Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain take respective boys and girls team titles at Western Slope League track and field championships
Kraft wins league MVP, Brunner sets two-school records and Lady Huskies win eight-straight team title
Kaden Kraft might have found something with this track thing.
The Eagle Valley junior was named the Western Slope League track and field championships MVP last weekend in Grand Junction after winning the 100 and 400-meter dashes, placing second in the 200, and anchoring the Devils’ winning 4×100-meter relay. Kraft, who joined the team this year, helped Eagle Valley claim its first WSL boys team title in almost ten years.
“It was kind of fun to be back in the winners circle again,” head coach Jeff Shroll, who was named the boys coach of the year, said before offering praise to the girls coach of the year, Battle Mountain’s Rob Parish. The Huskies were equally dominant on the girls side, taking their eighth-straight league title and 11th in the last 13 seasons.
- Battle Mountain High School 180
- Glenwood Springs High School 121
- Summit High School 91
- Palisade High School 84.50
- Eagle Valley High School 58.50
- Steamboat Springs High Sc 49
- Eagle Valley High School 176
- Battle Mountain High School 105
- Steamboat Springs High School 86
- Palisade High School 68
- Summit High School 67
- Glenwood Springs High School 54
Parish said the league meet is his favorite track or cross-country competition.
“Everybody has a say in the outcome,” he argued, adding the team spirit and collective energy was palpable everywhere from team meals to warm-ups.
Support Local Journalism
“It’s such a positive, fun, ‘we’re-all-in-this-together’ vibe. And it manifests itself in great results — team and individual.”
Kraft, only a junior, won the league honor via coach vote.
“I’m really excited for him,” Shroll said. “His leadership has kind of transformed our whole team makeup. To win all those events was really just a great day for him.”
If Kraft was the Devils’ headliner, Will Brunner carried the torch for the Huskies, setting school records in his 800 (1:55.94) and 1600-meter (4:16.96) victories in addition to running a 51-second anchor leg on the winning 4×400-meter relay to close the two-day meet. Brunner might own every Husky record from the 800 through 5,000-meters, but his junior classmate Porter Middaugh is just tenths away in three of those four events. Throw in Eagle Valley’s Jake Drever — who did a little record-book rewriting last weekend, too — and Summit star Dominykas Remeikis and one can understand why the distance events were the spicy races coming in.
“Any one of those four — in most leagues in most states — they’d win everything,” Parish said.
“It’s a great rivalry and it’s fun to watch all of them,” Shroll added.
Middaugh opened things up Friday by winning the 3200-meters in a hard-fought battle with Drever and Remeikis. After sharing the load in the early goings, Drever and Middaugh separated with 300-meters remaining as the pace ratcheted up.
“Jake threw some haymakers in there with 300-to-go and 200-to-go,” Parish commented. “You would have thought he had it, but Porter just has some really incredible closing speed.”
Middaugh’s 61-second final revolution and 9:28.72 pulled Drever to another altitude school record (9:29.02) as Remeikis finished third (9:33.73). Cooper Filmore (9:54.28) and Dylan Blair (10:02.30) were fifth and sixth, adding depth points — an Eagle Valley hallmark throughout the weekend.
“We scored a lot of points in pretty much all the events and that’s what’s key to it,” Shroll said.
Drever and Remeikis, both potent one-lap speedsters in their own rights, returned later in the evening for the boys 800-meter to face Brunner, who knew he needed to zap his rivals energy immediately. The VMS student blasted from the gun.
“His 800 was stunning,” Parish said. “I’ve hardly seen a race at any level run like that, where he wanted to run it fast and he ran it fast from the very beginning.”
Brunner split consecutive high-57s to post a 1:55.94 over Remeikis’ 1:57.20. Drever was third in a commendable 1:58.37, with teammate Armando Fuentes finishing fourth.
On the following day, all four met in the 1600. Remeikis and Drever shared the lead for two laps, Middaugh took over on the third, and Brunner dusted everyone on the fourth, wining by over a second as the Huskies went 1-2. Middaugh’s 4:18.01 would have bested Battle Mountain’s prior school record and Drever’s 4:21.69 in fourth was the Devils’ new program best. Remeikis finished third (4:20.52).
“Jake is having a tremendous season,” stated Eagle Valley distance coach Myriah Blair. “His hard work, tenacity and competitive fire shows each and every day.”
The girls distance races were star-powered as well, with Summit’s Ella Hagen taking two wins in the 3200 and the 1600. Hagen couldn’t dethrone defending 800-meter champion Lindsey Kiehl, however, as the Husky used a lethal final 150-meters to win her second straight league title in 2:16.27.
“She’s a strong runner and has great endurance, but she has wheels, too,” Parish said of Kiehl, who was also third in the 1600 (5:11.96) and ran on the winning 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams. Senior Milaina Almonte, whom Parish said might be “the program’s most consistent high-level performer ever,” was runner-up to Hagen in the 3200, came back to place third in the 800 later Friday night, placed second in the 1600 the next day, and finished the meet winning the 4×400-meter relay.
“In a normal year, she would have been the athlete of the meet, but, you have Ella Hagen, one of the top-20 runners in the country, in your region, and that’s just the way it goes,” Parish said.
“I think she had one of the best individual female league meets that we’ve ever had.”
The Huskies also relied heavily on their sprint strength, nearly sweeping the relay slate. Parish praised the sprint core of Kiki Hancock, Tabi Schroeder, Marlee Geisler, Angelina Damici, Isabella Zastrow and Presley Smith for their versatility.
“What a luxury to have them,” he said. “No matter what they’re in — they’ve been phenomenal.”
Eagle Valley’s sprint depth was critical for both boys and girls squads as well. Kevin Hasley picked up two well-earned titles in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles, carrying Eagle Valley’s hurdle legacy torch lit by Chris and Brad Gamble in the early 2000s.
“Those events weren’t gifted to him,” Shroll said of Hasley, who has hovered just outside the state-qualifying top-18 throughout the season, but has set new personal bests weekly.
“He has busted his butt to get there and I’m super proud of him to take gold in both hurdle events. We haven’t had that in a long time either.”
Hasley, who will hop in the 4×200-meter relay this weekend at St. Vrain as the Devils try to qualify all three sprint relays to state, has improved largely on the basis of fitness and technique gains.
Presley Smith, 400-meter dash – 59.81
Lindsey Kiehl, 800-meter run – 2:16.27
Girls 4×100-meter relay – 51.98 (Angelina Damici, Marlee Geisler, Tabi Schroeder, Kiki Hancock)
Girls 4×200-meter relay – 1:49.53 (Tabi Schroeder, Marlee Geisler, Angelina Damici, Kiki Hancock)
Girls 4×400-meter relay – 4:09.25 (Presley Smith, Isabella Zastrow, Lindsey Kiehl, Milaina Almonte)
Girls 4×800-meter relay – 10:01.03 (Kira Hower, Lindsey Whitton, Addie Beuche, Lindsey Kiehl)
Tyler Heimerl, high jump – 5-2
Tyler Heimerl, triple jump – 35-3
Will Brunner, 800 – 1:55.94
Will Brunner, 1600 – 4:16.96
Porter Middaugh, 3200 – 9:28.72
Boys 4×400-meter relay – 3:32.49 (Jorge Sinaloa, Jacob Methvin, Porter Middaugh, Will Brunner, )
Quinn Thuon, pole vault – 10-6
Cooper Skidmore, discus – 126-10
Cooper Skidmore, shot put – 40-5
Kenzie Cosper, pole vault – 10-4
Kaden Kraft, 100-meter dash – 11.55
Kaden Kraft, 400-meter dash – 52.31
Kevin Hasley, 110-meter hurdles – 16.69
Kevin Hasley, 300-meter hurdles – 42.70
Boys 4×100-meter relay – 45.29 (Kingston Clous, Jonathan Boyer, Bordy Nielsen, Kaden Kraft)
Boys 4×800-meter relay – 8:35.44 (Armando Fuentes, Cooper Filmore, Charles Schafer, Daniel Valasco)
“Going over the hurdles, he really looks beautiful. From a form-perspective, he’s really getting there,” Shroll noted.
“He lifts and does a lot of things that just make him stronger. Strength equals speed and you put all those things together and that’s where his success is coming from.”
On the girls side, Shroll praised Zakia Shreeve, who had season bests in both the 100-meter hurdles (16.59, second place) and 300-meter hurdles (47.36 in the prelims, 48.76 for fourth in the finals) Haley Bates and LIllian Mulholland-Brueck. Mulholland-Brueck was fifth and sixth in both hurdles, respectively, and fourth in the 200 while Bates finished sixth in the 100 and seventh in the 200. All ran on the second-place sprint medley team.
The lone league champion for the Lady Devils was pole vaulter Kenzie Cosper, whose 10-4 leap was two-inches from the school record and two inches from winning the boys meet, too.
“That also speaks highly of Kenzie,” Shroll stated of the latter anecdote with a chuckle.
Quinn Thuon took the pole vault crown for Battle Mountain and Cooper Skidmore (discus and shot put) and Tyler Heimerl (triple jump and high jump) each won a pair of field events as well.
“He’s one of our captains and one of our most valuable kids in so many ways,” Parish said of Skidmore, seemingly summarizing the ethos of the league meet in the process.
“He’s so positive and versatile and does whatever we need him to do — and to get two wins in the throws was fantastic.”
Both teams will compete at the HOKA St. Vrain Invitational on May 12. The state track meet is May 18-20 in Lakewood.
Full league meet results are available on co.milesplit.com.