Running in circles

3,200-meter run tests runners' endurance, will

Grand Junction’s Jamie Derrieux, center, easily outdistances Montrose’s Lauren Livermore, right and Abby Grace McGee, left, Friday during the second heat of the 100-meter hurdles at the Tiger Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Derrieux was the second fastest qualifier for today’s finals.

The 3,200-meter run could be the most despised of track events.

Some hate it.

“Eight laps in a row,” Fruita Monument’s Sarah Horen said, “in a stupid circle.”

Others learn to love what they hate.

What does Grand Junction’s Greg Eccher like about two miles of slow burn?

“Not a lot,” the sophomore said.

Then he sunk deeper in thought.

“I like how it’s a guts race,” Eccher said. “It’s not just a talent race. I like to be able to see how far you can punish yourself to hurt.”

Love the hurt. Embrace the tedium. Eccher did that during the first day of the Tiger Invitational track and field meet Friday at Stocker Stadium. The meet resumes today at 8:30 a.m. with field events and the girls 800 sprint medley.

In a field that included some of the state’s top high school distance runners, Eccher sliced 20 seconds off his personal best time to finish in fourth place — nearly defeating highly touted Alfredo Lebron of Moffat County.

And much like spring whispers a hint of summer, the 3,200 offered a glimpse of talent that will be at the state track and field meet at Denver’s Jefferson County Stadium from May 17-19.

Dakota Ridge’s Danny Carney won in 9 minutes, 20.28 seconds, a time that before Friday was the second fastest 3,200 run this season.

Then came Telluride’s Ty Williams (9:25.28), Lebron (9:51.49) and, .02 behind Lebron, a sophomore among seniors, Eccher.

“I always looked up to those kids — Danny, Alfredo and Ty,” Eccher said.

Eccher has some motivation, in athletics and in the classroom. He said if he can land a full-ride scholarship, his father, Rick, will buy him a car.

That could be a couple of years away, but Eccher is on the right, well, track.

“He works hard in practice, doing the little things well,” Grand Junction distance coach Jake Pollert said. “That’s hard to come by anymore. A lot of kids join track to hang out with their friends and whatnot.”

Grand Junction is in third in the boys division with 23 points, behind Durango (24) and Pomona (29).

There are 19 teams at the meet, down from the meet’s traditional number of participants — about 30.

Grand Junction Athletic Director Ned Pollert said one possible reason is that the dry, sunny spring weather, which led to a lack of meet cancellations, left many Denver teams not so in need of attending the late-season meet.

Fruita Monument leads the girls division with 22 points after four events. Durango is in second (20). Grand Junction is in fifth with 12.

Grand Junction’s Jamie Derrieux had the top preliminary time in the 300 hurdles (46.71 seconds) and second in the 100 hurdles (15.84).

In the girls 100 dash preliminary, Palisade’s Angela Gordon will have the top seed in today’s finals. She ran a 12.71.

Fruita’s Katie Werman was second (12.72) and her teammate Joelle Lefevre third (12.87, while Grand Junction’s Sydni Brandon finished fourth (12.91).

In the boys division, Palisade’s Tanner Smith won the discus with a throw of 154 feet, 10 inches.

Central’s Kenny Chase won the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 0.75 inches.

Fruita’s James Lewis was second with a jump of 20-11.

Chase did not run track last year, but this season has jumped 21-7.25.

“It seems like me and (James) trade off getting first and second every meet,” Chase said.


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