Aspen’s Hemming wins high jump, local athletes shine at Rifle invite |

Aspen’s Hemming wins high jump, local athletes shine at Rifle invite

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentBasalt distance runner Chiara Del Piccolo charges toward the finish of the girls' 800 meters at Saturday's Rifle Invitational. The junior finished third.

RIFLE ” The Aspen track team had as many coaches as it did athletes at Saturday’s Rifle Invitational.

Despite fielding just two girls and two boys because the bulk of the team was either sick or participating in experiential education, Aspen coach Chris Keleher was all smiles. After all, his athletes still managed to compile eight top-10 finishes, including a victory ” Luke Hemming’s triumph in the high jump.

“We had the fearsome foursome down there today,” Keleher joked. “We have a lot of kids still coming back from Ex. Ed., which threw a monkey wrench into our plans … but you know it was a good showing for having almost a week off.”

Hemming managed to work some training into a busy week of Ex. Ed., and continued his string of impressive results. The sophomore, who finished second in both the high jump and 100-meter dash and third in the 200 at April 11’s Demon Invitational in Glenwood Springs, recorded three more top-5 finishes in Rifle.

Hemming was the lone competitor to clear 5-feet-10 in the high jump. He also took fifth in the 200, crossing the line in 24.45 seconds, and fifth in the 100.

“Not a bad effort for a sophomore,” Keleher said. “He had another really good meet. He’s been pretty consistent.”

Teammate Nick Codd took sixth in the high jump and wound up fourth in the 400 with a time of 55.54.

Aspen’s girls were just as busy on a blustery day in Rifle ” and nearly as successful. After failing to place in the discus, Brianna Morse posted a 10th-place finish in the 800 (2:47.87) and took 13th in the 400 (1:13.09).

Kelsey Tofany finished ninth in the 100-meter hurdles (19.27), sixth in the 300 hurdles (51.92) and fifth in the high jump, clearing 4-feet-10.

“There was a little lack of snap in the legs from a missed week of training,” Keleher said, “but they did really well.”

Basalt runners also figured prominently in Saturday’s races. Junior Chiara Del Piccolo led the way, finishing second in the mile (5:26.3) and third in the 800 (2:36.3) after not competing in Glenwood. Her time in the mile was just .3 seconds off the state pre-qualifying time. Had it not been for challenging conditions, she likely would have finished under the mark, Longhorns head coach Ron Lund said.

“There was a lot of wind, and it was hard ” especially if you were running further than a lap, you were battling it every time,” he added. “I think she’ll [pre-qualify] next week in Montrose. Even if she doesn’t, she’s still a solid top three in the region.”

Del Piccolo, who overwhelmed the field and posted meet-record victories in both the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Cedaredge Invitational in late March, led for three of four laps in the mile. But Grand Valley’s Brandi Kreig, who came up short in three previous head-to-heads with Del Piccolo this season, out-kicked the Longhorns standout in the final 400 meters.

Basalt sprinter Taylor Allmon took sixth in the 100 (13.78).

On the boys’ side, Conner Roper anchored the 4 x 800 relay team that finished sixth. His time of 2:04 was a four-second personal best.

The sophomore rebounded to take third in the 3,200, crossing the line in 10:44.

Teammate David Hammond finished eighth in the high hurdles with a time of 18.06.

“Some of the kids are kind of right on track, and others need to step up if they have any hope of placing well at regionals,” Lund said. “We have some more time to work out the kinks.”

Basalt next takes the track Friday in Montrose, then co-hosts the Roaring Fork Valley Invitational with Aspen on May 2. The regional meet follows May 8 and 9 in Grand Junction.

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