Phil Wertman Invite presents different challenge to athletes

Montrose’s Michelle Owen soars over the high jump bar Friday at Stocker Stadium to win the girls high jump at the Phil Wertman Invitational. Owen cleared five feet to win the event. Glenwood Springs won the girls team standings and Grand Junction narrowly took the boys team race.

At the midway point of the track season, coaches are looking for anything to shake things up.

Friday night’s Phil Wertman Invitational at Stocker Stadium provided just the right thing for the eight teams participating.

“I love the Friday night meet,” Fruita Monument coach Tom Goff said. “It’s a tough meet because you don’t have a lot of rest time, but it’s a great tradition that I’ve tried to keep going.”

The Phil Wertman is the only single-day Friday meet of the track season at Stocker Stadium.

“Friday night changes everything,” Central coach Lanton Kame said. “You have school all day long, and you get off of school and come to a track meet, so kids can wear down toward the end, but it’s a good thing to do because it’s different.”

Glenwood Springs finished first in the girls team standings with 150 points and Grand Junction won the boys title with 107.5 points.

Fruita Monument finished second in both, and narrowly fell to Grand Junction in the boys meet, finishing with 105 points.

The Fruita Monument boys won the 800-meter relay and turned a season-best time of 1 minute, 31.53 seconds.

Kyle Thornburg runs the anchor of the relay, and said the key for Vince Grasso, James Lewis, Alec Smith and himself is perfecting their handoffs.

“We have a strong team this year with a lot of talent, but we’ve slipped up in some of our handoffs,” Thornburg said. “We are comfortable as a team, and we have to clean up any errors in our handoff because they can potentially take up so much time.”

Thornburg also won a close 200-meter dash, finishing in 22.90, which edged Grand Junction’s Payton Glasoe’s 23.07, and Central’s Chance Sidebottom’s 23.08.

The meet had its fair share of good times, led by Central’s Aaron Wallway, who won the 110 and 300 hurdles. Wallway won the 300 in 39.97, which is a season best for him.

Wallway responded after a shaky meet last week in Denver, when he fell during his 110 hurdles race.

“I fell, I didn’t get a good time or place, so I wanted to get back into a good rhythm,” Wallway said. “I feel like I did that.”

Wallway finished the 110 hurdles in 15.21, and pushed past Palisade’s Collin Girardi, who finished in 15.45.

Grand Junction hurdler Jamie Derrieux was also looking for a good performance. Derrieux was running in her first race in four weeks because of a pulled hamstring.

Derrieux finished second in the 100 hurdles in 16.50. She said she felt healthy, but not up to speed yet.

“Practice all this week went so well, but it was frustrating because I know I can do better than that,” Derrieux said. “But my hamstring is feeling a lot better, and I’m glad to be back running.”

Rasjon Buford led Palisade, finishing second in the 100-meter dash in 11.64.

“I’m still trying to improve and get better every week,” Buford said. “I feel confident where I’m at.”

Montrose’s Michelle Owen won the girls high jump with a leap of five feet, and Palisade’s Savannah Hanson won the discus with a toss of 104 feet, 5 inches.


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