For the first time in 36-year head coach Bob Archibeques career, Montezuma-Cortez High School hosted its league track and field meet.
Panther Stadium was the site, as M-CHS co-hosted with Durango.
Three throwers for the Lady Panthers displayed their prowess at home. Seniors Ashley Lingo and Laura Heaton won the 5A/4A Southwestern League championships in the discus (114-4) and shot put (37-2.50) respectively. Randy Elliott came in second in the discus with a heave of 106-6. All three throwers qualified for this weekends Colorado 4A State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood. Lingo is raked fifth and Heaton is seventh in the state. Elliott snuck in at No. 17 in the discus.
Theyve just been the scoring anchors of our team all year. Im just real proud, Lady Panthers coach Paul Koops said about his throwers. Its real great. Theyve been solid for us their whole careers. You cant even count the hundreds of points theyve earned for the team. Theyve been real leaders for us.
The trio has been strong for the Lady Panthers all season, who finished fourth out of six teams Saturday with 84 points.
Heaton hopes to make a splash at state.
I only ended up throwing 37 (feet), but thankfully, Im set in state. It wasnt a huge deal, said Heaton, who plans to attend West Texas A&M University. I know Im a good thrower and if I let my mind get to me, then Im not a good thrower anymore. Its nice knowing Im in state. I definitely have a chance for top five. As a senior, its that one last thing. It just means so much to me.
Durango won the girls league championship with 161 points. Grand Junction and Fruita Monument were second (113) and third (98), while Montrose and Grand Junction Central were fifth (61) and sixth (38). Only a lightning delay derailed what was a well ran event.
I think it really went smooth, Archibeque said. A meet is only as good as your help. We had a lot of people come out and volunteer. I want to thank all the coaches, too, for being patient.
Other state qualifiers for M-CHS are girls Amanda Gallegos, Imari Black, Rachel Demby and Katelyn Muzzy in the 4x400-meter relay. The No. 17-ranked 4A team ran a exciting race that had fans on their feet, cheering at the top of their lungs. M-CHS runners filled their lungs with air, leading the race most of the way. Gallegos, in the anchor position, took the baton from Rachel Demby. The speedy junior took off maintaining the Lady Panthers comfortable lead. But Durangos Dominique Ward made a lot of ground on the first straight away. Coming around the third turn, Ward had caught Gallegos and the crowd cheered both runners on to the finish. But it was Ward who crossed the finish line first, clinching the title for Durango. The Lady Demons won the 4x400 in 4:10.12, edging M-CHS at 4:10.34.
The Panthers placed sixth as a team. Grand Junction won the boys championship with 143 points.
Nick Haukeness had a good day in his last sporting event for M-CHS. The senior took fifth in the 300-meter hurdles at 43.19. Haukeness decided to try the triple jump for the first time and leaped his way to a runner-up distance of 39-2.50.
Jaron Carver raced to a sixth-place finish of 53.08 in the boys 400-meter dash.
Fruita (117), Durango (102), Montrose (81) and Central (49) rounded out the top five boys team standings.
The CHSAA Track and Field State Championships will run Thursday through Saturday at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. Action begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.