Competing against one of the fastest runners in the state has its benefits. In Friday's 400-meter race at Cedaredge, sophomore Alex Smith kept pace with Coal Ridge's Raul Oyarzabal, ranked first in 3A Western Slope competition and seventh in state, and finished second.
His time of 51.99 seconds also puts him in fourth place in state 2A rankings. Prior to the race, Smith was ranked 20th.
Smith, who set the middle school record in the 400m, doesn't check the rankings of his competitors before each race. "I like to go out and run my race," he said. "I always like to be surprised and see what happens."
Smith is one of many strong Bulldog runners this season. The boys team is one of the best that Hotchkiss has fielded since 2000, when they placed second in the state 3A tournament and just two points shy of tying for first, said head coach Kelly Cowan.
All four relay teams are ranked in the top 10 in state, and the 1600m and 3200m teams have been ranked first throughout most of the season. The team also has strong competitors in hurdles, discus and jumping events.
The boys team scored 88 points and placed third, and first among 2A teams, at the 11-team meet.
Smith called this year's team "Amazing. We work hard every week," said Smith after his 400 race. "We take our practices very seriously. We are here to act professionally, to go out there and do the best we can in our events."
Cody Bartlett and Andrew Tiedeman took gold and silver respectively in the 1600m Friday. Bartlett's time of 4:34.06 set a meet record. It was one of 12 boys meet records to fall.
Keegan Palmer won the triple jump with a distance of 40 feet, 8.75 inches. River Panish placed second in the triple (40'-1") and sixth in the long jump (18-08.25).
Chris Allen cleared 5-05 to place fifth in the high jump, Kurt Katzdorn placed seventh in the 800 (2:10.16), and the 400m relay team of Kaan Uyugur, Panish, Smith and Mason Oxford placed fifth.
In discus, senior Mason Oxford placed third out of 52 throwers with a distance of 127-06, while freshman brother Clayton Oxford set a freshman class record to place sixth with a throw of 119-10. "Pretty cool," said Oxford, who was inspired to throw by his older brother.
Mason is ranked second in the Western Slope league.
The 1600m and 3200m relays are favored to win the gold at this week's 2A Western Slope League meet, which opens Friday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.
Bartlett is ranked first in the 1600m and the 800m; Tiedeman is ranked fourth in the 800m and Smith is fifth. They make three-fourths of the 3200m team that is favored to win this year's state title.
As with several of his teammates, Smith has qualified for state in more events than he is allowed to compete in. The limit is four. Smith anticipates running at league and state in two individual events and two relays. He's looking forward to running at this week's league meet, and to returning to the state meet after running on the 1600m relay as a freshman. "I got thrown in some relays with some great athletes," said Smith. "Tell Hawk, Vikash Hypio. They showed me the way and I want to keep it going."
The girls team scored 76 points to place fifth at the Bruin Invitational. Jennifer Celis topped her own meet record to win the 400m dash with a time of 57.27 seconds.
Celis' time also broke the Hotchkiss High School record of 57.36, set in 1997 by Loraine Masterson. Celis also holds the school record in the 800m.
Natalie Anderson finished third in the 800m run. Her time of 2:24.5 was one of four that topped the meet record in the event.
Sprinter Kelli Buhrdorf placed second in the 100m (13.12), and in the 200m (27.24). The 800m relay team of Katie Parsons, Chase Bizer, Sophia Schelle and Buhrdorf finished second (1:47.07) and was one of three teams to top the meet record. The foursome also placed fourth in the medley.
Mae Anderson placed second in the 1600 with a new personal-best time of 5:35.31. Mae and Natalie Anderson, Parsons and Celis finished third in the 1600m relay.
In throwing, Kylie Hodges placed third in the discus (107-06), and Daryl Batt was sixth (99-01); Hodges also finished fourth in the shot put (34-01.75).
"We had some good things happen," said coach Kelly Cowan. "Overall we saw some good improvement in a variety of areas."
With several female and male athletes either qualified for state or within striking range of qualifying, it'll be a challenge figuring out who will compete where in order to maximize points and state qualifications, said Cowan. But it's a good problem to have. "It's fun. It is. It's enjoyable," he said of coaching this year's teams. "They're all hard workers. They don't take it for granted. They keep working to improve times. They look at those records and chase after those. That makes it a lot of fun."blog comments powered by Disqus