Photo by Tamie Meck Paonia’s Ashley Van Vleet runs Saturday in the 3200m relay at the Delta Invitational. The Eagles track teams used the meet, the first of their season, to try out different events and test skills. Van Vleet was first in the 400 and second in the 200.With several of their members still making the transition from winter to spring sports, Paonia's track teams were missing several athletes.
But that didn't stop them from making a strong first showing at Saturday's Delta Invitational track meet. The boys team, led by a first-place finish in the 3200-meter relay, scored 38 points to place sixth. The girls earned 75.5 points to finish third. It was the first meet of the season for both teams.
This meet is mostly about getting the kids out and seeing what they can do in actual competition, said head coach Brian Mitchem. It was also about getting out and enjoying the spring weather and having fun. "And we accomplished that."
Freshman Ashley Van Vleet claimed the only gold for the girls' team, winning the 400-meter dash in 1 minute, 1.96 seconds. Teammate Lindsay Russell placed second in 1:04.52, and Laura Lund finished eighth. In a tight 200-meter field, Van Vleet finished fourth, less than a second behind first place, with a time of 28.32.
Van Vleet's performance didn't surprise head coach Brian Mitchem. But, he said, "She is running faster than I thought she would for this time of the season."
In relays, the 3200m team of Van Vleet, Deon Jensen, Taylor Polson and Chelsea Meilner finished fourth.
In distance races, Jensen ran the 3200m in 13:23.94 to place second. Meilner completed the 1600 in just under 6 minutes to place third, with Jensen finishing fifth.
Returning state qualifier Morgan Hartigan opened the season with a shot put throw of 32 feet, 6.75 inches to place second. Hartigan also finished sixth in the 100m.
Senior Ce'rra Carsten placed in all three jumping events, clearing 31 feet, 1 inch to place fourth in the triple jump and 4-9 to finish fourth in the high jump. Carsten was seventh in the long jump.
The 400m sprint relay team of Carsten, Easton Hartigan, Morgan Hartigan and Marisa Edmondson clocked a time of 55 seconds to finish seventh out of 16 teams.
In boys competition, the 3200-meter relay team of Ethan Ferguson, Jacob Helleckson, Jesse Reed and Jeramiah Hillman claimed the only gold for the boys team with a time of 9:27.34. The 1600m team of William Austin, Hillman, Reed and Austin Katzer placed fifth.
In individual events, Cameron Van Vleet finished sixth in the 400m, Reed ran the 800m in 2:18.47 to finish third, and Helleckson was fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:26.5.
Austin, a junior and returning state qualifier in hurdles, placed in both hurdle events, finishing third in the 300 with a time of 44.36, and seventh in the 110-meter high hurdles.
Paonia will compete this Saturday at the Hotchkiss Invitational.