Local runners go the distance at state meet | AspenTimes.com

Local runners go the distance at state meet

Jon Maletz
Aspen, CO Colorado

PUEBLO, Colo. The Roaring Fork Valley’s propensity for churning out strong distance runners was on display Saturday afternoon in Pueblo.

Two local runners figured prominently in the final standings in the girls mile at the 3A state championship track meet. Fresh off her impressive second-place finish in Friday’s 3,200 meters, Basalt sophomore Chiara Del Piccolo took sixth in the mile, besting her previous school record in the process. Aspen junior Lindsey Wilkinson finished ninth and was just three seconds out of eighth place, which would’ve landed her on the podium.

Del Piccolo, who hung with the lead pack from the end of the first lap until the race’s final stages, finished in 5 minutes, 25.1 seconds ” five second faster than she ran at May 10’s regionals in Grand Junction, when she took second.

“She had people to run with this time, so it was basically a different race,” Basalt coach Ron Lund said. “She hung right in there and ran really well.”

Wilkinson took a different tact, fading to the back of the field at the start. After 400 meters, she was third from the back, Aspen coach Chris Keleher said. She picked off many competitors in the final three laps to nab ninth, finishing in 5:32 ” a four second personal record.

Friday, Wilkinson was boxed in on the final backstretch in the girls 800, but posted a personal record en route to a 13th-place finish. She is closing in on school records in both the 800 and the mile.

“She’s knocking on a couple doors of records that have been around for a while,” Keleher said. “She’ll be very focused on that next year and will come back here and try again I hope.”

Three runners from the Western Slope finished in the top 10 Saturday. Middle Park’s Sam Berggren was out-kicked in the final 200 meters by Classical Academy’s Kaitlin Hanenburg ” the state champion in the 3,200 ” and wound up second. Berggren won the 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 at regionals.

In other action Saturday, Wilkinson anchored the Skiers’ 4 x 800 regional-champion relay team that wound up 13th. Collectively, Wilkinson, Brianna Morse, Brittany Marrs and Kelsey Tofany were seven seconds slower than in Grand Junction.

All four return in 2008.

“Maybe it was big-race jitters, but they didn’t run their best race of the season,” Keleher said. “It’s one of those you can’t control. You don’t know exactly how you’re going to feel physically, mentally, whatever.

“Heck, they got 13th in state when a lot of teams were sitting at home. … We’ll take that.”

Longhorns junior Tyler Wilson ran a three-second personal record in the boys 1,600, finishing 15th in 4:52. He was 15th in Friday’s 800.

Teammate Brennan Roper finished two seconds behind Wilson in 18th. After a season marred by injury and sickness ” he missed the first month with mono, came down with the flu and recently battled shin splints ” Lund said the senior was disappointed when he walked off the track.

“He had hoped to go out better in the last race of his high school career, but it’s the old thing that he didn’t have enough training,” Lund added. “He got in there and ran a gutsy race. Sometimes it’s hard to run 100 percent when you’re only 70 percent trained.

“At least he got in there and salvaged his season.”

While two days of competition included both high and low points, both Lund and Keleher agreed the trip to Pueblo was a promising one.

No one typified that sentiment more than Del Piccolo, whom Lund said he is already looking forward to watching competing next season.

“There are no guarantees on girls that as they get older they get faster. That was evidenced by the 3,200, where there were only two seniors in the race,” Lund added. “I think Chiara will be fine. She’s real strong and is a hard worker. She’ll be back with the experience she got this weekend, and I’m sure she’ll be ready to go at it again.”


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