Cowboy harriers open season in Rifle

MEEKER I The Meeker High School track and field team got off to a good start Friday with good weather and solid competition in Rifle. The Cowboys are looking forward to a record-breaking season, returning several harriers with state experience.
“We are lucky to have so many state qualifiers returning,” head coach John Strate said of the 12 state qualifiers on this year’s team. “We have some great leaders that know how much hard work it takes to compete at the top level.”

The Cowboys will be led by seniors Sydney Hughes, Linda Olivas, Jake Phelan and Tristin Pelloni, all state qualifiers. Halle Ahrens, Peyton Burke, Julia Eskelson, Maggie Phelan, Reese Pertile, Madi Russell, TJ Shelton and Cole Brown, all return with state experience.
Because of the state basketball tournament, some did not compete in Rifle, where the team was led by juniors Shelton and Jake Henderson. Shelton won the 100-meter in 11.48, and the 200 meter with a 23.56. Shelton also made his debut in the 400 meter, running 53.57 for fourth place.
“Henderson had a great day as well, earning points for the team in his career debut of the 110-meter hurdles,” Strate said. “His time of 17.89 earned him eighth place and shows he has a large amount of potential in this very technical event.”
Henderson also scored points in the triple jump with a leap of 38 feet 4.5 inches, earning fifth, and he wasn’t done yet, placing eighth in the 300-meter hurdles.
In the throws, junior Noah Overton led the way in the shot put with 38 feet 11 inches placing him seventh. Sophomore Caleb Bradford made his track and field debut in promising fashion, barely missing the finals in the shot put with his throw of 35 feet 9 inches.
Although the rest of the boys squad finished out of scoring, there were many promising finishes, Strate said.
“Junior Marshal Pool and sophomore Austin Russell will lead a young but strong distance team this season and sophomore Cole Brown earned career bests in each of his events, showing the benefit of off-season workouts.”
There were also many promising performances from the girls. Junior thrower Sarah Gerloff hit 80 feet 6.5 inches in the discus, a mark eight feet better than her career best and good enough for seventh place.
The 4×100 meter relay of Linda Olivas, Sierra Williams, Avery Watt, and Madison Russell had an impressive outing, finishing in 54.48, tying them with Glenwood Springs for second place. Freshmen Watt and Williams earned fifth and sixth place finishes, respectively, in the 400-meter, with Watt running 67.01 and Williams finishing in 67.24.
Strate said sophomore Julia Eskelson competed well in the 1600-meter and the 3200-meter after just a few practices.
“Overall the girls’ team looks to be highly competitive this year after returning the majority of their state qualifiers,” Strate said. “Both teams look forward to the return of the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams next week.”
“Our team is fortunate to be under the tutelage of Kris Casey, Pat Ibach, Ben Quinn, Shane Phelan, Terrence Casias and Brittany Shubnell,” Strate said. “Heather Burke is a welcomed addition to the staff and will be very beneficial for the hurdlers. Most of these coaches are volunteers and give an incredible amount of time to our kids. We are also very appreciative of the work Darby Finley put in to set up the team’s weight room routine.”