West Grand track teams attract a crowd | SkyHiNews.com

West Grand track teams attract a crowd

Larry Banman
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado

It has been a typical start to the track season for the West Grand High School Mustangs, with snow on the ground and a lot of the work indoors.

In the “nice problem to have” category, the Mustang practices are pretty crowded because there are 50 athletes competing this year for the West Grand boys’ and girls’ teams.

This year’s version of the Mustangs is very young, particularly on the boys team. The only two state qualifiers on the boys team last year were seniors AJ Silva and Ricky Gamblin. The only member of the West Grand boys’ team with experience at a state meet is junior Tim Ritschard, who competed as a freshman in the pole vault.

Coach Joe Shields said the majority of the points at varsity meets will likely come from sophomore Travis Gore, juniors Ritschard, Luke Miller and Chase Hill and potentially from Chris Zagone in the high hurdle event.

There are 27 boys on the junior varsity track team and the future looks good for the Mustangs. At this point, it appears that Miller has emerged as the fastest runner with Gore and Ritschard not far behind. In addition, some of the younger runners are holding their own in the shorter distances.

In the field events, the Mustangs have a strong contingent of throwers for both the boys and girls teams.

The girls team was strengthened this year with the addition of senior Destry Heide and junior Hannah Howell. Coach Shields added that there is good depth for the girls in the throwing events.

The horizontal jumps are not as strong this year, and that is an area where the Mustangs have accumulated a lot of points over the past several years as Danette Billington and Renea Ellison, who both graduated last year, consistently placed in meets for four years.

In the high jump, seniors Brook Cecil and Melissa Kraker return. Both have been strong performers for several years. They are joined at the high jump pit by freshman Shawna Rule and Christina Ekren.

In the hurdling, sprint and relay events, Coach Shields noted that the girls’ team will be able to fill out all of those events with entries that will be competitive. The Lady Mustangs don’t have a lot of pure speed, Shields noted, but the depth is outstanding. He noted that he is looking for the 4 x 800-meter team to be especially competitive during the season.

West Grand has been known for its strong pole vaulters for many years. This year’s team is young and inexperienced, Shields said, but it does include 18 individuals who are learning the intricacies of the event.

This year’s edition of the West Grand track team includes 18 freshman, 13 sophomores, 10 juniors and nine seniors. The team is coached by Shields, Cheryl Brown, Chris Brown and Jessie Slusher.

The team will take a break this next week for Spring Break and then prepare for the season, which starts with the Joe Shields Invitational Track Meet on April 3rd in Kremmling.


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