Grand Junction Soroco High School's Alex Estes, who had only four days of long jump practice this season because he also played for the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team, won the event Friday at the regional track and field tournament in Grand Junction. In the process, he also set a school record with his jump of 20 feet, 6 inches.
"I knew I could jump 20 (feet), but I wasn't expecting much more than 20," Estes said. "I had been hitting that in practice. I did not think I was going to win it all. I knew there were some good people out there. I just wanted to get third and get to state."
In addition to Estes, four other Rams qualified for today's finals. The team also has a legitimate shot at qualifying five of its relay teams into the state championships.
"We're really pleased with everything," Soroco coach David Bruner said. Today "is a big day for us. We've got a lot of relays, and we've got those kids in the finals. Hopefully we do well."
Amanda Wilson (100-meter hurdles in 18.24 seconds), Glenda Long (100-meter dash in 13.29 seconds), Traci Schlegel (300-meter hurdles in 50.17 seconds), and Sarajane Rossi (400-meter dash in 1:02.34) all advanced to today's finals.
Rossi qualified first in the open 400, and Schlegel ran her best time of the year.
Sophomore Matt Watwood just missed making state in the discus, finishing fourth with a throw of 125-11. Dennis Morgan came in sixth with a throw of 117-03.
Soroco will now look to its relays and try to qualify the boys 1,600-meter team and the girls 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays as well as the sprint medley.
"We just have to get a good night's rest, get here early in the morning and come out and run like we have all year," Bruner said.
Hayden qualifies relay
The Hayden High School track and field team moves into the second day of the regional meet having qualified the girls 3,200-meter relay team and sophomore Jake Walker in the long jump.
The team of Delanie Vedepo, Laura Zirkle, Krista Tomke and Calla Manzanares finished with a time of 11:46.31, just good enough for third place.
Walker finished second to Estes in the long jump, carding a jump of 19-3 3/4.
"It could always be better," Walker said. "But I'm happy."
Walker also goes into today's 100-meter dash final as the top seed after running an 11.67. Coy Letlow also made the finals in the 100- (11.95) and the 200-meter dashes (23.81).
Caitlyn Mahanna and Kirsten Miller qualified for today's finals in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing with times of 17.52 and 17.86, respectively.
Hayden had a couple of bad breaks in the boys 3,200-meter relay and the high jump. While the boys relay team ran a school record time of 9:30.82, the team finished one spot out of qualifying for state.
Then in the high jump, Murphy Smartt caught a spike on his last jump at 6-1 and finished fourth.
"That's a heart breaker," Hayden coach Barbara Manzanares said.
Still, Manzanares said she's excited to see how today's relays - specifically the boys 400- and 800-meter teams - finish.
It also will be a chance for junior Holli Salazar to claim a regional title in the shot put. Salazar finished fifth in the discus Friday.
"It was a great opening day, for sure," Manzanares said. "We did well, and I am looking forward to (today). Right now, we got five for sure. Now we want a couple more."
Steamboat sees top times
Steamboat got personal bests from several athletes and relays but was unable to advance any person or team to state.
Brittany Long ran her best time in the 1,600-meter run, finishing in 5:39.18, Charlie Stoddard ran his best in the 1,600 with a 4:46.94, and Carl Steele threw his best in the discus with a throw of 118 feet.
The boys 3,200-meter team of Stoddard, John Cutter, Peter Daley and Tyler Hutson also ran a season-best time of 8:42.90 but finished seventh.
Hutson qualified for the finals in today's 200- and 400-meter dashes. Hutson's chances of qualifying in the 400 got much better Friday when two of the top runners came up lame with hamstring injuries. Long also has a great chance to qualify for state in today's 3,200-meter run.
"It was a mixed bag for us," Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. "Some good stuff and some was disappointing. Tyler had a really good day. Even the distance kids who didn't get to where they wanted to be still did a good job and competed well."