Tigers capture team title at Mickey Dunn Invitational
The Grand Junction High School boys 1,600-meter relay team knew what was at stake.
Heading into the final race in Saturday’s Mickey Dunn Invitational at Stocker Stadium, the Tiger boys held a one-point lead over surprising Glenwood Springs.
“Herman (Gutierrez, the Tigers’ anchor runner) told us (the score),” Rafael Coté said.
Coté, the third runner in the four-man relay, took the baton trailing by nearly four seconds but made up the gap and gave Gutierrez the baton with the Tigers in first place.
Gutierrez wasn’t about to give up the lead, cruising to the finish line in first place.
The victory gave the Tigers the team title with 106 points. Glenwood, which ended up third in the relay, took second with 101.
Coté, a senior and primarily a distance runner, hadn’t run a 400-meter race since middle school.
“It was definitely a new thing for me,” said Coté, who won the 800 meters earlier in the day.
With 150 meters to go in his leg, Coté took off and grabbed the lead 30 meters later. By the time Gutierrez got the baton, Grand Junction had a two-second advantage.
“I knew I just had to keep the lead,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez, whose forte is the hurdles, won the 110-meter high hurdles in the morning but decided to forego the afternoon 300-meter hurdles to run a leg in the open 400.
“I ran the 300 last week,” Gutierrez said. “I just wanted to see where I was in the 4(00).”
He found out, finishing second to Central’s Nolan Curtis.
As for finishing second in the team race, Glenwood Springs coach Blake Risner said it was a great accomplishment after losing his top two scorers from last season.
“For us to battle Grand Junction for the team title today, I don’t think many people expected that,” he said.
The Tigers also got victories from Jonathan Wright in the 200-meter dash and Randy Brown in the triple jump.
Risner had even more reason to be pleased with his girls team, which won the meet by 45 points over Gunnison.
“We’re pretty excited about where both teams are,” Risner said.
The Demons went 1-2 in the girls 300 hurdles, with Laura Young winning by more than a second over teammate Kristy Moore. Young crossed the line in 47.44 seconds.
“I still feel pretty slow,” said Young, who got a late start on track season after playing on the Demons’ state-qualifying basketball team.
“At the beginning of the season we’re working on strength,” Young said.
Young finished second at the Class 4A state meet in the hurdles last year.
“It’s been hanging over me,” she said. “At every workout, that’s been on my mind.
“I guess I have that goal of a state championship.”