Trio of individual titles carry Palisade girls to Mickey Dunn win
Katelynn Carter released her third toss of the shot without much fanfare.
It didn’t feel much different than her previous two throws, or the three that came later in the finals at the Mickey Dunn Invitational track and field meet Saturday at Stocker Stadium.
But when the Palisade High School senior heard the official call out the distance of 34 feet, 11 inches, Carter couldn’t help herself. That was a distance worth celebrating.
“I just started jumping up and down and screaming because I couldn’t believe it,” said Carter, who broke her personal record by nine inches to win the event.
She needed that personal-best effort because runner-up Breann Hawman of Durango threw the shot 34-5.5.
Carter’s winning heave defied a lackluster start to her season one year after qualifying for the Class 4A state meet in the event.
“I had been around 31 feet all season,” she said. “Last year I was around 34 (at the end of the season). This year, I just wasn’t getting it — until today.”
Her happiness was doubled by another fact: “It was the first time I won a meet,” she said. “Usually I was finishing third or fourth, never second or first.”
Carter said she couldn’t pinpoint why she let fly with the personal-record throw, but Palisade throws coach Dave Stone had an answer for it.
First, he had to say of Carter’s winning throw, “Man, it was amazing.”
Then, he broke down what changed for Carter.
“This week, I’d say Wednesday, we had to have a talk because she was only throwing 31 (feet), and she said she didn’t know what she needed to do to get past that,” Stone said. “I told her, ‘It’s not going to throw itself. You have to put in the work.’ Then, at practice on Thursday, she was focused. Friday, she was focused.”
Then, Saturday she had the focus and execution she needed, and Stone said, “I was very excited to see her put it together today. ... To see Katelynn’s face after that throw, I wish I was thinking faster to get my camera out.”
Carter’s win was one of three by the Bulldogs, as Greta Van Calcar breezed to a win by 43 seconds in the 3,200-meter run, and Alexis Leonard won the high jump with a height of 5-2, which was matched by Grand Junction’s Tia Wright, but Leonard had fewer attempts.
That and four runner-up finishes propelled Palisade to 94 points and the team title, which Bulldogs coach Tim Reetz said was unexpected.
“I’m surprised we came away with the win today,” he said. “We didn’t win many events. ... We’re just so deep everywhere. It was the throws today. It was the jumps today. Our superstar, Greta, only ran one race.”
Reetz also singled out Amber Rentie who placed fifth in the 100, sixth in the 200 and ran a leg on Palisade’s second-place 400 and 800 relays. He said she exemplifies the depth the Bulldogs have this year and how the team points can pile up from placing third through sixth.
“We’re not weak anywhere,” Reetz said.
Grand Junction finished second with 69 points, and Battle Mountain was third with 61.
The Tigers got wins from Jill Payne (400), Megan King (300 hurdles), Wright (long jump) and its 400 relay, which included the three individual winners plus Kenzie Younker. Wright just missed adding a win in the high jump, Payne placed second in the 200, and King was second in the 100 hurdles.
Payne’s prowess as a sprinter has been well-documented the past two seasons, which ended with her running multiple races in the Class 5A state meet.
King, on the other hand, is a newcomer to first place, and she leaned at the finish line to make she won the 300 hurdles.
“I didn’t think I was doing that well,” she said, referring to a rough start in the 300 hurdles. “I ran over a few hurdles with the wrong lead leg. ... At the end I saw (leader Charise Crabb of Eagle Valley) was ahead of me, and I just kind of kicked it in and nailed the last two hurdles.”
Crabb beat King to the finish line in the 100 hurdles, but King was happy with second place and her time of 16.34 seconds.
“That was probably the best race I ever ran,” she said. “I felt really smooth over every hurdle, really powerful.”
King said she ran the 100 hurdles in a meet only once as a junior, adding, “This year I’m running it more, and I’m getting better.”
Grand Junction coach Sean Henry looked at the overall performance King had and said, “She had a great day today. Megan killed it. ... That’s a great day any way you cut it.”