MHS track team opens season in Rifle; returns 10 state placers

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MEEKER | The Meeker High School track teams competed for the first time this season in Rifle last Friday and performed well, winning three individual events. One relay earned top honors for the girls. After a successful season last year, more than 50 boys and girls are out for the team this season. The team has been practicing on their new track and they have even revived an old event, the pole vault, this season.
“We are really excited about our new facility and adding pole vault this season,” Meeker head coach John Strate said. “With the returning state qualifiers and placers from last year, as well as some new additions, we should have a lot more depth on our girls’ relays.”
The Cowboys only graduated one senior (Marshal Pool) from last year’s team and returns 16 with state track experience, including 10 state placers.
Seniors Maggie Phelan, Madison Russell, Loran Casias and junior Sierra Williams all return after setting a school record last year in the 800-meter medley relay and placing ninth at the state meet. Gracie Bradfield, Peyton Burke, Halle Ahrens, Avery Watt, Julia Eskelson, Caleb Bradford and Austin Russell also earned spots on the pedestal at the state meet.
Megan Shelton, Sydnie Main, Cole Brown, Josh Cochran and Tannen Kennedy will return with state experience and some already put it to good use in Rifle.
Meeker thrower Shelton won the shot put and Main won the discus in their first meet of their sophomore year, while classmate Gracie Bradfield won the 200-meter dash. Bradfield was also the anchor on the 4×100 relay team, who along with Casias, Ahrens and Burke won the 4×100 relay.
The Meeker girls finished fourth in a field of 22 teams, which featured many large schools.
“We had a great start at the Rifle meet,” coach Strate said. “The weather was excellent and the competition was stiff. Eagle Vally, Battle Mountain and Grand Junction were the only teams to finish ahead of us.”
Coach Strate said Phelan also scored points in the 400-meter dash and the 4×200 relay (Krisi and Kassi Luce, Burke and Williams) and 4×400 relay (Williams, Phelan, MaKenna Burke and Julia Dinwiddie), also added to the team score.
The boys’ team also fared well their first meet of the season and were led by seniors Cole Brown and Austin Russell, Bradford did not compete. Brown had a personal best in the 100-meter dash and just missed the finals in the long jump. Russell ran the 1,600 and 3,200 runs but his coach said he was “battling an illness.”
“After his strong finish last year at the state meet, as well as his performance at the state cross country meet, we are looking for big things out of Austin,” coach Strate said. “We should be able to put some competitive boys relays together with the leadership of Brown and Russell.”
Kris Casey, Terrence Casias, Brittany Shubnell, Shane Phelan and Ben Quinn are assisting Strate with the coaching duties this year.
The Cowboys will compete next in Cedaredge on April 1 after spring break.