Will Austin was a little surprised last Friday to be starting the finals of the 300-meter hurdles in lane four.
That's the coveted lane reserved for the racer with the fastest qualifying time, and Austin looked confident.
After a clean start, he cleared the second hurdle about a step behind Moki Youngquist of Dolores, who was the favorite to win going into the 2A Western Slope League meet.
But as they rounded the curve and headed down the stretch, Austin moved ahead, and finished in 43.04 seconds — more than a half a second ahead of Youngquist, and a half a second off of Thursday's qualifying time, for the win. "Having the Dolores kid right next to me, pushing me, it helped a lot," said Austin.
Earlier in the day, Austin had placed sixth in the 110 hurdles after being seeded fourth. That race was a little rough, said Austin. "I guess it kind of drove me a little bit more, made me push a little bit harder."
Austin has been pushing himself all season, shaving almost 3.5 seconds off of his time in the 300. The sophomore first competed in hurdles about mid-way through his freshman season, and Friday's win was his first. He'll enter state competition seeded 10th in 2A competition. He missed a state qualifying time in the 110 by about a quarter of a second.
Teammate Anthony Roeber placed third.
Austin credited lots of reps and help from Paonia principal Randall Palmer, a former college hurdler who worked with him throughout the season, for his improvement.
Paonia earned five golds in the two-day event, and scored 150 points to win the meet. Rangely placed second with 106 points. It was Paonia's fifth consecutive league title.
The 3200-meter relay team of Trevor Walters, Ben Justman, Jason Sturgis and Josiah Spano opened the meet with a winning time of 8:35.55 — the second-fastest 2A time recorded this season. The team is ranked second in state, behind Telluride.
Paonia's 1600 relay team of Spano, Walters, Roeber and Ben Justman also took the gold by more than 6 seconds, with a time of 3:42.48, and broke into the top 18 to qualify for state.
Walters, Justman and Spano swept the 800, with Walters finishing in 2:03.69. Walters and Justman posted state-qualifying times. This will be Walters' first state appearance in the 800. He qualified in 2011 in the 1600 and 3200; this year, he will compete at state in the maximum four events.
Sturgis placed second in the 3200 and will make a repeat appearance at state with a qualifying time of 10:42.25.
Thrower Morgan Rieder went into Thursday's discus competition ranked 21st. Rieder and teammate Myles Cumpston needed to hit at least 125 feet to qualify for state. Both made the finals, and on his second throw, Rieder hit 130 feet even to win the event.
"I figured I needed to throw farther than everyone else, so I did," said Rieder. "I know I could do it. I just had to think about it, just visualize it, really."
Cumpston, a senior, threw 117-07 to place third overall.
Roeber placed second in the high jump and fifth in the long jump.
The Paonia girls won seven golds and scored 187 points to win the 2A Western Slope League meet. This is their fourth consecutive league title.
The Lady Eagles swept the five relays, breaking all five standing league records and three school records in the process. The meet was held simultaneously with the San Juan League meet.
The team of Brooklynd Erickson, Easton Hartigan, Gabrielle Moet and Lindsey Russell won the 800-meter sprint medley, with Russell pulling ahead of the SJL's Dolores down the stretch to win in 1:53.85 and set a new school record. It's one of the first times this season for them to race against a 2A school.
"Other than the 4A schools and 3A schools, there's been no one, really, except for them," said Easton Hartigan after the win.
Moet is the team's only senior, but this will be her first state experience. Moet is an exchange student from Holland.
"I'm really excited. It's awesome," said Moet after the win. "I can't wait." Moet, who placed third in the 200, had never competed in track, but knew she was a fast runner, but getting to state was something she hadn't expected.
The 1600 team of Russell, Taylor Plymale, Reed and Taylor Polson beat out the San Juan League's Telluride team for the win. The two teams had battled back and forth throughout the season, most recently defeating TNT by 2/10ths of a second at Montrose.
"They kept changing their order on us," said head coach Brian Mitchem. This week, TNT put their two fastest runners at one and two. "Their strategy was to wear us down," said Mitchem. "Fortunately, we have two really strong runners who were able to make up ground."
Polson ran anchor, and pulled ahead in the final 10 yards for the win.
Ce'rra Carsten won the high jump at 4-10.5 and will return to state in that event. Carsten, Mandy Bushta and Moet were second, third and fourth respectively in the triple jump, and Carsten, Chelsea Martinez and Bushta all earned points in the long jump. Moet, Bushta, Erickson and Carsten will all compete at state in the long jump, and Carsten and Polson will compete in the triple.
In throwing, Morgan Hartigan and Kayla Lachney placed second and sixth in the shot put. Both will compete at state.blog comments powered by Disqus