Out of reach
Several athletes at Tiger Invitational just miss chance to advance to state meet
Aaron King knew how close he was to qualifying for the Class 5A state track and field championships on Friday.
The Grand Junction High School junior had a personal-best time of 1 minute, 58.70 seconds in the 800 meters headed into the Tiger Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Only the top 18 in each classification reach the state meet in Lakewood, and King knew he’d have to shave more than a second off his personal-best time to have a shot.
King’s second-place time of 2:00.88 wasn’t nearly as quick as he wanted it to be.
He dropped to the ground in frustration and, not long after, was greeted by his teammates who gathered around to comfort him.
“You just ran one heck of a race,” one coach said.
King took it in stride.
“What killed me was the third 200 because I ran a little too slow,” he said. “I was also so focused on my own time that I lost focus when it came to placing, I let first get too far away from me.
“All week I had people pushing for me hoping that I’d get it. I’m really happy about the support because if I didn’t have that, it would be a lot rougher.”
King was one of many athletes at the meet who were trying for a personal-best time or distance to make it into the state-meet field. The Tiger Invitational is the final chance to qualify for next week’s state meet at Jefferson County Stadium.
Fruita Monument had a couple of near-misses. One was Fruita Monument’s girls 1,600 relay team of Autum Erekson, Brandi Haller, Sophie Hubbard and Katie Parks, who needed to shave seven seconds off their previous-best time of 4:17.81 to have a chance at reaching the classification’s top 18.
The Wildcats didn’t make it, but their time of 4:13.26 was a significant improvement over what they’d run the week before at the Southwestern League Championships in Durango.
“We’ve been cutting off seconds like crazy,” Hubbard said. “This isn’t bad though. We’re all underclassmen, and we have a lot of room to grow.”
Another who came close was senior Konrad Behrens, whose winning time of 22.69 in the 200 was a personal best that’s close to a half-second faster than his times from early April. That improvement moved him within two-tenths of a second of Class 5A’s 18th-best sprinter but his time was the 31st-best.
Friday’s meet was more about focusing on how much progress athletes had made.
“When a kid does their best and keeps improving, there’s no way you can fault them for that,” Fruita Monument coach Tom Goff said.
Palisade won the boys team championship with 100.33 points, with Grand Junction (97), Fruita (81) and Coal Ridge following. Durango won the girls team title with 102 points with the Wildcats (88) and Grand Junction (81) not far behind.
Grand Junction’s Tia Wright won the triple jump (35-11) one day after winning the long jump and high jump. Megan King won the 100 hurdles in 15.97 and is in position to qualify for state in the high jump and both hurdle events.
Gunner Rigsby won the long jump with a mark of 22-0 one day after winning the triple jump. Palisade senior Caleb Brown won the shot put with a mark of 49-7 1/4, one week after posting a personal-best and school-record mark of 50-5 at the 4A Western Slope League Championships.
Headed into today, that mark was ranked fourth in the classification. But Brown, unlike the athletes who are trying to improve their marks and times to make the state field, has a mark in mind on a different scale.
“My goal is to hit 53 feet,” Brown said in a matter-of-fact tone. “That’s what I want. That’s what I’m going for.”