Battle Mountain shines at state track
DENVER – What Battle Mountain’s Amelia Ortiz said after the state track meet Saturday speaks volumes.
“It was honestly the best ending to my high school running career I could ask for,” Ortiz said. “I can’t thank those girls enough. All I wanted to do was hit the podium and they carried me there.”
Um, actually Battle Mountain track and field thanks you and fellow senior David Shearon for helping lead the Huskies out of obscurity and into the state spotlight this year. But the mere fact that an athlete with Ortiz’s resume – four times qualified for state in cross country; four more state appearances in Nordic skiing and three years in track – would thank her team is a sign of what happened to Battle Mountain this season.
First of all, there was a team at state. In 2009, the Huskies sent Ortiz and Connor Tedstrom. In 2010, it was Ortiz and Shearon. This year, Battle Mountain had 15 athletes at state.
And the Huskies did well. Ortiz got to the podium in the 3,200-meter relay with sister, Mandy Ortiz, Val Constein and Tesha Olsen. They weren’t the only ones.
“Over the last two years, we sent a total of four kids, two each year,” said Huskies coach Jeff Krumlauf, who leads the team with Ken Long and a myriad of other specialists. “With the new ranking system (top 18 in the state as opposed to regional qualifying), the kids bought into the program – have fun, run for personal bests and let the chips fall where they may. Great things occurred. Even at state, we were having better times and jumps, and having a great time doing it.”
The relays and the seniors
The relays got it going, as is usually the case for the Huskies. The 3,200 finished ninth in 10 minutes, 1 second. It wasn’t the school record, but they had already done that at the Slope meet the week before.
The 800 relay of Brooke White, Katia Lopez, Katie Matarese and Isabelle Courtois was seeded 18th and had qualified by one-hundredth of a second for the state meet. They sped their way to seventh with a new school mark of 1:48.01.
The mile relay of Lopez, Jenai Denardo, Tesha Olsen and LaRose Currie ran a 4:12.14, taking 17th. It’s worth noting that in these last two relays, the “old” lady of the bunch is Courtois, a junior, who is not exactly ready for her Social Security check.
And that, along with other noteworthy finishes to follow, is what has Battle Mountain track and field absolutely pumped about the next few years, especially after wrestling the league title away from Glenwood Springs one week ago.
“I am excited to see football kick it next year and the girls track team for the next four years,” Shearon said. “Most of those girls are freshman. To see them win the league championship, there’s no where to go but up.”
In the open 3,200 races, the seniors did the talking. Ortiz finished 10th in 11:46, her best state-meet finish. Shearon, seeded 15th, laid down a 9:56, good for ninth and a state medal.
“I wanted to go out on a high note,” Shearon said. “I think it was nice to have some guys running with me.”
Shearon was referring to Todd Walker, Eric Spry, Andrew Claymon and Graham Bultemeier, all Huskies and Shearon’s friends, who have died in the last year.
“I’m glad to have the friends I’ve had to help me through the rough stuff,” Shearon said. “It’s also helped me realize that I should be thankful for what I have.”
A belated happy 16th birthday to Molly Childers. She celebrated Saturday by going 9 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault, finishing ninth. Please no vaulting in whatever car you may start driving. Freshman Bailey Garton took fifth with a 9-6 on fewer attempts at that height.
Zach Guida finished tied for seventh with none other than Eagle Valley’s Austin Woodworth. They both cleared 13 feet.
Logan Carlson, the league champion in high jump, finished 14th, while Constein was 17th. Constein was jumping after doing her stint in the 3,200 relay, so she was understandably not fresh.
“You don’t see many 800 runners jumping,” Krumlauf joked.
Courtois took 14th in the 300 hurdles with a 48.03. She missed the school record by an eyelash.
And a state meet is not complete without a little heartbreak. Constein scratched on her first two attempts at the triple jump and seemed to have leapt to the fifth-longest jump at the state meet in her third attempt. Unfortunately, she had scratched by the slimmest of margins.
While a tough break, this is where the Huskies collectively say, “She’s just a freshman.” Again, only Ortiz, who’s off to Williams College, doubtless to the approval of her English teacher, and Shearon, who’s going to Colorado State with the hopes of running with some guy named John O’Neill, graduate.
The future is bright.
“We were kind of talking about it on the bus after we were done with the events,” Krumlauf said. “They want to push themselves and take it to the next level. They don’t talk about winning or what place they might get. They talking about running for fun and becoming better teammates. We’re really excited for what we think is ahead of them.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.