Kendall Clark leads large group of AHS Skiers to state track meet
AHS STATE TRACK QUALIFIERS
Girls 800-meter sprint medley (Thursday, 2:10 p.m.)
Julisa Ruiz-Vega, 100-meter dash (Thursday, 2:40 p.m.)
Girls 4x800-meter relay (Thursday, 5 p.m.)
Paige Quist, shot put (Friday, 12:30 p.m.)
Kendall Clark, 800-meter run (Friday, 12:50 p.m.)
Girls 4x400-meter relay (Friday, 3:30 p.m.)
Nicholas Galambos, 1,600-meter run (Saturday, 11:20 a.m.)
A year removed from not having a single qualifier for the state track and field meet, an older, hungrier Aspen High School team made the most of this spring. The Skiers have four individuals and three relay teams set to compete this week at the state meet in Lakewood, a significant step up from 2018.
“We’ve definitely taken some steps forward as a program,” AHS track coach James Aldridge said. “It’s just a year older, a year stronger. They had the makings of it last year, but were just right on the fringe. It’s nice to go down there with a group.”
The group is led by sophomore Kendall Clark, who will compete in all three relays as well as the 800-meter run. A solid cross-country athlete in the fall and Nordic skier in the winter, Clark enters the 800 — 3A finals are scheduled for 12:50 p.m. Friday — with the fifth-best seed time (2 minutes, 20.32 seconds). She’s about eight seconds off the pace set by race favorite Lilly Lavier of Alamosa.
“I’m super excited. I definitely couldn’t believe my time when I finished. It didn’t really settle in for a while,” Clark said of her 800 time, which is believed to be a school record. “It was a PR by four seconds over my last time, so it came as a surprise. But I worked hard, so I’m pretty proud. Really excited to go to state. I don’t really have any goals in state. It will be my first time there. I’m really excited, so I’ll run my hardest.”
Clark is part of a state-qualified 4×400-meter relay team that broke the school record earlier this season. They’ll need to step it up another notch in all likelihood to make the finals. The AHS girls also are sending their 4×800-meter relay team and their 800-meter sprint medley relay.
Among Aspen’s biggest surprises this season was the addition of junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega, a first-time track athlete who also plays soccer. She will compete in the 100-meter dash.
While her time of 12.87 seconds ranks in the bottom half of the 18 qualified athletes, it’s still within striking distance of Montezuma-Cortez freshman Avery Wright, who has the best seed time of 12.46 seconds.
“We snuck her from soccer and she ended up being one of the fastest kids in the state,” Aldridge said of Ruiz-Vega.
Aspen is sending one field athlete in junior Paige Quist. She will compete in the shot put, where her mark of 35 feet, 10 inches has her seeded roughly 12th out of 18 qualifiers.
The lone male athlete going for Aspen is senior Nicholas Galambos, who set a 13-second personal record in the 1,600-meter run (or mile) at the last meet of the season to qualify. His time of 4:35.64 is seeded 14th.
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team looks a lot different from the last time it played, with many new players and a new coaching staff. But winning has become part of the culture, and it’s so far, so good for the Skiers this spring.