Devils take second at home invite
GYPSUM – The sky was a mysterious color – blue? – and there was a bright, yellow thing above Saturday’s Eagle Valley Invitational.
And then all recognized what was going on – pleasant weather at a track meet, quite the development after a very chilly start to the season. (Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Vail Christian nearly froze to death last week at the Joe Shields Invitational in Kremmling.)
“It’s nice. I’m glad it was nice out,” Eagle Valley thrower Jamie Bair said. “I was panicked during the beginning of the week because it was snowing. I was like, ‘Please, no.'”
“It was a little hot, but I doused myself before the race,” Huskies distance runner David Shearon said.
With temperatures in the 60s, the host Devils had a great day, with the boys and girls both taking second. Montrose was the class of the ladies’ field, while the Rifle boys took home the boys’ title. The Huskies’ girls and boys were sixth and seventh, respectively and the Vail Christian girls landed in 11th, right in the mix of their league rivals.
Some postcards from the day:
Making the board
Then a sophomore, Eagle Valley’s Austin Woodworth was pole-vaulting last spring with a state berth on the line. Only problem was that mid-launch he stalled out and landed backwards in the box and was off to the emergency room.
“Been there, done that,” he joked Saturday.
Woodworth had a right to be a good mood Saturday, finishing second. He matched the school record with a leap of 12 feet, 6 inches – and most importantly landed on the nice big mat.
“You know when you clear (the bar) and know when you’re not going to clear, that’s for sure,” he said.
Running with a long stick and hurling yourself into the air definitely takes a special breed. Woodworth said he was attracted to the sport because of the adrenaline and the feeling of being in mid-air. His mom is understandably a bit nervous when he vaults, but still watches.
Woodworth took three attempts at 13 feet to break the school record, but grazed the bar. Only a junior, he wants his name on the school’s record board in the gym to be his alone.
“I’m going to,” he said. “I’m going to get it.”
Track and field is all about the numbers. The key to success as a team is not only having people who win events, but those who finish in the top eight to score points. There are also the personal goals, which usually involve the number 18.
The athletes with the top-18 results in each event during the regular season make the state meet. While Woodworth had a good feeling – correctly – that his 12-6 put him in the top 18, Battle Mountain hurdler Shawn Martinez was doing some math of his own.
Martinez ran the 300-meter hurdles in 43.19 seconds, good for second place behind Rifle’s Adolpho Ruiz.
“It’s pretty much rhythm for me,” Martinez said. “It was really good the first 100 and then I picked it up right there. I got neck-and-neck with the guy.”
Martinez is tracking upward. He dropped 1.45 seconds off his old personal record last week in frigid Kremmling. He went lower this week. As of Saturday, depending on who’s reported to Varvee.com, the official Web site for high school track in Colorado, Martinez is sitting less than three-tenths of a second out of a state spot.
“I feel like I’m doing well. I can improve, hopefully, make it to state,” he said. “I’m thinking a 40.”
Bair is likely one of the few athletes in the state who does not reflexively check Varvee the minute she returns home after a meet. Barring a mass cloning of female Mason Finleys, she’s qualified in both the discus and the shot put. (Mason Finley graduated from Buena Vista last year after obliterating Colorado and national high school records in the disc and shot.)
Bair broke her own school record with a 128-5 in the discus earlier this year. She’s second in the state with that and comfortably high in the shot put. She easily won both events Saturday.
“You’re just using your legs and slowing down your upper body so it gets behind you so you can have a good wind up. That just releases and makes it go,” she said after the discus. “You can definitely feel it when you have a good throw and compare it to your bad throws. ‘Yeah, I know what I did wrong.'”
Many lined up along the throwing area to watch the competition, but Bair’s biggest fan was probably the smallest in stature – her niece Alyah. Bair was giving her piggy-back rides in between throws.
“She always brings a smile to my face,” Bair said.
Rarely after a football, basketball or any other game in a team sport do you see competitors joking and chatting.
Track’s a bit different that way and Battle Mountain’s David Shearon and Hayden’s Chris Zirkle were talking race strategy and laughing after their 3,200 race.
“I worked with Chris Zirkle the whole race. We raced well together,” Shearon said. “We worked together up until the 200 and we both went for our kicks. It was fun.”
Shearon got the better of his friend by 3 seconds, winning in 10 minutes, 20.65 seconds. The two compete every fall and spring. Last fall, Shearon lost out to Zirkle, racing for Moffat County because Hayden doesn’t field a cross country team, twice at regionals and state.
They were bitter losses for Shearon at the time, but nothing personal.
In the meantime, while trading places with Zirkle at the front of the pack, Shearon was counting seconds and singing some Journey and Survivor in his head.
“I usually figure out my splits and start a counting game with a song,” Shearon said. “It’s not very fun, but it passes the time. You want to count the steps. If I wanted to run a 10:20, I’d have to pass (the start) every 70-75 seconds.”
Every meet finishes with the mile relay or “The Beast” as it’s called in Eagle Valley’s camp.
“Coach (Jeff Shroll) always tells us that the relay is The Beast,” said Eagle Valley’s anchor Nikki Harvey. “It’s the toughest relay. It’s the hardest to do.”
Harvey, Casey Lammert, Kassi Gall and Kendra Clements made it look easy Saturday. By the time Harvey got the baton, she could have taken an easy stroll. Her teammates had staked her to a good 30-meter lead, but she pushed it as the Devils won by a giant 4.77 seconds.
Everybody’s always watching everybody at a meet but the 1.600 is different. Everyone’s there because once it’s done, it’s time to go home. That adds a little juice as the racers head through a cacophony of noise in the final stretch.
“You want to do well. Everyone’s watching,” Clements said. “It’s all on you.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.