Aspen’s High’s Sunday Abarca named league’s top track athlete

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen's Sunday Abarca heads for the finish line to win the 100-meter dash at the Class 3A Western Slope League Championships last weekend at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction. Basalt's Jake Schiesser, who won the league long jump title, finishes third in the 100-meter dash. Shandon Hadley of Moffat County (2) was second.
Kara Williams / Special to The Aspen Times |

Aspen High School sprinter Sunday Abarca has been named the Class 3A Western Slope track athlete of the year after sweeping the sprint events last weekend at the Western Slope League Championships in Grand Junction.

Abarca, a junior who won the 3A state title in the 400 meters last year, won the 100, 200 and 400 conference titles on the track at Stocker Stadium in variable, if damp, weather conditions over two days.

He won the league 400-meter title by a whopping 4 seconds. He finished in 49.67 seconds.

Jonathan Espinoza of Coal Ridge was second at 53.44. Titans’ teammate Lane Nelson finished third in 54.10.

Abarca posted a 22.38 in the 200 meters. Shandon Hadley of Moffat County was second at 23.58.

Sergio Valentin of Coal Ridge finished third.

And in the 100 meters, the Aspen High School sprinter, coached by James Aldridge, won in 11.28 seconds.

Hadley of Moffat County was second at 11.64. Basalt’s Jake Schiesser finished third in 11.84.

Abarca’s times rank among the state leaders, particularly at 400 meters.

“He won all three races,” Aldridge, his coach, said. “He … pulled away in the 400.”

Aldridge, the former Notre Dame running back and standout player for the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby team, said Abarca has worked to maximize his performances this year.

“He’s handling it well,” said Aldridge, himself a track standout in high school and college. “He’s taken ownership of the situation.”

He said Abarca is diligent about his workouts and weight training sessions, as a returning Colorado state champion.

His summer track program, including a national high school-age meet in Florida last summer, helped Abarca gain valuable experience, according to Aldridge.

“Just being exposed to different environments … like at regionals and being exposed to the country has been big,” Aldridge said, adding that the top high school track athletes share a mutual respect that also boosts performances. “He’s established a lot of good relationships.”

In addition to Abarca’s results, the Aspen High School track team also collected a school record in the triple jump by Zane Ingles.

He jumped 37-2 to finish fifth in the league championships. Billet Porter of Coal Ridge won at 40-11.25.

The Skiers also still have an opportunity to qualify several relay teams for the state championships, set for May 19-21 at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.

Aldridge said the Aspen girls 4×200 relay team and 4×400 team will have a shot at the state marks.

And the AHS boys 4×400 team as well could qualify for another fast performance.

The Skiers will send a contingent to the Cedaredge Invitational on Saturday with state marks in mind.

The Skiers also may send Abarca and a select group to the Front Range for a multi-class meet with top competition at 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A.