Grand Junction There aren't too many sprint races in the world that a walker can win.
But when you ask the other 100-meter sprinters from Hayden who made the Saturday boys finals at the Class 2A Regional Track and Field Championships who's the most likely of their teammates to win, you get the same answer - Jake Walker.
The modest freshman had no trouble hanging with Grand Valley's Sam McKinley for most of the dash, finishing second in 11.56 seconds.
"I just wanted to stick with him in the beginning and then he pulled away," Walker said. "My start is the fastest part, and then I sort of top out."
Walker wasn't the only athlete to earn the top-three finish necessary to qualify for Friday and Saturday's state meet in Pueblo. Zathan Bark finished right behind Walker in third.
And it didn't end there - the 100-meter field also featured Coy Letlow, who scored a point for the Tigers with his eighth-place finish.
The stacked group of sprinters combined forces Saturday with Sam Kopsa for a volatile relay squad that cleaned up with a pair of regional titles.
Walker anchored exciting finishes in the boys 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relays, barely out-sprinting opponents to earn wins by a combined total of only 22/100 of a second.
"We had a late handoff, but rocked it - I'm happy," Kopsa of the 4-by-200, noting that the team beat its personal record by two seconds.
The four Tigers were not the only sprinters to qualify for state. Billy Zehner took third in a close boys 110-meter hurdles class.
"My steps were all messed up - I led with my right (leg), which I never do," Zehner said. "It was my personal best, but I feel like I could do better."
Already having pre-qualified for the shot put, Holli Salazar added a little icing to the cake by earning a second-place finish for the Tigers after throwing 35 feet, 10.75 inches. Emily Whiteman missed qualification by just a foot, finishing in fourth with a 34-2.5 toss.
The girls 4-by-800 relay team of Maddison Kopsa, Ashlee Doolin, Laura Zirkle and Calla Manzanares also missed qualification by a slim margin, finishing fourth behind Crested Butte.
The Hayden boys finished in eighth place in team rankings, and the girls finished in 12th. Seventeen schools competed.