GRAND JUNCTION – The Telluride/Norwood High School track and field team (TNT) has reached new pinnacles in 2011, racing to the top of their conference leaders list in both team and individual events. Following a powerful performance at last weekend’s regionals event in Grand Junction, the team heads to the Colorado 2A State Meet this weekend with a whopping 16 athletes, as well as serious potential for bringing home state titles.
While in the midst of winning the team conference title in the girls division and taking second among boys’ teams, the powerhouse Miner-Maverick squad also staged a massive attack against the competition in individual events. A torrent of wins for TNT athletes at last weekend’s regional event bodes well for the team’s prospects for securing state champion titles as they head into fierce competition on the state level starting today in Denver.
“We’ve seen huge improvements from this team this season,” said coach Keith Hampton, noting that at regionals the team had athletes compete in 51 different events, and out of those emerged 37 personal best records. “They pulled out all the stops last weekend. It’s really exciting to go into state with such a strong record.”
Standing at the top of the team’s long list of conference champions is Norwood’s Ty Williams, a runner who boasts an already illustrious high school track record. Williams emerged as the conference champion in both the 3200 meter and the 1600 meter this year, and is ranked number one in both events; but those major accomplishments weren’t all this NHS senior had in store for his final season. Williams eclipsed a 25-year state record in the 2A division when he ran the 3200 meter in 9.33, ousting previous record holder Ray Harvey of Ouray.
“So he’s looking strong going into state,” Hampton said; a modest statement for one of the best, if not the best-decorated athletes in team history.
Joining Williams on the conference leaders list was THS’ Colten Rodgers, who won the 800 meter and takes the number one ranking for 2A boys. He ran a school record, completing the event in 2:01.06. And Ty Laframboise took the top spot in last weekend’s shotput event.
The girls, meanwhile, erected a mammoth offensive last weekend as well, easily beating their closest competitors Dolores in team points accumulations thanks to big victories across the board. In the hurdles events, teammates Emy Ludwig and Lindsey Stindt swapped places in the 100 meter and 300 meter events, with Stindt taking first and Ludwig coming in at second in the 100 meter and the duo trading titles in the 300 meter. Ludwig and Stindt are ranked first and second, respectively, among 2A schools in the state in the 300 meter hurdles and third and second, respectively, in the 100 meter hurdles.
In the sprinting events, Telluride’s Jo Bush tracked down two conference champion titles, in the 400 meter and 200 meter events, while recording school records in both. Bush will also be a state meet contender in the two events, ranked third in the 400 and seventh in the 200.
In the longer distance events, Norwood’s Shelby Brier placed first in the 800 meter to take the conference champion title, while Telluride’s Rachel Hampton crossed the finish line first in both the 1600 meter and 3200 meter events. Sitting near the top of the state 2A rankings list, both girls stand a good chance of finding themselves ahead of the competition at the state meet as well.
Also qualifying for state are Jeff Williams (Ty’s younger brother, who as a freshman is already following in his brother’s footsteps as the sixth-ranked runner in the 800 meter,) as well as Nathan Loomis (ranked eighth in the state in the 1600 meter.) Norwood’s Brandon Kennedy and Jaron Ragsdale will also be representing the team in relay events at state. Meanwhile, the girls will get some additional horsepower for their relay team from Jessie Hild and Sierra Sandoval.
Bekah Rutz will also make the trip to state, having crushed her own previous personal best record in the high jump (a 4’4”) to jump 4’10” at regionals, qualifying for state in the process.
The 2011 season marks the first time Telluride and Norwood athletes have combined forces for a track and field team, and according to Coach Hampton the results of the power-merger speak for themselves. The girls team will go into the coming state meet ranked third among 2A schools, while the boys team comes in at second place.
“We have a lot more depth because of it,” Hampton explains of the Telluride-Norwood alliance. “We’ve won some meets this year that normally we wouldn’t even be able to compete in, because we wouldn’t have been able to field a team. Now, we have a real chance to compete on a team level in track.”
The 2A State Track and Field meet starts today (Thursday, May 19) at the Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.