The right combo: Fruita Monument relay teams blend correct runners to qualify for state
The Fruita Monument High School track & field team was experimenting with its boys relay teams when it found the right mix.
Coach Tom Goff put Mike Dannar in the 3,200 relay during the Phil Wertman Invitational and found the right guy to start the race.
“It was my first time running that race,” Dannar said. “They threw me in there to see my time for it.
“We ended up qualifying with an 8:13, so that was pretty good, so I guess I was on the team.”
With the state changing qualifying procedures this season, finding the right combination on relays is key to getting to state. Only the top 18 times or distances in each event reach the state meet.
Dannar is the lead runner on the Wildcats’ state-qualifying 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay teams that participate in the state championship meet Thursday through Saturday at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. Keenan Widhammer and Woody Seagren are also on both relay teams.
The 3,200 relay qualified 13th out of 18 teams during the Wildcats’ home meet.
“We knew it was going to be a fast time; we didn’t know it was going to be that fast,” Seagren said. “Mike really came through for us. That was his first time running an 800 and he ran really fast.”
The Wildcats haven’t run that event since they qualified because of conflicts with individual events and the relay.
The anchor, John Kolb, is dealing with shin splints, but Widhammer said everyone has improved their times over the course of the season.
Widhammer and Seagren were on the state-qualifying 3,200 relay team last year, which finished 18th, and are running on the 1,600 relay for the first time.
Dannar and Kyle Thornburg have run the 3,200 relay before, but this is the first time any of them have qualified for state in the event.
The team didn’t qualify for state until last weekend in the Southwestern League meet in Durango.
“We kept getting a pr (personal record) and qualified,” said Thornburg, who anchors the relay. “We were hoping it would be enough for us to go to state.”
Seagren started running on the distance relay a few weeks ago when Kolb started having trouble with shin splints. Seagren will compete on the Harding (Ark.) University cross country and track teams next year.
“Tom said, ‘We’re going to make some of those 800 guys and mile guys 4x4 guys,” distance coach Herb Huskey said. “We lost a lot of our 4x4s last year and had to start over again anyway. From the first race, they’ve been pretty good at it.
“It was kind of new to us. It was kind of the distance realm, but it’s crept down the last few years. We kind of have a pickle at state because the 4x8 goes, then an hour and 20 minutes later the 4x4 goes. They never really have the same guys do the 4 that does the 8.”
Kolb is an alternate for the 1,600 relay and James Mauch is an alternate on the 3,200 relay.
The Wildcats’ 400 relay team also qualified for state.
The Grand Junction boys 1,600 relay and the girls 400 relay qualified for state and the Palisade girls 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams made it to state.