Listen to this post
RBC I Twenty Rio Blanco County track and field athletes (13 from Meeker and seven from Rangely) competed at the 2013 Colorado State Track and Field Championships at Jefferson County Stadium in Denver, and nine received medals on the podium, including one champion.
“The state meet was a huge success for our boys’ team,” Meeker head coach John Strate said. “The sixth-place finish overall was great, as it is always a big deal to finish in the top 10. Our entire boys’ team peaked at the right time and the improvement seen by everyone is what makes this so exciting.”
Meeker’s T.J. Shelton proved to be the fastest 2A sprinter in the state as the Cowboy freshman won the 100-meter dash with a personal best time. Shelton finished second in the 200-meter and anchored the third place 4×100 relay, helping his team to a top 10 finish.
“T.J. started the season running the 100 in 12.1 and ran his fastest time of the season in the finals with his 11.27,” Strate said. “He was sitting sixth heading into the state meet with his time of 11.46.”
Strate said the boys’ 4×100-meter relay team of Anthony Watt, Jeff Wagner, Tala Atoafa and Shelton had been running the relay in 46.5 seconds three weeks prior, then ran 44.99 in the finals.
“If these kids had not worked incredibly hard all season, both in the weight room and on the track, they would not have seen the results they did,” Strate said.
Ataofa also medaled in the 110-meter hurdles in which he placed sixth, one one-hundredth of a second behind Rangely’s Andrew Morton.
“On the girls’ side of things, it was an incredibly competitive state meet,” Strate said. “Our girls seemed to finish just out of scoring position in their events.”
Strate said Aly Ridings missed the finals in the 100-meter hurdles by .03 and the girls 4×100-meter relay team (Ridings, Linda Olivias, Taylor Ahrens and Sydney Hughes) was .02 from the finals.
Hughes did make it to the finals in the triple jump in an unusual way. Due to two ties in the event, 12 athletes advanced to the finals instead of the normal 10, and Hughes was the 12th to qualify. Strate said on Hughes’ last jump, she added a foot to her best jump, jumping 34-6, to put her in the seventh position on the podium.
Senior Bailey Atwood barely missed the finals in the shot put but was able to bounce back and place eighth in a very competitive field in the discus.
Aaron Cochran and Caleb Lange were on the 4×800-meter relay team and Ohana Mataia competed in the shot put, but none advanced to the finals.
“The athletes who did not place will all be back next year and they earned valuable experience,” Strate said. “We have a bunch of young athletes we expect big things from next year. We are losing four seniors out of the 40 athletes we had, and they will be missed for their scoring and their leadership.”
Rangely will also miss seniors Colton Coombs and Holly Lepro, who qualified and scored team points for the Panthers, and William Scoggins. All were plagued by injury or illness this season.
Coombs, who suffered a hamstring injury late in the season made the finals in the 100 meters, where he finished fourth with a time of 11.5, his best of the season, he did not make the finals in the 200.
Classmate Holly Lepro had a great season but missed a week of practice before the regional meet and didn’t regain all her strength.
Lepro set a school record in the discus with a throw (123-4) toward the end of the season and it was also the furthest throw in 2A this year. However, she could not match it in the regional or state meets, finishing fifth in the discus with a throw of 112. The event was won with a throw of 115-9. Lepro also earned a bronze medal in the shot put.
Scoggins did not start competing until late in the season due to an injury, and, although he did qualify for the state meet in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs, he did not have the conditioning needed to make the podium in either event his senior year.
Panther junior Morton qualified for the state meet in four events, placing fourth in the long jump with a leap of 20.4 and fifth in the 110 hurdles, to score team points. Morton did not make the finals in the triple or high jumps.
Morton’s classmate, Connor Phelan, ran the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes but did not make the final nine in either.
Sophomores Mitchell Webber qualified in both hurdle events and Colt Allred competed in the shot put in the preliminary heats and will be back next year.
“I am very proud of each and every one of my athletes this year,” head coach Stephanie Kahler said. “For those who went to state, I think we learned that getting to state is just the beginning, and being able to become mentally and physically ready for the big competition is something we need to work on. This experience was great, and, for the underclassmen, I look forward to more opportunities to work on their events and performances to ensure that they can remain focused throughout such a huge competition.”
Kahler was thankful for her assistant coaches James Kurrasch and Cody Brunton for their dedication to the athletes this season and said, “I also want to give a huge thanks to volunteer coaches Beth Scoggins and Wade Allred for donating their time, support and expertise to these hard-working athletes.”