Eagle Valley’s significant others
There are some sports questions that nobody ever bothers to ask.Example: Why do they call it softball, when the game is played with a hard ball?Example 2: What is so technical about a technical foul?Example 3: Why is it track and field, instead of field and track?The last question deserves consideration at Eagle Valley, where a talented group of field athletes have matched the impressive feats of the tracksters tit for tat.The Devils boys and girls track and field teams both had solid showings at regionals last weekend in Grand Junction with the boys beating out Gunnison by three points for first place and the girls finishing in third. Still, despite the complete team effort, the Devils throwers, jumpers and pole vaulters have found themselves garnering about as much attention this spring as the Heat-Pacers series. It’s the and field thing.And, frankly it’s getting old. “Without those field events, we don’t win,” Devils coach Jeff Schroll said. “The boys only won by three points. With the throwers or the jumpers, if we don’t do well, with how close it was, then we don’t win. We got almost 15 points out of both shot putters and 14 or 15 points in both discus. The high jumpers scored. The long jumpers scored. The triple jumpers scored. That’s points and that’s huge.”It’s not that Eagle Valley’s field competitors don’t get respect from their teammates or their coaches. It’s just that when you have the fastest boys 400 relay team in 3A and all four girls relays qualified for this weekend’s state meet in Pueblo as well as a dependable group of distance runners and the fastest sprinter in school history – who’s only a sophomore, to boot – people tend to forget about the discus or the triple jump.
“I know that the running events get the most attention, but those field events are pretty neat to watch,” Schroll said. “A lot of people talk about Sean Matheson, being the fastest kid on the team, and only being a sophomore. But, Jacob Rivera is in the same boat. He’s only a sophomore, never done track before and he’s unreal. If he throws the way he did in practice (Monday), he’ll place in the top-three in state.”A number of other Devils field stars have a good shot to make names for themselves in Pueblo this weekend, too. The track team should be stellar, of course. But, without a strong showing in the field events, the possibility for a top-three finish for either team won’t have legs. Or arms.Throwing heavy stuffAs previously mentioned, Rivera has been one of the biggest surprises for the Devils this year.He broke his previous personal best in the shot put last Friday when he threw 44 feet, 1 inch – three feet better than before – for a second-place finish in regionals. He’s also qualified for state in the discus as well, with a personal best throw of 144-6, something his coaches never thought he would do at the start of the season.”Jacob picked it up a lot faster than I expected him to,” Devils assistant coach Randy Rohweder said. “We were hoping that he could throw a 120 in discus and a 40-foot shot, and he kind of obliterated that.”Rohweder, who handles the coaching duties for the throwers, has been pleasantly surprised by Rivera’s propensity for throwing heavy things, but not too surprised given the sophomore’s three-sport background and his dedication to weightlifting. The same also goes for his other sophomore state-qualifier Kayla Phillips. In Grand Junction Friday, Phillips threw a personal best of 32-1 in the discus to finish second in the regional.The basic formula for success in throwing demands two specific ingredients that both sophomores possess: strength and athleticism.”You have to do your homework in the weight room,” Rohweder said. “Your homework is all-year-round weightlifting. If you’re not an all-year weightlifter or athletic in other sports, then it really hurts you. Jacob goes in three sports. Kayla goes in two. If you haven’t done your homework – your strength, your coordination, your athletic things – it’s a little harder to get good at throwing. If you have those, you can improve quickly.”As for this Friday, both throwers already know the distance for which they are shooting.”In the shot, I don’t know. But in the disc, I just want to get around 145,” said Rivera who also plays basketball and football. “All year long, I’ve just wanted to compete. I didn’t really have any expectations coming in.” “I’m shooting for a 33 in the shot-put,” said Phillips who also plays softball. “I don’t know what that will get me since it will be pretty tough competition. I’m about nine inches off. But, hopefully I’ll get it.”Sand and barsEagle Valley’s jumpers are most likely the best all-around athletes on the team.The three state qualifiers on the girls side – Kenzie Shreeve, Heather Mann and Rachel Sandoval – all play on the basketball team and also run in relays and individual events.There is no doubt that their skills on the court definitely translate into success in their respective jumping events, with the lengthy Shreeve and Mann both competing in the high jump, and the compact, springy Sandoval contending in the triple jump.All three didn’t prequalify for state during the regular season, but with a top-three finish for each at the regional Friday, they’re now going to state for more than just their running abilities.And, as track athletes themselves, they understand the importance of picking up points in the field events.
“Every point counts. You could have a solid running team and no field people, and you wouldn’t go anywhere,” said Mann who runs the open 400 and the medley. “For me, the field events are kind of a relaxer in the day. They’re not as hard for me as the running events.”On the boys’ side of things, the it’s only fitting that the brothers Gamble – who seemingly could make up a whole state team themselves – complete the jumping troop. Brad, one half of the twin-tandem, actually prequalified in state for five events: 400 relay, 800 relay, long jump, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. But, since four is the limit, he gave up his spot in the 800 relay to his brother Alex.Alex, along with going to state with the relay team, is also the best triple jumper in the region. He won last Friday’s meet by jumping a distance of 40-4 inches.If both brothers run and jump well this Friday and Saturday, the boys team should be competing for a top-three finish.Last but not leastThe three remaining state qualifiers are a strange bunch. They don’t practice with the team at Eagle Valley, but with another coach at rival Battle Mountain. They also like to run with big poles which they use to then fling themselves over another pole located between seven and 10 feet off the ground. Chelsea Craig, Clayton Griffith and Tyler Pack qualified for the 3A state track meet in pole vault last Tuesday at Battle Mountain High School, since Grand Junction couldn’t accommodate a pole-vaulting regional.Just qualifying in state for the event should definitely get the Devils some points this weekend, since not many schools in Colorado compete in the event. And, like always the more points the better for the Eagle Valley field and track team.Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.