Basalt High heads to state track and field with combo of youth and experience | AspenTimes.com

Basalt High heads to state track and field with combo of youth and experience

As a standout player on the Basalt High School boys basketball team, Justin Henderson is certainly comfortable with the idea of jumping. Now, jumping horizontally over a bar is a whole different story for the senior who had never competed in track and field before this spring.

"Justin is a natural jumper. He's a wonderful talent on the basketball court," Basalt track coach Allyson Decatur said. "We just knew that he was going to bring something special to high jump."

With a tall, wiry frame, Henderson is certainly built like a high jumper, and it's only taken him a few short weeks to make something of his natural talent. He's one of eight Longhorns qualified to compete this week at the state track and field championships, which get underway Thursday at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.

"I had a lot of people in school and some coaches tell me I'd be a really good high jumper and that I could make it to state, and here I am," Henderson said. "I had full confidence in them. I just slid in, but if I made state, I made state."

With a season-best mark of 5 feet, 11 inches, Henderson is seeded 18th in the boys Class 3A high jump at the state meet. His 5-11 mark is actually tied for 16th in the classification with seven other state competitors (there are 22 total athletes competing in the event). Three, including Roaring Fork High School's Jasper Germain, are tied at the top with a season-best mark of 6-07.

For Henderson, who plans to attend Colorado State University in the fall, he's just hoping to make the most of his one and only year competing in track and field. His goal is to break the 6-foot mark at state.

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"It would be cool to get a school record and a PR in the same day at state," Henderson said. "The jumping is fine. I just have a little bit more technique to work on."

The 3A boys high jump finals are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Here's a look at the rest of Basalt's state qualifiers.

Noah Williams, 100-meter dash

The senior moved to the valley from Truckee, California, midway through his junior year. His introduction to BHS athletics came when he joined the track team as a sprinter, qualifying for the state meet in his first go around.

His results at the state meet last spring weren't over the top, as he finished 17th in both the 100-meter dash (11.37 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (23.24 seconds). Williams just missed out on again qualifying in the 200, but looks to have a good shot at a podium in the 100-meter dash this week.

"That's the dream," Williams said of making the podium. "It's going to be pretty fun. I just do it for the experience of being around people who are a lot better than you and kind of learning from it."

Williams is seeded 11th in the 3A 100-meter dash with a seed time of 11.28 seconds. Kent Denver's Seven Lindsey holds down the top spot with a time of 11.02 seconds.

"Defeating gravity while running — Noah weighs 225 pounds — his speed comes from strength coupled with quickness at the start," BHS assistant coach Jeff Lumsden said.

Williams is truly a football player and is signed to play at NCAA Division II Fort Lewis College in the fall. He was a standout running back for the Longhorns as a senior, his only year with the team, rushing for 1,422 years and 26 touchdowns as the team's feature back.

Ultimately, he uses track as a way to stay in shape for football season. He reports for camp at Fort Lewis on Aug. 5.

"We're going to make it a policy that the stars of the football and basketball teams compete in track and field as it appears to work for our program," Decatur joked. "He's been working hard. I know he's ready. It's his senior year, but I would hope, as we've talked about this year, going out with a bang."

The 3A boys 100-meter dash prelims are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The finals are set for 11 a.m. Saturday.

Megan Maley, 400-meter dash

The junior is qualified for her third state meet in three years, although she missed it her freshman year to attend a ballet recital. As a sophomore, Maley finished 12th in the girls 400-meter dash with a time of 1 minute, 1.21 seconds.

"All the qualifying times were faster than last year and faster than my freshman year. I'm grateful for the opportunity," Maley said about getting back to state. "I'm definitely peaking right now in terms of my training and I would say my high school career. I'm hoping to PR. I'm just hoping for the best."

Maley is seeded 17th out of 18 in the 400 this spring with a season-best time of 1:00.60. She'll need to get that number under 60 seconds to have a chance at the podium, which she has done in a recent relay.

"Megan, I've been working with her for three years and she's just progressed tremendously," Decatur said. "I'm excited to see what she brings."

The 3A girls 400-meter dash prelims are scheduled for 6:50 p.m. Thursday. The finals are 11:57 a.m. Saturday.

Sierra Bower, 3,200-meter run

The freshman is quickly becoming a standout distance runner for the Longhorns, having also qualified for the state cross country meet in the fall. She'll take on the 2-mile race at the track and field meet this week.

"It was really cool going to state for cross country, so I'm excited to see what it's like for track," Bower said. "I'm feeling pretty confident and I'm just hoping for the best. I don't necessarily have a number in mind."

Bower is seeded 17th out of 18 in the girls 3A 3,200-meter run with a seed time of 12:13.73, a touch over a minute behind the race favorites. Her success this season in track wasn't surprising considering how she did in the fall with BHS cross country coach Ron Lund, who also is the track team's distance coach.

"We did have some expectations for her because he got to work with her in the fall. So we knew what we were getting into," Decatur said. "But cross country is different than track, so we are excited to have her representing the school in the two mile."

The 3A girls 3,200-meter run is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

Girls 4×800-meter relay

While a name or two has changed, the Longhorns have consistently made something of this mid-distance relay team with the girls, having qualified them for state three straight years now. This year's veteran group includes Maley, Bower, seniors Jenna Curnow and Carly Robinson, as well as sophomore alternate Lily Gillis.

This same group, with Gillis racing instead of Bower, took eighth at the state meet last spring with a time of 10:10.20.

"Sierra is the newest addition and is really valuable with her speed," Maley said. "I'm really excited to see what we can do with the 4×8, maybe make podium this year."

The team is right on the doorstep of again getting onto that podium. This year's group is seeded 11th out of 18 with a season-best time of 10:15.07.

"They've been in the top 10 for most of the season, so we have big expectations for them to be on the podium," Decatur said. "They've been working hard for it. They are ready."

The 4×800-meter relay final is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

Girls 4×400-meter relay

This relay is decidedly younger than the 4×800 girls. Along with Maley and Curnow, the 4×400-meter relay team will include sophomore Samanta Andrade and freshman Kaitlin Boothe, both newcomers to the state meet. Gillis will again be the team's alternate.

"We'll see what we can do," Maley said. "We just qualified in the last meet, so it's only up from there."

The 4×400-meter relay team is seeded 16th out of 18 teams with a seed time of 4:16.88. The prelims are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Note: Rain is in the forecast for the Denver area through the state meet. On Tuesday, the Colorado High School Activities Association said the meet was scheduled to run as planned, although fans and athletes should keep an eye out for any delays.

acolbert@aspentimes.com