Gunner Rigsby

Courtesy Colorado Mesa University athletics

Colorado Mesa’s Gunner Rigsby, shown during a meet earlier this spring, broke his own triple jump record Sunday at the RMAC Championships in Pueblo and achieved an automatic qualifying standard for the NCAA Division II national championships.

When Gunner Rigsby left Fruita to attend the University of Colorado, he had no plans to continue his track and field career.

When he left Boulder to return to the Grand Valley and earn his degree from Colorado Mesa University, he had no plans to continue his track and field career.

For both the Mavericks and the Buffaloes, not only did Rigsby make his way to the track after all; he’s also earned some of the best finishes in each program’s history.

“I wasn’t even planning on running track in college,” Rigsby said. “I was a basketball guy before track, so I wasn’t planning on going to college for track. It was a crazy transition, but it was a lot of fun.”

Rigsby’s prep days with Fruita Monument High School ended with a successful day at the Class 5A state meet. He won the state championship in the long jump, capping a perfect season in the event, and placed second in the triple jump.

Although he thought his time jumping on tracks would end with the state meet, his performance solidified CU’s interest in his athletic skills.

Rigsby competed for 2½ seasons in Boulder, where he still owns two of the top 10 marks in program history. In the 2019 outdoor season, he had the fifth-best triple jump in Buffs history at 48 feet, 6.75 inches. In 2018, he had the ninth-best long jump in team history (23-9.5).

“The competition aspect of it has really helped me,” Rigsby said. “It’s different from high school to college. You’ve got to really learn how to be professional during the meet and all that, just to get your marks right and jump as far as you can go.”

Rigsby transferred to Colorado Mesa in spring 2020, not intending to remain a student-athlete. However, once he returned to the Western Slope, then-new Mavericks jumps coach John Gabriel quickly seized the opportunity to recruit the jumper to the program.

“I just transferred back and was just planning on going to school, but then, coach Gabe got the job as the jumps coach,” Rigsby said. “He reached out to me and I went along with it. … I just like to represent my hometown. It feels good to succeed in my own hometown and put on for the city.”

That decision has worked out for both sides. Now a redshirt junior, Rigsby recently etched his name into Colorado Mesa track and field history.

At the Maverick Multi & Open in Grand Junction on April 10, Rigsby’s leap of 50-1.25 in the triple jump, gave him the top spot in the Mavericks’ record book.

“It was awesome,” Rigsby said. “It was a really good feeling. I’m just hoping to go farther now.”

Rigsby and Mesa are competing in town today, starting at 10 a.m., in the Maverick Sun Classic at the CMU Track and Field Complex.