Much to be sorted out for high school track and field teams
The high school track season is a puzzle.
And right now, the pieces are scattered everywhere.
“We are trying to see what everyone can do,” Fruita Monument track coach Tom Goff said. “I have an idea what the upperclassmen can do, but we have lot of kids that have come out for the first time.”
The first meet for three of the four District 51 schools is March 26, the Mickey Dunn Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Grand Junction has entered Saturday’s Montrose Early Invitational and the Lake County Indoor Invitational next week.
“We are still trying to open them up to different events,” Grand Junction coach Darrell Simonton said. “You try to see what they might be good at because sometimes they don’t know what they want to try.”
A good example of that is the Tigers’ Sarah Versluis. She didn’t try the triple jump until the Wednesday before last year’s Southwestern League meet, but ended up winning the event.
“You never know,” Simonton said. “She missed going to state by two inches, and she didn’t try it until that week.”
Versluis is one of the Tigers’ top returning athletes. She’ll run one leg of the 400 relay and be one of the Tigers’ long jumpers.
Other top girls returners include Jamie Derrieux in the hurdles and Stephanie Ryken in the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
On the boys side, Josh Flint and Payton Glasoe were on the 1,600 relay team that qualified for state. CJ Deters is the Tigers’ most promising thrower.
“(Deters) threw all summer long and we are looking for big things out of him,” Simonton said.
Fruita Monument’s strength should be its depth, with nearly 100 athletes on the team.
“We always have good numbers so we will have people in every event,” Goff said. “Depth has always been a big thing for us.”
Tyler Daniels and Vince Grasso will lead the Wildcats’ sprinters. James Lewis will be a strong long jumper and Tyler Church is the Wildcats’ best thrower.
The Wildcat girls have returning state qualifier Keila Utu, who finished 11th in the shot put at state.
Senior Katie Martin is the top sprinter for the Wildcats. She finished first in the 200-meter dash in the SWL meet last year in 26.93 seconds.
“Katie is our fastest girl we have by far,” Goff said.
Palisade coach Tim Reetz is excited about his group.
“I think this is might be one of the best teams we’ve had for a long time,” Reetz said. “We are hoping to compete with Glenwood (Springs) and Moffat County for a regional title.”
The Bulldogs have a strong group of returners on the girls team, including sprinters Angela Gordon and Emily Crow. Gordon’s best 100-meter dash time was 12.93 last season. Sarah Kem will pace the distance runners.
Palisade’s Olevia Shafer placed third at state in the long jump at 16 feet, 11 inches. Savannah Hansen will be the Bulldogs’ top thrower.
The Bulldog boys return their top sprinter, Devin Kenney, and their top middle distance runner, Andrew Buck.
The Bulldogs also have a returning state qualifier in the hurdles in Collin Girardi, who finished 15th at the state meet in 16.14.
Kane Gunther and Kenney will compete in the jumping events.
Central has a young team, and has spent the time before the first meet getting down the basics.
“We have such a young group that we want them to be comfortable working techniques,” Central coach Lanton Kame said. “Hopefully they will mature and blossom.”
The Warriors do have some experience on he girls team in senior jumper Amanda Chaffin, who has qualified for state the past two seasons in the high jump.
Chaffin finished 12th at last year’s meet, clearing 5 feet.
The rest of the girls team is raw, but sisters Felicia and Jessica Selby, both hurdlers, and 400-meter runner Morgan Haynie should all be competitive, and Kendra Chase will lead the sprinters.
Aaron Wallway qualified in the boys 300-meter hurdles last year, and Kame said he’s the team’s best all-around athlete.
Daniel Moore and Kenny Chase will both be solid jumpers for the Warriors.