GJ throwers put in time to reach pinnacle
Deshaun Harris, Michael McKnight and Quinton Walton used their brawn to protect quarterbacks and create openings for running backs on Grand Junction High School’s football team in the fall.
Now that it’s spring, the brawny trio does its work in the shot put ring and discus cage.
After Saturday morning’s shot-put action wrapped up at the Tiger Invitational track and field meet, Harris, McKnight and Walton weren’t finished throwing. They remained behind long after their fellow competitors vanished, each uncorking a few practice throws in their perpetual quest for perfect mechanics.
“We’re just trying to figure out what we may have done wrong or what we can do better,” said Walton, who played center and lined up between guards McKnight and Harris on the Tigers’ offensive line.
“We’re trying to get a few more throws in all the time. We always try to put in work after practice. If we can’t throw, we’ll take our own shots and discus and go throw on our day off.”
All that practice is yielding success.
Harris, a senior, won Saturday’s shot put at Stocker Stadium with a heave covering 52 feet, 7½ inches. His 145-2 throw won the discus Friday, with Walton finishing second (133-2).
McKnight placed fifth in the shot (44-5½).
“They’re all perfectionists,” said Grand Junction track and field coach Sean Henry, who himself threw for the Tigers back in his athletic prime. “They work their tails off in the weight room, and that makes a huge difference with the throws.”
And they study film. Lots of film. Just like in football.
“I go on YouTube, and I’ll sit there and watch Olympic throwers and their techniques and then compare them to mine,” Harris said.
“Another cool thing, Henry has on his iPad an app called Coach’s Eye. You can record yourself throwing and then split the screen and have another thrower on the other side. Then you can compare yourself, which is really nice.”
It’s worked for Harris, who said he has progressed from 40-foot shot-put throws as a freshman to the personal-record 54-5 he tossed at this season’s Phil Wertman Invitational in April. That mark had him sitting at third in Class 5A going into this weekend. A top-18 mark is needed at regular season’s end to qualify for the May 16–18 state tournament.
Harris owns a top-18 discus mark, too. His 149-5 throw at the Mickey Dunn Invitational in March had him in eighth place in the state as of late Saturday.
Walton was 27th in the discus (135-8, Lakewood Tiger Invitational) and McKnight’s 44-5½ on Saturday pushed him to 29th in the shot put.
If Walton and McKnight can find a way to push themselves to new heights at the upcoming league meet at Stocker Stadium on Friday and Saturday, the three could remain together for one more week.
“We’re all close,” Walton said. “I consider them like family. We’ve gone through so much together. It’s a very close throwing team.”
Devils take boys title
Eagle Valley racked up 89 points to edge Fruita Monument (83) and Grand Junction (81) in a three-way chase for the Tiger Invitational boys team title.
Josh Schweigart won the 400-meter run for the second-place Wildcats in 51.64 seconds and contributed to his team’s victory in the 800 relay (1:32.99). Chuck Bisbee topped the field in Friday’s 3,200 (10:00.14).
The host Tigers won the 3,200 relay in 8:11.7.
Jay Shuman won the 110 hurdles (15.98) for Palisade, which placed fifth as a team, and Chris Black sped to victory in the 300 hurdles (40.35) for ninth-place Delta.
Werman leads Wildcat girls
Katie Werman is simply happy to be healthy again. Health means two of her favorite things: track and soccer.
Werman, an outside defender for the Wildcats on the pitch and a sprinter on the track and field team, won Saturday’s 200-meter dash in 26.78 seconds, placing just ahead of Palisade’s Angela Gordon (27.08).
“I’m still recovering from a back injury, so my season kind of went downhill a little bit last year,” said Werman, who spent much of the past year in physical therapy recovering from a bulging disk. “I took a whole year to recover, and I’m kind of coming back, so I’m really happy.”
Juggling two spring sports has not been an issue for the speedy junior.
“I do have to balance practices a little bit, and then most of my games are during the week and meets are on the weekend, so it works out that way,” Werman said.
“My coaches are really good with working with it, so it works out really well. With college, I might have to choose at some point, but it’s really hard because I love to do both.”
Werman’s win helped Fruita to the girls team title. Teammate Michaela Hoffman won the 300 hurdles (47.61), and Niki Hunt won the triple jump (36-3½).
With Hunt and Werman each running a leg, the Wildcats also won the 400 relay (50.65).
Fourth-place Grand Junction got a win in the high jump from Madison Marsh (5-0).
Cleo Whiting won the 3,200 for second-place Delta in 11:16.63, and the Panthers won the 3,200 relay (9:47.24).
Greta Van Calcar paced Palisade, which placed sixth, with a win in the 1,600 (5:11.92).
Rifle’s Joey Kuheim won the shot put (42-11) and discus (131-8) titles.