Saints’ Gruber makes it three golds
DENVER – As former Vail Christian (and Battle Mountain, for that matter) track coach Bob Isbell would say, “Good gracious. Bless her heart.”
That was Isbell’s highest form of praise for an athlete, and that would certainly apply to the Saints’ Ashlyn Gruber’s performance at the 2012 state track and field meet.
In her latest installment Saturday, Gruber took third in the 100 meters, and then won state titles in the 200 and the 400. With her state title in the 800 Friday, Gruber leaves the state meet with three gold medals and a bronze.
That’s a stunning 37 points out of a possible 40 at a state meet. The last local athlete to exceed that kind of performance was Eagle Valley’s Brad Gamble in 2004 when he went 4-for-4 in the 110 and 300 hurdles, the long jump and the 400 relay. He was pretty good, and so is she.
“I was talking to another senior and I realized we’re finished with our high school sports career.” Gruber said from Charlotte, N.C. “We’re kind of wondering what to do next.”
Well, actually you get on the plane to go with you family to your brother’s graduation at Davidson College. Chase Gruber’s is getting his biology degree today and Ashlyn will start there in the fall.
In the meantime, she put an exclamation point on her athletic career at Vail Christian. Isbell’s quote is relevant because he often said this in reference to Rachel McCoy (nee Glandorf), Class of 2005, who pretty much established the record book, which Gruber just rewrote. Comparison is difficult because Glandorf competed at a time when 2A and 1A competed together – the separate 1A class just started last spring. Gruber has more state-track medals now than Glandorf, yet the latter was going against bigger competition.
That said, Gruber busted Glandorf’s 800 record Friday and three state titles are three state titles, whatever the classification.
“She’s a pretty special kid,” said Saints coach Tim Pierson of Gruber. “And that was a special performance.”
However one concludes the Glandorf-Gruber comparison, the plaques for both ladies on the school’s Wall of Fame will have equally small print on them because of all their accomplishments.
For the second consecutive year, weather hit the state meet Saturday. What is normally a “warm” meet for Western Slope athletes became a “normal” competition, weather-wise, for Gruber.
While the 100 isn’t her specialty, Gruber used the final as a warm-up.
“It was rainy and cold,” she said. “It wasn’t the most-ideal conditions. It was good to get lose and get going.”
And you know you’re fast when your warm-up still nets you a bronze with a time of 13.36 seconds.
Next up was the 400 and it wasn’t close. For most of the season, Gruber’s been the only runner under 1 minute in 1A and she blitzed the field. She finished in 59.45, a whopping 2.98 seconds ahead of Cheyenne Wells’ Morgan Howard.
In the 200, Gruber clocked a 26.82 for her third gold of the meet, nearly a half-second ahead of Alexis Seifert of Liberty-Joes.
With that, Vail Christian girls’ track, all three of them – Kylie Alexander (pole-vault champion) and Celia Smith (third in the high jump) – finished with 54 points and took fifth place at state, only behind schools with much bigger contingents.
“I’m psyched for our school,” Gruber said. “It’s neat that we get to represent our little slice of the valley, so that’s fun.”
Huskies 11th at state
Battle Mountain’s Molly Childers led the charge on the final day of the state meet, finishing fifth in the pole vault with a leap of 10 feet as the Huskies girls finished 11th with 26 points.
That is Battle Mountain’s best performance for a girls team at the state track meet since the school moved up to 4A during the 2000-01 school year.
Mandy Ortiz took 12th in the 1,600 with a time of 5:21.54. The rest of the day was a case of hurry-up-and-wait. Rain halted the pole-vaulting competition for most of the day. When skies cleared enough, junior Childers was fifth and Bailey Garton ended up seventh with a jump of 9-6.
Zach Guida, who was only one of two vaulters in the state in 4A who had cleared 15 feet this season, had a disappointing day, no-heighting.
“The vaulters were super-patient the entire weekend,” Parish said. “We went down on Wednesday, and by Saturday afternoon, they still hadn’t vaulted. From a team standpoint, Zach and Bailey had tremendous careers. Both seniors pushed the team to develop and have taken the group to another level. We’re also excited to have Molly back for another year.”
Saturday was also the final day for Huskies boys track coach Jeff Krumlauf. He has been with the school as an assistant, and most recently, defensive coordinator, and as a track coach since the middle of the last decade. He’s leaving Battle Mountain to pursue his football career at 5A Doherty in Colorado Springs.
“I’d really like to thank (then-football coach) Pat Engle and Rob Parish for giving me my start in something I’ve absolutely loved and found a passion for,” Krumlauf said. “Once a Husky, always a Husky. I may be moving down to Spartan land, but I’ll always be checking in on what Battle Mountain is doing.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.