Longhorns on track in Junction
GRAND JUNCTION The pressure is off Basalt distance specialists Amy Lund and Brennan Roper – at least for now.The two runners qualified for state with personal bests in the 3,200 meters in Friday’s Tiger Invitational in Grand Junction. Roper’s time of 10 minutes, 8.21 seconds set a new school record by nearly six seconds, besting Collin Gibbard’s previous mark that had stood for more than 20 years. Only one more chance to qualify – at regionals Friday and Saturday on the same Junction track – remains for the rest of the Longhorns.”Things went pretty well down there considering the high level of competition,” Basalt head coach Ron Lund said Saturday. His Longhorns were one of only three 3As in the 22-team field. “We set a school record, and everybody but one that went down ran a [personal record].”Lund and Roper shined under the Stocker Stadium lights Friday night. Lund was in 10th position in the 25-girl field, but, just before the one-mile mark, passed a group of competitors and vaulted all the way into fourth. She could do little, however, to close the gap between her and Glenwood sophomore Katrina Selsor or Dakota Ridge sisters Natosha and Alexa Rogers, who finished 1-2. Lund finished fourth, more than one minute off the pace in 12:04.75, but was five seconds faster than her previous best.Roper went out hard from the opening gun, and hung with a pack of five runners for six and a half laps. He coasted to the finish seven seconds ahead of the predetermined state qualifying time of 10:08. His finish was only good for 12th place out of 32; every one of the runners to crack the top 10 posted times under 10 minutes.Still, the junior, who tied a personal best in the mile with a 4:46 at the Eagle Valley Invitational on April 21, impressed his coach. A 4:36 or a top-3 finish at regionals will qualify Roper for state, which will take place May 18 and 19 in Pueblo.”The race went phenomenal for him,” Lund said. “He went for it from the get-go, that’s the approach he usually takes. He now has the training under his belt to back it. He ran bold and hung on – you’ve got to hand it to him. He wasn’t afraid of anybody running in the race.”While he failed to qualify for state, hurdler Max Harlow did record a personal best in the 110-meter high hurdles with a 16.92. He also posted a sub-45 second time in the 300 intermediate hurdles for the first time ever, finishing 13th in 44.6.Senior Duncan McDaniel ran a personal best in the 400, finishing in 54 seconds in the prelims. He finished outside the top eight and did not qualify for Saturday’s final round.McDaniel missed Saturday’s 800 meters to attend his sister’s graduation. Lund expects McDaniel to be a major factor next weekend. “You can’t rule him out because he has such a good kick,” Lund said. “He’s always there in the finish, so it will be tough to hold him off in the 1,600 or the 800.”If he goes 2:03 or 2:04, he could be in the top three [at regionals].”Taylor Allmon bounced back from a disappointing 100 with a strong finish in the 200. She finished in 26.85 seconds to nab the eighth and final spot in Saturday’s final. She took fifth Saturday with a time of 27.06. Tyler Wilson and Nuala Del Piccolo, the two other Longhorns to compete in Junction, posted 3,200 times of 11:18 and 13:45, respectively.The rest of the team had planned on competing in Saturday’s Aspen Invitational for one final tune-up before next weekend, but the event was called off because of inclement weather. Despite the minor setback, Lund is convinced things are shaping up nicely during this the season’s most pivotal stretch.”Based on [Friday’s] results, we seem to be peaking at the right time,” he said. “Regionals is always interesting, and I’m looking forward to qualifying more kids.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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