Rifle freshman Copeland wins league high jump title

Meeker’s Alema Atoafa soared 20 feet, 3 inches to win the 2A Western Slope League long jump title Friday at Stocker Stadium. The win will send the junior to the state meet.

Rifle’s Carsyn Copeland cleared 5 feet, 1 inch Friday to win the Class 3A Western Slope League high jump title at Stocker Stadium.

Carsyn Copeland wasn’t sure how she would do in the high jump or relay events.

The Rifle High School freshman recently healed from a pulled hamstring, but with the league championship on the line Friday, she gave it a shot.

“I was kind of nervous,” Copeland said.

She jumped 5 feet, 1 inch to win the Class 3A Western Slope League high jump title.

“I wasn’t expecting to win the league as a freshman, but I feel good about it,” Copeland said. “My best is a 5-2. I was trying to get 5-3 because that’s our school record, but I’m good with 5-1.”

Gunnison leads the boys and girls team races. The boys have 68 points. Rifle is second with 35, Cedaredge is third with 23 and Coal Ridge is fourth with 20.

The Gunnison girls are first with 60. Cedaredge is second with 35, Rifle is third with 33, Hotchkiss is fourth with 25 and Olathe is fifth with 23.

Olathe’s Morgan Stansberry took second (5-0) and Hotchkiss’ Savannah Rocha took third (4-10) in the high jump.

The Bears’ Joey Kuheim won the girls shot put with a throw of 37 feet, 9.25 inches and Ryan Moeller won the boys triple jump. He jumped 41 feet, 11.75 inches.

Natalie Anderson of Hotchkiss won the 1,600-meter run in 5 minutes, 19.24 seconds. Brandi Krieg of Grand Valley did not run in the event.

Cedaredge’s Rebecca Deal won the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 2.75 inches. Grand Valley’s Jordan Steinke took second (16-10.5).

The Cedaredge girls’ 3,200 relay team took first place in 10:23.48. Gunnison won the boys 3,200 relay in 8:27.24.

Gunnison’s Bryce Johnston won the 1,600 in 4:33.65 and Keanan Garnes took first in the shot put (49-4.25).

Class 2A

Alema Atoafa was a bit surprised to win the Western Slope League boys long jump championship Friday at Stocker Stadium.

The Meeker High School senior not only jumped a personal best of 20 feet, 3 inches, he didn’t participate in track until last year when he moved from Huntington Beach, Calif., nearly two years ago.

“That was my personal best,” Atoafa said. “I was stuck in the 19s and was never able to make the last couple inches until today. Before we started, I said a little prayer.”

Team scores were not available because the 2A Western Slope League and 2A San Juan League are running their events together.

It is Atoafa’s first league championship and the win qualifies him for state in an individual event for the first time.

“It’s been a struggle to practice because I work,” Atoafa said. “It paid off, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. I have a great coach.”

He decided to try track and field, partly out of interest and partly to appease his aunt.

“I’d figure it would be awesome just to try out for the track team,” Atoafa said. “My aunt was tired of me sitting around the house doing nothing.”

He was still recovering from a knee injury in football and was limited to running last spring.

“That’s what’s so amazing,” Meeker jump coach Kristen Henderson said. “He’s extremely athletic and agile. He’s the most coachable person I think I’ve ever coached. He just picked up the hitch kick this year. There’s no stopping him.”

Another Meeker athlete, Kathryn Doll, won the girls triple jump with a leap of 36 feet, 8.75 inches.

Dove Creek’s Kyli Banks won the discus with a throw of 113 feet. Paonia’s Chelsey Reed won the 800 meter run in 2 minutes, 24.18 seconds. Telluride’s Rachel Hampton won the 3,200 in 11:48.47.

Mancos’ Kenny Philpott took first in the high jump (6-1) and teammate Cade Mitchell won the discus (123-0).

Colten Rogers of Telluride won the 800 in 2:01.06. Chris Zirkle of Hayden took first in the 3,200 in 10:01.22.


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