EDWARDS — Is the champ on the ropes?
That could well be the case in girls track and field when it comes to all things Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley. After Tuesday’s Battle Mountain Invitational in Edwards, Huskies coach Rob Parish said the Devils, and not his Huskies, the three-time defending champions of the Western Slope, are the favorites.
“Eagle Valley is pretty balanced,” Parish said. “They have good jumpers and hurdlers and are loaded in the sprints. We’ll see how they manipulate athletes into different events, but I see them as the favorites.”
Parish is right on the sprinters. Looking at the state 18 as it sits now, Eagle Valley has been unloading a can of speed on the state with its medley, 400, 800 and 1,600 relay teams. Megan Asmussen and Carly Volkmer are in — as of now — the 100 and 400.
The Huskies have their traditional strength in the distances. Yes, it’s not over, but Val Constien’s a lock for state in the 800 and the mile. (Eagle Valley’s boys’ 3,200 relay may also proceed directly to Denver.) Battle Mountain also has athletes like Jessica Cuomo and Sofia Calabrese throwing and jumping, respectively, which is a non-traditional source of points for the team. So this may be some gamesmanship on Parish’s part.
“I think the great thing is that Eagle County will have the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the Western Slope,” Devils coach Jeff Shroll said diplomatically.
One element that both squads will have to negotiate in the final week and a half of the regular season is balancing getting relay teams and individuals in the state 18 versus going for the points at the league meet on May 10-11 in Grand Junction.
Before the state 18 was the qualifying criteria, athletes could qualify for state by meeting certain times at regular-season meets or being one of the top-three finishers at regionals. In 2008, that allowed Parish to run his big three of Jonny Stevens, John O’Neill and Tony Crisofulli in off-events because they were already qualified in their specialties, and the Huskies did indeed win the title. For example, Crisofulli ran the 400 to pick up points for the Huskies, even though the 800 was his true metier.
“You want to get or keep kids in state,” Shroll said. “I’m a little nervous. Maybe, we can’t make a true run at the league title. We’ll look at it. We hope we get in better position at the Tiger.”
The Tiger Invitational is Friday and Saturday for Eagle Valley in Grand Junction. Meanwhile, the Huskies will be trying to better times and distances at the St. Vrain Invitational on Friday.
Battle Mountain Invitational notes
In the team standings on Tuesday, the Battle Mountain girls got the better of their Eagle Valley counterparts as the Huskies and Devils went 1-2. That’s the reverse of the Eagle Valley Invitational when the Devils got the upper hand on April 5.
Always take regular season meets with a grain of salt. The Huskies and Devils were competing in off events and point totals were inflated because Parish and Shroll have an agreement for home meets allowing them to enter more athletes than normal in assorted events.
“It’s awesome to have the entire team run together,” said Shroll, who could have just as well been speaking for Parish. “I like local meets. When you’re traveling to faraway lands, parents often can’t come. It’s all about seeing the parents seeing their kiddos run.”
And jump, and throw.
One of the highlights for Eagle Valley was seeing Kenzie Sisson get 5 feet, 2 inches in the high jumps. She did that last weekend in Montrose, but it was a nice, warm day on Saturday. Matching that height in Edwards on a cold Tuesday is serious validation.
Cuomo threw the discus 112 feet, just 2 feet short of the school record. David Casas went 141-2 as well, tossing his name into the ring for state.
Since the odds of having a good time in the open 3,200 on a cold day at nearly 8,000 is nigh unto impossible, they didn’t run it. Instead, Parish and Shroll agreed upon the distance medley, which is a relay with legs of 800, 400, 1,200 and 1,600 meters. It’s good interval training for the distance runners, a nice change of pace and a chance for Parish to needle one of his assistant coaches, one Jonny Stevens.
Stevens thinks there should be a space on Battle Mountain’s record board for the distance medley. In a related development, Stevens, O’Neill, Crisofulli and Ryan Hedrick hold that Battle Mountain mark.
“I actually told (Ethan) Cotton and those guys that if they broke the record, I’d put it up on the board,” Parish joked.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.