Lane seven good for GJ’s Gutierrez in 300 hurdlesBy KENT MINCER The Daily Sentinel LAKEWOOD &
LAKEWOOD — In both the preliminaries and finals of the 300-meter intermediate hurdles at the Class 5A state track & field championships, Herman Gutierrez drew lane seven.
Since the heats are seeded, that’s generally not an indication of one of the top times.
The Grand Junction High School senior surprised everyone, except himself, in Saturday’s finals, finishing second.
“I guess it’s my luck lane,” Gutierrez said of a lane generally designated for the third-fastest qualifiers.
Gutierrez finished 1.3 seconds behind Littleton’s Kyle MacIntosh.
He was in the middle of the pack when the race hit the turn.
“As soon as I got to the curve I thought (I could get) third or fourth,” Gutierrez said. “The last 100 (meters) is my best. I didn’t slow down; I didn’t stutter.”
The hurdles marked the start of Gutierrez’s day. The final 5A race of the meet, the 1,600-meter relay, marked the end, and Gutierrez and his Grand Junction teammates also finished second.
The Tigers team of Jonathon Wright, Stuart Shrum, Rafael Cote and Gutierrez came within three-tenths of a second of nipping Littleton at the line.
Gutierrez got the baton for the anchor leg in second place. On the final curve he tried to make his move, but Littleton’s final runner held him.
“Two seconds in a day — that’s not bad,” Gutierrez said.
Grand Junction had one entry in the girls state championships Saturday. The Tigers made it count, finishing second in the 400-meter relay.
Allie Grasso, Stephanie Ryken, Traci Rolbiecki and Breanna Jones crossed the line in 49.15 seconds, only .52 seconds behind Heritage.
“We wanted to have fun in our last race together — no regrets,” Ryken said.
They had none.
“I was so nervous,” said Grasso, the lead leg and a freshman running in her first state final. “My nerves helped me get out of the blocks fast.”
Ryken and Rolbiecki both took the baton in third place; Jones passed one runner during the anchor leg.
“It couldn’t have gone any better,” Grand Junction coach Darrell Simonton said. “Their handoffs were right on, (it was) their fastest time of the year.”
In fact, the foursome broke the eight-year-old school record in the event by more than half a second.
Central’s Nolan Curtis ran the pace he wanted at the start of the boys 400-meter finals but it put him behind most of the field early. The Central senior finished sixth.
“I didn’t get my kick in soon enough,” Curtis said. “I got it about 20 yards too late.”
He still managed to post his best time ever, 48.63 seconds.
Grand Junction’s Randy Brown reached the final in the boys triple jump but could not move up to earn a medal, placing 10th.
Midway through Saturday’s session, the Colorado Track & Field Officials Association presented five awards to officials who have made a contribution to the sport over the years. Three of the awards went to Western Slope officials.
Joe Shields of West Grand, Don Miller of Glenwood Springs and Dennis Teeters of Grand Junction were all honored for their longtime service in promoting the sport.