State relay supremacy
Hotchkiss wins first round of battle with Paonia by taking 3,200-meter relay title
LAKEWOOD — The first round in the battle for a possible Class 2A girls state track and field title between North Fork rivals Paonia and Hotchkiss went to the Bulldogs on Thursday.
Both schools had 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter relay teams seeded first or second heading into Thursday’s first round of the three-day state meet at Jeffco Stadium.
Only one Thursday was a final, and that went to Hotchkiss.
After finishing second to Paonia in last year’s 3,200 relay state final, Hotchkiss got its revenge, winning this year’s title.
Katy Parsons, Sophia Schelle, Mae Anderson and Natalie Anderson finished first in 9 minutes, 40.89 seconds. Lyons was second in 9:43.12 and Paonia third in 10:13.57.
“We’re going to go out and send a message,” Natalie Anderson vowed after winning the first relay.
Parsons, the lead leg, went out faster than she had planned but still hung on to hand the baton to Schelle in second place.
Schelle was in first by the time she handed off to Mae Anderson, who held the position.
Lyons actually grabbed a slim lead over Natalie Anderson on the next-to-last lap, but with 200 meters to go, Anderson kicked it in.
“I was really scared,” she said about thinking she started her kick 75 meters too early. But she took the lead at the start of the backstretch and pulled away for the 2.5-second victory.
It marked Natalie Anderson’s fourth state title. She was the lead runner on the past two 2A state team titles for the Bulldogs’ girls cross-country team, and she won the 3,200-meter state title as a freshman.
She caps her career this weekend with finals in the 1,600 and 3,200 and will run a leg of the meet’s final event, the 1,600 relay.
The Paonia-Hotchkiss battle for relay supremacy will continue today after both teams qualified with top-two times in the 800 medley and 800 relays.
Van Vleet wins 2A high jump
Paonia sophomore Ashley Van Vleet is a bit of an accidental state champion after claiming the 2A girls high jump title.
Her winning jump of 5-foot-4 is a personal record.
Early in the season Paonia head coach Brian Mitchem wasn’t sure he wanted to pull Van Vleet out of some relays so she could concentrate on the high jump.
“When I started the season, I wasn’t doing high jump, and I really wanted to,” she said. “Then I cleared 5-2, and coach said we might have to jump you at state.”
She didn’t campaign to be a high jumper, but her results made the statement for her.
“I let my performance do the talking,” she said with a smile.
She said the high jump is one of her favorite events.
“It’s just so much fun. You have to be mentally strong and physically strong to get where you need to be,” she said.
Earlier in the day, she ran on the 800 medley relay that qualified for the finals. Then after her high jump victory, she qualified for the finals in the 400.
Fruita Monument and Grand Junction had tough days in the Class 5A state meet.
Senior Chuck Bisbee placed ninth in the 3,200, setting a school record in the process for the Wildcats.
Fruita senior Katie Werman missed making the 100-meter finals, finishing 15th in the preliminaries with a time of 12.67, and the Wildcats’ girls 800 relay (13th, 1:45.61) missed the finals as well.
Senior Quinton Walton made the podium in ninth place in the boys discus for the Tigers, and senior teammate Michael McKnight was 11th.
Grand Junction sophomore Austin Taylor made the finals in the long jump but just missed the podium, placing 10th with a jump of 21-1.75.
Tigers sophomore Jill Payne did not qualify for the girls finals in the 100 (19th, 12.92) and 200 (16th, 25.46).
The Montrose boys 3,200 relay team placed sixth with a time of 8:09.0.
Palisade sophomore Jay Shuman qualified for the finals of the boys 110 hurdles, clocking the third-fastest preliminary time (14.78).
Montrose junior Abby Grace McGee had the third-fastest qualifying time in the 100 hurdles (15.42), returning to the finals, where she will try to improve upon her fourth-place finish at state one year ago.
Class 3A and 2A
Austin Williams claimed third place in the 3A discus with a throw of 154-6. Nick Paradiso of Trinidad won the event with a throw of 169-2.
Williams will now go for the gold today in his main event, the shot put, where he has the best mark this season by more than four feet.
Kenzie Henderson placed fifth in the 3A girls high jump for the Bruins with a jump of 5-1.5.
Grand Valley’s Benjamin Coleman placed fifth in the 3A boys triple jump with a leap of 40-11 3/4.
River Panish of Hotchkiss placed eighth in the 2A boys shot put with a throw of 43-8.75.
Taylor Walters claimed seventh place in the 2A boys long jump for Paonia.
In the 2A boys 3,200 relay, Hotchkiss placed fifth and Paonia sixth.
Meeker’s T.J. Shelton, who is looking to repeat as the champion in the 2A boys 100 meters, had one of the top qualifying times in the 100 and 200 preliminaries.
Morgan Hightower of Plateau Valley broke the meet record in the 1A girls discus with a throw of 108-7. But then Michaela Keeler of Hi-Plains had a throw of 108-11 to win the event.
Hightower, a sophomore, finished in second with her teammate Mariah Klinger taking eighth.