On track for state
GRAND JUNCTION Aspen’s boys 3,200-meter relay team breaks records like a broken record.The quartet of Barton Tofany, Jacob O’Connor, Adam Huber and Whit Fuller ran the fastest eight laps Friday at the 3A regional meet in Grand Junction to break their own school record yet again, finishing in just under 8 minutes, 18 seconds.The team had already prequalified for this weekend’s 3A state meet in Pueblo with its previous personal best, but opted to run in Grand Junction to see if it could top it – and win the regional championship.Skiers coach Chris Keleher didn’t have exact times for all his runners when reached Sunday, but noted that the boys 3,200 final wasn’t even close.”It was pretty cool to watch,” Keleher said. “They were in control the whole time.”The same team of runners also qualified for state with a third-place finish in the 1,600-meter relay.The Skiers girls 3,200 relay team of Brittany Marrs, Brianna Morse, Lindsey Wilkinson and Natalie Obermeyer also won the gold – a state-qualifying result that came as a complete shock to Keleher.Marrs just joined the track team last week after Aspen’s girls soccer season wrapped up, and Friday was the first time she ran in a meet with her teammates. The lack of experience didn’t show.”They won the thing by 10 to 15 meters,” Keleher said. “It was really cool to start the day with two victories.” Obermeyer and Wilkinson also qualified individually for the state meet; Obermeyer was second in the 3,200 and Wilkinson was third in a tight mile.Keleher said Obermeyer beat her previous best by 20 seconds.”The last two races she’s dropped about 30 to 40 seconds,” he said. “She ran a tough race. She battled the whole way with the first-place girl and just lost her by a few steps near the end.”Wilkinson qualified for state by the slimmest of margins, edging two other runners in a photo finish.”It was probably the best race of the whole weekend,” Keleher said. “There was a pack of five runners who ran neck-and-neck the whole way. The top three spots came down to the lean at the finish line. She fought the whole way.”Basalt senior Amy Lund and freshman Chiara Del Piccolo will join Obermeyer among the 3,200 field at the state meet in Pueblo. Del Piccolo finished third behind Obermeyer on Saturday, while Lund sat out the race after she ran a prequalifying time of 12 minutes, four seconds the week before on the same track.Lund was only one of four girls in 3A to finish under the prequalifying mark of 12 minutes, 12 seconds during the regular season.Basalt’s Brennan Roper also prequalified in the boys 3,200 the week before, and opted not to run Saturday. He did run in the mile, where he qualified for state with a third-place 4:47.Basalt’s other state qualifiers from Saturday were sprinters Cody Russell and Taylor Allmon. Russell, a junior who made his track debut this spring, won the boys 100-meter dash in 11.18 seconds and the 200 in 23.18. His 100 time in the finals was a personal best, as was his 200 time of 23.01 in prelims.Allmon streaked to the win in the girls 100 in 12.82 – a personal best for the sophomore.Coach Ron Lund said he expects both sprinters to make it to the state finals.”You have to be one of the top eight to make it, and I think realistically they both have good chances,” he said. “I think Brennan’s chances are good, too. Kids tend to pull out all the stops for state. With a lot of kids, you see huge leaps in time. We just have to hope that we’re some of those kids.”While there was plenty to celebrate, there was also plenty of disappointment for competitors from both high school teams who came up just short of qualifying.Aspen senior Tucker Eason looked like he was on his way to Pueblo to compete in the long jump before a competitor outjumped him by 2 inches on the final jump, dropping him from third to fourth.Basalt’s Andy Mayer finished fifth behind Eason, just 2 1/2 inches off the third-place mark. Eason also ran a personal best in the 100, but wound up fourth.”It was a tough way for him to go out,” Keleher said. “In the long jump, he was in third place for almost the whole competition.”Huber qualified for the 400 final and ran a personal best to finish eighth, while Sarah Nininger qualified for the girls 400 final but couldn’t run Saturday because she was committed to performing in a dance recital back in Aspen.Aspen’s Kyla Walter finished eighth in 100-meter high hurdles final – a result tainted by an injury in a 300 hurdles preliminary heat.”She was going to qualify for the finals in the 300, but tripped on the second-to-last hurdle and fell down,” Keleher said. “She basically ran hurt in all her races Saturday. She just wanted to finish out her senior season running and not sitting on the sidelines.”Aspen’s Ryan Waldron was also fifth in the 3,200, followed by Nate Marrs in sixth.Basalt’s Max Harlowe finished fourth in the boys 110 hurdles in 17:01 – a second behind the third-place finisher. He was also fifth in the 300 hurdles, in 44.3.”He knew there was a pretty good gap between him and the third guy,” Lund said, “but he had personal bests in both races.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.