Winter work for Fruita runners translates into ...

Workouts in December help Wildcat boys win Mickey Dunn invitational

Fruita Monument’s Nick Phillips, right, crosses the finish line Saturday ahead of Glenwood Springs’ Tim Batchelder, left, and Grand Junction’s Brody Cupp, center, to win the 100-meter dash at the Mickey Dunn Invitational at Stocker Stadium. The sprint victory was one of four total wins for Phillips, who also won the 200 dash and was a member of the 400 and 800 relay teams to help the Wildcats win the team title.

Fruita Monument’s Jacob Hahn leaps a hurdle on his way to the win in the 300-meters hurdles Saturday at the Mickey Dunn Invitational at Stocker Stadium. Hahn beat Palisade’s Jay Shuman, left, in this race, but Shuman got the better Hahn in the 110 hurdles.

No one was faster in the 100-meter dash.

No one was faster in the 200-meter dash.

The 400 relay and 800 relay on which he ran, no team was faster.

Four races, four wins. Nick Phillips had a great day Saturday at the 19-team Mickey Dunn Invitational boys track and field meet, and the Fruita Monument senior attributed the strong, early season showing to participating in winter track for the first time.

“I think that’s helped me a lot, so I can come in at times I ended with last year,” he said. “It really helped me get in shape.”

Phillips had company during the winter. Teammates such as Grady Winters, who won the 400 on Saturday, and Nolan Pflug, who won the 800, were with him, getting coached by Fruita assistant cross-country coach Leanne Whitesides. As seniors, they realized they’ve had good seasons in the past, but they’d like more state berths and perhaps a few school records before they graduate.

“We decided we wanted to put a lot of work in this year,” said Phillips, who saw what the winter work did for him Saturday and added, “I should’ve done it all three years.”

In addition to sweeping the 100 through 800 and winning the two sprint relays, the Wildcats got wins from Jacob Hahn in the 300 hurdles and their 1,600 relay.

The eight event wins provided the bulk of Fruita’s 118.5 team points, which netted the team championship. Palisade was second with 97 points, and Durango was a distant third with 58, one point ahead of Montrose.

“We just have a really good group of seniors who work really hard, will do whatever you ask of them, and there’s some talent there, too,” Wildcats coach Tom Goff said. “They’ve worked their tails off.”

Fruita was without two of its top distance runners, who were gone for spring break, or it might have swept the relays.

Goff said he sees the difference the winter work made in the athletes who ran for Whitesides, and he praised their dedication and determination.

“It’s not easy to go out and work your tail off in December when no one’s watching,” he said.

Hahn took part in a duel Saturday that will take place several more times between two of the Western Slope’s premier hurdlers.

Hahn, a Class 5A state qualifier in both hurdles events the past two seasons, got the better of Palisade senior Jay Shuman in the 300 hurdles. Hahn won in 39.73 seconds, and Shuman was third in 42.19 after getting tripped up by the first couple of hurdles.

Shuman, a 4A state qualifier in both hurdles races the past two seasons, was an easy victor in the 110 hurdles Saturday, clocking in at 14.95 seconds. Hahn was second in 15.43.

The competition will be intense between the two, but the rivalry will be friendly, as it was Saturday, because the two trained together in the offseason. Both acknowledge Shuman is the better 110-meter hurdler at this point, and Hahn is better in the 300, and each expects to get better from chasing the other.

Hahn said he and Shuman were in transition a year ago when they were working on their steps to the first hurdle, and he thinks both will be better this year.

Shuman agreed, saying, “It’s all about the first hurdle setting you up for the other nine.”

Hahn said he can see the improvement in Shuman’s approach to the 110s, and Shuman said Saturday’s sub-15-second time was a good early season showing.

“I had good rhythm between the hurdles,” Shuman said. “I hit a few hurdles, but overall I’m happy with my performance. It was a good place to start.”

Hahn felt similarly about his win in the 300 hurdles.

“I’m off to a really good start,” he said. “I’m about a second faster than I was last year at this time.”

Palisade had another winner, Zaccre Kenward in the triple jump, and he had to edge teammate Hunter Mathews to do it. Kenward leapt 41 feet, 11 inches, and Mathews went 41-8.25.

Montrose had 1-2 finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200 with Ian Meek winning both races, and Evan Graff taking second each time. The Indians had one more winner, Sam Distel in the discus.

Central got a win from Cheyenne Little-Fawn in the shot put as his heave of 48-5.5 was a little more than three feet farther than Rifle’s Joe Kosht, who also placed second in the discus.


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