Scores of high school track and field athletes from across the Western Slope tried to shave minutes, seconds and fractions of seconds at the Grand Junction Tiger Invitational on Friday and Saturday before next week's state championships.
Theathletes also tried to shave distance off their deficits in the field events, all in an effort to qualify for the Colorado High School track and field championships at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.
"The main thing coming in was just qualifying (for state)," said Palisade's Jacob Mattingly, who shaved enough time in the 110-meter hurdles to qualify for the Class 4A state championships. "In years past, I was so close. This year, I was right on the edge."
Mattingly finished fourth in the 110 finals Saturday morning at Stocker Stadium, clocking a time of 15.81 seconds. That's well within the top 18 times in 4A from across the state.
Currently, he has the 12th best time in 4A. Teammate Zane Haas is right on the cut line in the hurdles.
Mattingly also will return to state to compete in the triple jump this season. He's currently ranked No. 6 heading into the 4A state meet with a best jump of 43 feet, 8 inches.
The Palisade hurdler moved right up to the qualifying line in the 300-meter hurdles Saturday. He'll know by Monday if he'll compete in the 300 hurdles at state.
"Running with… familiar company helps," Mattingly said. "It's nice to have those guys… always pushing each other. And we're all pretty dang fast."
Central junior Max Marsh won the 300 hurdles and finished third in the 110 hurdles, just ahead of Mattingly, as he shaved time off his personal record.
"If it's that (15.48), then it's a PR for sure," Marsh said after the 110 hurdles. "Getting out of the blocks… that's usually my best thing. I've just got to work on finishing the race."
Marsh said the friendly competition helps with other hurdlers like Mattingly, Palisade's Zane Haas and Moffat County's Jared Atkin.
"I love running with the Moffat County kid; he makes me faster for sure," said Marsh, who is right on the borderline of the top 18 Class 5A hurdlers. His status for the 110 and 300 hurdles is dependent upon the shaving of other teenagers across the state this weekend.
Saturday marked one of the finals days of competition for Marsh wearing the colors of Central High School. He's headed to Denver for his senior year. His father, Shawn Marsh, has taken the job as the head football coach at Eaglecrest High School.
Grand Junction sprinter Kade Christensen had a big shave Saturday in the 200 meters.
Christensen, who won the 100 meters at the Tiger Invitational earlier Saturday, doubled up to win the 200 as well.
His close shave in the 200 cut his time to 22.26 seconds, qualifying Christensen for the 5A state meet.
His time of 11.00 in the 100 also is a state-qualifying mark; it's at No. 12 in Class 5A.
"I still have to qualify for the 200; that's my main focus," Christensen said after his 100 victory early Saturday morning. He said he needed a strong 200 to make state.
"I need to go out hard and push the entire way," said Christensen, who went out hard and pushed the entire way — all the way to state.
His Grand Junction teammate, senior Colin Morrison, secured a state-qualifying berth in his fourth individual event at the Tiger Invitational — a rare feat, particularly in Class 5A.
Morrison, who had already qualified in the 110 hurdles, the 300 hurdles and the high jump, added the 400 meters to his state resume. Morrison ran a 49.92 time in the 400-meter prelims, within the top 18 in the state.
Morrison, who finished second in the high jump Saturday to Caden Galloway of Mancos, has cleared 6-6 this season. That's the second-best jump among 5A athletes.
Morrison is also ranked No. 5 in the 5A 300 hurdles (38.91).
Another Grand Junction sprinter, Ky Oday Jr., will join Morrison at state in the 400 meters.
Grand Junction's 400 relay team also solidified its qualifying time for state. The Tigers (Christensen, Morrison, Oday Jr., and Austin Hille) won the relay in 42.90 seconds, which is the seventh-best time in 5A.
The Tigers' 800 relay team also will represent Grand Junction at state. Grand Junction has the sixth-best time in 5A (1:29.50).
In other final events Saturday at the Tiger Invitational, Fruita Monument won the girls 800 relay with Elaina Arcand, Kristin Cook, Ashlyn Erekson and Aspen Hoffman (1:44.91). Durango was second. The Wildcats qualified for Class 5A state with Saturday's time.
Fruita Monument's Kristin Cook won the girls 200 (25.52) with a state-qualifying time. She previously qualified for the 100 meters at state.
MacGinley Zastrow of Fruita Monument finished first in the boys 800 (1:58.21). Luke Tichi of Durango was second. Zastrow's time likely will earn a spot in the Class 5A state meet next week.
Grand Junction won the boys 800 relay in 1:32.94 behind runners Christensen, Hille, Oday Jr. and Kaleb Crone.
Aiga Petelo of Fruita Monument had the winning throw in the girls discus (119-5). MacKenzie Younker of Grand Junction finished second. Both will compete at state next weekend.
Palisade's Alex MacAskill was the winner in the girls 400 (59.73). Elaina Arcand of Fruita Monument was second.
Alexis Chelle of Palisade won the girls 1,600 in 5:33.63. Grand Junction's Nina English was second.
Bryce Boggs of Fruita Monument won the boys 1,600 in 4:28.75. Durango's Paul Knight finished second.
Central won the boys 1,600 relay behind Marsh, Justin Blanton, Zach Warren and Kaelen Vance (3:29.68).
Alex Hise of Durango won the boys long jump (22-8). Cason Gisner of Fruita Monument was second, with teammate Ezekial Nunn third. Gisner has already qualified for 5A state in the triple jump and the long jump.
Montrose won the girls 800 medley relay with Aspen second.
Megan Jenkins of Cedaredge won the girls 100 hurdles (15.82) with Amelia Moore of Grand Junction second.
Anna Pylar of Durango finished first in the girls 300 hurdles (47.60). Remi Baldwin of Delta was second.
Coal Ridge won the girls 4x100 relay (50.36). Palisade finished second.
Montrose won the girls 1,600 relay with Durango second.
Caden Showalter of Mancos, who won the boys discus Friday, doubled with a win in the boys shot put on Saturday (48-8.75). Brother Show Showalter finished second.
Longtime track official George Ryan, a fixture at the shot put for decades, was honored Saturday for his years of service to high school track and field. A plaque bearing his name is located at the shot venue at Lincoln Park.