Grand Junction Eighteen area athletes will represent Routt County at the upcoming state track meet following an onslaught of outstanding performances at the Western Slope Regional gathering at Stoker Stadium May 10-11.
Steamboat Springs will send sprinters Lennae Jenkins and Jessica Flores and distance runner Ian Ramsay to the Class 4A meet. All three are seniors and all three finished a disappointing fourth last year at the regional meet. The top three finishers in both the individual and relay events advance, and this year all three made sure they weren't left out again.
"Even if we get smoked at state it's still cool to go as seniors," Jenkins said.
After posting a 16.74 in Friday's 100-meter hurdle preliminaries, Flores said she had room for improvement. Saturday, she kept her word, clearing the hurdles in 16.38 to finish third.
Jenkins had little trouble disposing of the field in the open 400, posting a personal best 60.99 to beat her closest competitor from Rifle by exactly two seconds.
"I went on a long jog and actually broke a sweat before my race just like my coaches tell me to do," Jenkins said. "I felt pretty good before and after my race."
Her pre-race routine worked well, but Jenkins said she had hoped to be pushed harder by the field. Her wish likely will be granted in Denver.
Ramsay did receive some assistance from his 1,600-meter finals field Friday. Despite finishing fourth, the pace established by the top runners pushed Ramsay to post a personal-best 4:35.03, which ended up being .03 under the state's preset, automatic qualification standard.
Several of Hayden's athletes entered the regional meet having previously met the Class 2A prequalification times or heights as well. One of them, freshmen Kayla Kostur, already heading to Pueblo in the high jump, locked up a triple jump bid with a second-place leap of 31'8 3/4" on Friday.
In addition to the performances of Jenkins and Flores, Saturday also proved to be a successful day for the Hayden and Soroco sprinters. Tigers Kevin Miller and Jacques Denker were headed to state in both the 100 and 200 events with previously posted times, but Miller thought he would solidify that automatic bid by finishing second in the 100 and posting a season-best 22.9 in the 200.
The two also teamed up with Derek Stephenson and Glen Frentress in the Western Slope Regional Champion 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. The foursome broke a meet record with a 1:32.91 in the 4x200.
Stephenson, the anchor leg in the 4x100, said there is plenty of room for improvement within those times, and he figured the week of preparation prior to the state meet was going to be focused on one area in particular.
"We'll be working on handoffs," Stephenson said. "It will probably by a real tough week of practice."
The Hayden boys weren't the only ones locking up bids to state on Saturday. The Tigers girls enjoyed their own share of success at Stocker Stadium. Senior Kristin Brown was busy on Saturday, starting things off with a first-place finish in the 100 hurdles with a time of 17.01. She followed that up with a second-place finish in the 300 hurdles in a time of 50.46.
"That race is so hard," Brown said. "I was told as a freshmen to run it and I did well enough that they left me in it."
She also succeeds when the hurdles are removed from the track. Brown, along with Samantha Schoeberl, Lauren Branstetter and Jaclyn Etzler finished second in the 4x100 relay. Things shuffled a bit for the 4x200 relay but Schoeberl, Andrea Deepe, Brown and Etzler ultimately got the same pleasant result a trip to the state track meet.
Etzler and Branstetter also qualified for the trip to Pueblo individually. Branstetter ran a 64.74 to finish in the top three in the 400, and Etzler came in a surprise second in the open 100 in a time of 13.47.
"I was thinking maybe I'd make state in a relay," Etzler said. "Then when I got second in the 100 I was like 'holy cow.'"
Soroco freshman sprinting sensation Andy deGanahl will also be representing his school in both individual and relay events. He teamed up with CJ Remick, Joel Manzanerus and Trevor Ellis in the third-place finishing 4x400 relay team.
Prior to anchoring that relay, he turned in another dazzling 400-meter performance in the open event. With a time of 52.75, he took second and followed that with a 23.59 time in the open 200, sandwiched between Hayden's Miller and Stephenson.
"We let him run the 100 and 200," said Soroco assistant coach Gary Heide. "But after seeing him run you know he's built for the 400. He is so smooth."
Big sister Jessie deGanahl wasn't about to let her brother steal the show. She earned her ticket to Pueblo with a third-place finish in both the 100 and 300 hurdles.
Overall, Hayden had the best showing of all the Routt County teams as expected. The boys and girls both placed third in the 17-team Class 2A field.
The boys finished behind West Grand and Mancos with a total of 76 points. The girls came up short against both Crested Butte and Mancos with a total of 53 points.
Both state meets get under way on May 17. Steamboat will be at Jeffco Stadium in Denver, while Hayden and Soroco will be at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo. The meets conclude on May 18.