Friday and Saturday at Lincoln Park. Every Western Slope school will be competing for one final chance at gaining an invitation to Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood next week.

The Class 5A Southwestern League and the 4A Western Slope League will each be conducting their league meets. The nine 3A schools and the 20 2A teams will all be vying for top-three finishes in each event to earn a spot in their classifications’ state meet.

All four classifications will compete next week at Jeffco Stadium for state championships.

The only way 5A and 4A athletes can qualify is to post one of the top 18 performances in each event during the season. Many already have, but a few are on the bubble and a peak performance this weekend could propel them into the state meet.

Fruita Monument’s Mary McGee, for instance, is currently ranked 25th among 5A girls in the long jump. In order to move into the top 18, she’ll have to exceed her season best jump of 16 feet, 1 inch by at least four inches.

The triple jump has been especially frustrating for her this season. While establishing a personal mark of 34-1.5, she’s led going into the finals in three meets, only to finish second.

“I never really expected to get first or second,” McGee said. “This year I’ve improved in the triple jump so much, that’s motivating in itself.”

Because her top jump was wind-aided at the District 51 meet, it could not be listed in the state rankings. Should she match it this weekend, it would rank her 15th based on this week’s rankings.

“My goal this week is to get my PR (personal record) or beat it,” she said.

Should she do that, she’s got a good chance of qualifying for state in two events.

“This would be a good weekend to jump far,” she said. “It’s kind of a last chance (to qualify).”

Most of Friday’s schedule, which begins at 9 a.m., consists of preliminary races in each classification. Each class holds finals in a few events Friday, with the 3,200 meters for 2A and the Western Slope League capping things off beginning at 4:15 p.m.

All events on Saturday are finals. The meet is slated to finish at 5 p.m. with team awards.


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