Lakewood It couldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen Jorge Valdez play basketball that the Hayden High School junior makes a good high jumper. Valdez is long and lean, and in the winter he uses the hard court like a trampoline, flying high to rack up obscene rebound and blocking statistics.
For some reason he waited until midway through this track season to apply those skills to the high jump, and when he did, he got almost immediate results. Valdez used his natural gifts to soar to lofty heights Saturday, finishing fourth in the Class 2A boys high jump at the state track meet in Lakewood.
“That felt pretty good,” said Valdez, who entered as the No. 5 seed. “I was just trying to get higher than I was ranked, and it worked out.”
Valdez spent all of last track season and most of this one with his competitive attention focused elsewhere. He had tried high jumping, he said, and it hadn’t gone well. With four meets remaining in this spring’s regular season, he finally opted to give it another shot.
That first meet, after one day of practice, he only cleared 5 feet, 6 inches. Only a month later, he managed to add 7 inches to that mark.
This weekend, he advanced easily through 6 feet, hit the bar once at 6-1, then missed three times to fall from the competition at 6-2.
Placing fourth in his fifth meet was just fine for Valdez, who already was thinking about how many more inches he could add by next year’s state meet.
“I’ll be back next year,” he said, “and I’ll be going for first.”
Routt County’s high school athletes picked up two more medals on the final day of the state track meet, adding highlights to a weekend that saw some of Hayden and Soroco’s best chances for championships come up short. Hayden and Soroco finished with a combined seven medals.
Tigers senior Aubree Haskins added to the haul Saturday, finishing fifth in the discus. Rain controlled the first part of the day, delaying many of the morning’s events. The rain still was falling when Haskins took to the discus ring, and that added factor slowed all the throwers.
Still, she managed to get her best throw off first. Her first official throw of the day soared 104 feet, 1 inch, and she never topped it. She didn’t need to. That throw put her in finals and set her in fifth.
Emily Lathen, of Vanguard, won the event with a throw of 112-11.
“The rain made it difficult. The ring was slippery and we were all iffy about it,” Haskins said. “I’m pretty happy with where I ended up.”
Hayden also got a strong performance from Savannah Williams, who finished 12th in the 1,600 meters a day after she was 10th in the 3,200 meters.
Williams entered the 1,600 ranked 14th, hung in a pack of a half-dozen runners and sat in 10th at the start of the final lap. She finished in 5 minutes, 48.01 seconds, and said that was a fine way to finish her season.
“I just gave it all I had,” Williams said about the final lap.
Soroco’s AJ Anderson was among six boys high jumpers who didn’t clear a height Saturday.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com