Aspen’s Abarca qualifies for 3 sprint finals at state |

Aspen’s Abarca qualifies for 3 sprint finals at state

Aspen's Sunday Abarca, shown here at the State Track and Field Championships at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood, will compete in the Junior Olympic National Championships in Sacramento next week.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times |

LAKEWOOD — Sunday Abarca of Aspen High School qualified for the finals in all three sprint events Thursday on the first day of the State Track and Field Championships at Jeffco Stadium.

Abarca, a junior, advanced out of the Class 3A preliminary heats in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. The defending state champion at 400, Abarca will move on to Saturday’s sprint finals in suburban Denver.

“Just trying to qualify (for finals),” Abarca said on the infield between races Thursday. “I do love this track. It feels like a surface where I can calm down and do my thing.”

He did.

The Aspen High School sprinter won his heat in the 100-meter prelims in Class 3A, clocking a fast 11.02 seconds in the 75-degree heat of the early afternoon.

With a quick start, Abarca won with Luke Arkell of Lutheran second in the heat.

“I was ready to go,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I qualified.”

Three hours later in late afternoon, Abarca again used a fast start and a big acceleration on the opening curve to take the lead in his heat of the 200 meters.

With the top three places advancing to the finals, he eased down the stretch and Eaton’s Josh Gregory outleaned him at the tape — 22.12 seconds to 22.13 seconds for Abarca. Both are on to the finals along with Kent Harris of Lutheran, who had the fastest qualifying time in winning the other heat in 22.03 seconds.

That trio will duel again in Saturday’s 200 finals.

Early Thursday evening, with the chill of the evening settling on the state track meet, Abarca breezed through the 400-meter qualifying race to advance to the finals.

After a deliberately slow start, Abarca made a demonstrative move as the 3A sprinters started into the final curve before the final straightaway.

Abarca, running in lane 5, passed three runners on the curve and then settled into a glide down the front stretch, finishing just behind heat winner Jared Keul, a junior from Manitou Springs who posted a 49.70.

Gregory, the lanky Eaton sprinter, won the second qualifying heat in 49.29 seconds.

That lines up another 3A showdown in the 400 meters on Saturday.

“Just trying to qualify. Conserve energy. Get ready for the finals,” Abarca said.


The Basalt High School track team opened the Class 3A state championships with record-setting performances and a spot on the podium.

The Basalt girls 4×800 relay team finished ninth in 10:28.35 and won medals Thursday afternoon.

Carly Robinson led off for the Longhorns. She handed to Becca White.

Stephanie Anglin ran the third leg and Jenna Curnow ran the anchor leg to help the Longhorns onto the podium on the opening day of the state meet.

In addition, the Basalt girls sprint medley relay advanced out of the prelims Thursday, finishing third in their heat with a 1:54.17. They’ll run for a place on the podium today.

The medley relay team included Morgan Ash, Alyssa Maniscalchi, Michell Cabrera and Nicole Alvarado.

The excited foursome stepped onto the podium, acknowledged by a huge cheer from the Basalt fans and teammates.

Alvarado, however, saved the best for last.

She qualified for the finals in the open 400 with a time that smashed a longstanding Basalt school record.

Alvarado finished in 1:01.28 to break the mark of 1:01.40, set in 1987.

She will run in the Class 3A 400-meter finals Saturday morning.

Basalt also sent out high jumpers Morgan Ash and Kaylin Williams on Thursday. The just missed the podium in an event won by Morgan Barone (5-7).

Basalt’s Jake Schiesser competed in the triple jump but didn’t advance to the jump finals.

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