No tall task: Height makes Palisade’s Girardi a good fit for hurdles
Palisade High School’s Collin Girardi found his perfect event.
Girardi, a senior, is one of the top 110-meter hurdlers in Class 4A, currently ranked eighth with a time of 15.45 seconds.
Girardi’s advantage is his 6-foot-4 frame, which allows him to easily clear the hurdles.
“They say being tall helps,” Girardi said. “But you still have to have a lot of practice and a lot of repetition.”
Girardi’s size has forced him to change his running style in the 110 hurdles. His stride is so long that he has to cut it down between hurdles.
“Some guys have to extend for their three sprint strides, but he actually has to cut down,” Palisade coach Tim Reetz said. “That’s helped him set up for the hurdles nicely and come off of them well.”
Girardi didn’t come out for track until his junior year, and was immediately pegged as a hurdler by Reetz.
Reetz, a college hurdler at Adams State College, said he tries to direct most athletes to hurdling.
“I tend to turn anyone I think can do it into a hurdler,” Reetz said. “The joke is on the first day of practice, anyone that’s new goes over to the hurdles. But with Collin, he’s real athletic and tall and with his height, it was like he had to be a hurdler.”
Despite never running track, Girardi took to the event.
“It was tough in the beginning, but I loved it,” Girardi said. “I had to learn to get close to the hurdles and run over them instead of jumping.”
Girardi went from beginner to state qualifier over the course of his junior season. Girardi finished 15th at state in 16.14 seconds.
“I didn’t make going to state a goal until about halfway through the season when I figured out how to actually do it,” Girardi said. “Then one day we had a track meet in Denver and I had my best time and was ranked. I told my mom I was ranked in the state and I don’t think she believed me.”
Girardi has consistently improved this season. He turned in a 16.50 at the Mickey Dunn, the first track meet of the season, and has dropped time in every race since.
“I’ve never seen a kid that’s never hurdled come out and make this much progress,” Reetz said. “He’s dropped time in every meet, so it’s been pretty impressive.”
Girardi nearly defeated the Western Slope’s top hurdler, Central’s Aaron Wallway, at last Friday’s Phil Wertman Invitational.
Girardi was hurdle for hurdle with Wallway, but ended up losing by .03 seconds.
Girardi’s improvements have come from his dedication to proper form, but said his mental approach will help cut even more time.
“You have to focus on your lane,” Girardi said. “I lost to (Wallway) because I lost focus when I realized I was up with him, and once I lost focus he took off.”
Girardi will see more good competition at the Liberty Bell Invitational today and Saturday. The meet is one of the largest in the state, featuring mostly Class 5A schools.
“This will probably be better than our state meet because we don’t have to face the 5A schools,” Reetz said. “It’s a great meet for the kids to get used to a big meet so when they get to state they won’t be as nervous.”