Relieving relay for GJ: Tigers’ 400-meter team overcomes nerves in fifth-place finish
LAKEWOOD — There was no pressure for the Grand Junction High School girls 400-meter relay team, and the Tigers took advantage of that.
Allie Grasso, Stephanie Ryken, Sarah Versluis and Jamie Derrieux grabbed the last qualifying spot for the Class 5A state track and field championships and finished fifth Saturday at Jefferson County Stadium.
“It was good. We did the best we’ve ever done, so that’s what we were shooting for and we did,” said Grasso, the relay team’s only senior. “We nailed our handoffs and knocked a second off our time.”
The Tigers clocked a time of 49.30 seconds. Overland won in 47.82 seconds.
Grand Junction took the fourth seed for the finals with its personal best preliminary run.
“We were nervous, but we nailed our handoffs (in the preliminary),” Versluis said. “We ran the best we could and did even better in this race.”
The Grand Junction girls finished 31st in the team standings with seven points and Central was 32nd with six.
Grand Junction’s Jonathon Wright concluded his prep career with an eighth-place finish in the 400 dash in 50.83 seconds. Brandon Parson of Fountain-Fort Carson won the event in 49.09 seconds.
“You hit that (northwest) corner and the wind was like a wall,” Wright said. “I found a way to kick it at the end. I saw the guy in lane one catching up to me and couldn’t let him do that. I was happy to make the finals. That’s an accomplishment in itself.”
Wright will run for the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs next year.
Central’s Jamie Pomaski placed ninth in the shot put with a throw of 36 feet, 2¾ inches to go with her fifth-place finish in the discus.
“It went good,” Pomaski said. “I thought I could’ve done better, but I’ll take it. Placing my senior year is what I really wanted.”
It was the first time Pomaski has placed in an event at state.
She qualified for state last year in both events, but didn’t make the finals.
“The wind was frustrating,” Pomaski said. “It gets to you. It was everywhere. You try not to blink too many times. It shouldn’t affect the throw but it gets to you.”
Keila Utu of Fruita Monument was 11th (35-7¼).
Fruita Monument’s Levi Davenport finished 15th in the boys shot put with a throw of 45-½.
The Central boys finished 37th with five points and Grand Junction was 40th with two.
The Glenwood Springs girls team won two relay events to lead the team to an eighth-place finish with 41 points.
The Demons’ 400 relay won in 49.28 seconds and the 1,600 won in 3:54.73.
Jolie DuBois, Madi Goodstein and Allison Brown were on both relay teams, which set school records in each race.
“We’re so excited, we came here to state, got two first places, two school records, made our coach proud and ourselves proud,” Brown said. “We couldn’t be happier.”
The Demons trailed going into the final leg of both races. DuBois sprinted to the finish for the victory in the 400. Indivually, she placed fifth in the 100 meters and fourth in the 200. Goodstein placed ninth in the 300 hurdles (47.10).
Connor Adams was the first leg on the relay.
“Sometimes our handoffs aren’t perfect, but today it was really beautiful,” Brown said. “It worked out. I tried to catch whoever I could and kept running all the way to the finish line (behind DuBois in the final leg).”
Brown wasn’t the only one running to the finish line to see where DuBois finished. Goodstein ran across the infield to meet her teammates in a joyful embrace at the finish line.
Michaela Mansfield passed Windsor’s anchor runner to lead the Demons to the 1,600 relay title.
“I wanted to get another one for them and for me,” Mansfield said. “Windsor passed me, so I was focused on staying with her and brought it home.”
The Rifle boys took second in the 1,600 relay and eighth in the 400 relay to placed 13th as a team with 23 points.
The 400 relay team placed eighth in 43.83 seconds and the 1,600 team was second in 3:20.28.
“We’re real happy with it,” senior Joe Burgess said. “We all ran our best time. We ran our guts out. All that really matters is we gave it our all and we’re happy with that.”
Burgess, Tyler Rust and Andrew Proebstle were on both relays. Ryan Davis was on the 1,600 and James Martinez was on the 400.
“It’s crazy it’s gone by this fast,” Rust said. “We have graduation (today). It’s weird. I don’t know what to do now.”
Martinez placed fourth in the pole vault, clearing a personal record 14 feet.
“The side wind was wicked,” Martinez said. “It was weird. You try to wait it out and go for it when it’s calm.”
Nick Stephanus led Palisade with a fourth-place finish in the discus. He had a personal-best throw of 165 feet, 4 inches. His throw hit the measuring stick, which granted him a re-throw, but instead of risking a shorter throw, Stephanus kept the mark. Reece James of Fort Lupton won the competition with 169-8.
“It probably wouldn’t have affected the outcome too much,” Stephanus said. “You have to move on. I’m happy with the result.”
Stephanus barely qualified for the finals in ninth place. Ten advance to the finals.
“I knew I could throw farther. It was a matter of cooling off, settling down a little bit and doing what I could do,” he said. “I think the wind kind of messed with a lot of people.”
Tanner Smith finished one spot out of scoring for the Bulldogs in 10th, but had a personal best throw of 148-1.
“There is a lot of pressure here because it’s the best throwers. Throwing a pr makes you feel good. You’re at the peak of the season and you’re still improving.”
Eric Shellhorn led Montrose with a sixth-place finish in the 1,600 meters with a personal-best time of 4:25.95. After the race, he spent some time in the training tent for precautionary reasons.
“I ran as fast as I could,” he said. “I felt bad at the end and felt like I was going to pass out.”