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Demon track and field athletes show out at Southwest League

Multiple boys and girls move up in state rankings
Senior Charlie Dillman of Durango High School leads the boys 800 meter run during the Ron Keller Invitational track meet at DHS on April 20th. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

On Friday and Saturday, the Southwestern League Track and Field Championships went down in Grand Junction. Along with competing for the league title, the meet also presented an excellent opportunity for athletes looking to punch their ticket to the state meet.

Multiple members of the Durango boys and girls teams were crowned league champions, but neither team was successful in winning the league. The Demon boys got third with 87 points, losing to Montrose’s 93 and Grand Junction’s 97. The Demon girls’ 82 points earned them second place, with Montrose taking the top spot by posting 87 points.

The Durango high jumpers continued their impressive seasons. Junior Jeanne Campbell’s jump of 5-3 tied her personal record, won league, and kept her in fourth place in the 4A state rankings. On the boys’ side, freshman Mason Miller jumped 5-8 to claim the league title.

Other field events were also strong, with the girls shot put duo of juniors Megan Hutchins and Violet Mazenko leading the way. Hutchins’ league-winning throw of 33-8, while not a PR, still moved her up from 17th to 13th in 4A. Mazenko’s PR of 33-0.5 was not only good for third place in league, but also earned her a spot in the top 18, meaning she is currently qualified for state.

Junior Violet Mazenko and sophomore Oshi Reider pose for a picture at the PV Turner Invite. Mazenko finished first in girls discus throw and Reider finished second for the Demons on March 23rd at Farmington High School. (Courtesy Johnny Bertrand)

Performances on the girls’ team weren’t just limited to field events, though. Lacy Ruggiero continued her terrific freshman year, winning the 1600 with a time of 5 minutes and 19.63 seconds. Ruggiero was also a part of the 4x400 team, along with Sofia Voss (junior), Ainsely Sampson (junior) and Evie Morris (sophomore), who combined to run a 4:11.15. This performance was good for second place in league and an improvement from 14th to 11th place in 4A.

This meet is the end of Voss’s season, due to season-ending surgery. In her last meet of her junior year, she shined by anchoring the 4x400 and winning the prelims of the open 400. She broke the sub-60 second milestone in 400 prelims with a time of 59.95.

“Given Sofia's challenges with her leg circulation problems, her anchor leg in the 4x400 was a nice way to end a very bittersweet season and year,” Durango distance coach Michael Fadil said. “Her training has been hampered by severe circulation limitations in both legs. We've had to gear back from 1600m training and racing to 800m training. And even the 800m races in the past two meets she's been unable to race the last 150m well because of the problems. So, a sub 60-second split was terrific to see.”

On the boys side, the relay teams were the stars of the show. The 4x200 team of Miller, senior Seb Tripp, sophomore Will Zahradnik, and senior Jaxon Fancher won league with a time of 1:31.58. Zahradnik and Fancher were also part of the league champion 4x400, along with freshman George Preston and junior Malakai Baier.

The 4x400 posted a season-best 3:29.94. This rocketed them up from 18th to 12th in 4A, greatly increasing their chances at going to state. The 4x800 team of Brodie Dorko (senior), Slader Schweitz (sophomore), Miles Snow (sophomore), and Charlie Dillman (senior) ran a league-winning, season-best time of 8:21.4. The performance improved their position in state, going from 13th to 11th in 4A.

“I've been telling the boys 4x800 they can run 8:16,” Fadil said. “The best they had this season before league was 8:29.47. At league, they ran 8:21.46 – a drop of 8 seconds. They're over half the way to 8:16. I still think they can run 8:16, but now I think that they are really starting to believe that they can run 8:16. Which is all that matters.”

The boys team didn’t just have relays on top, though. Dillman earned the league title in two other races as well – the 3200 meters and the open 800. Dillman wasn’t happy with his 3200 time of 10:00.70, but he made up for it with a stellar 800 performance. Dillman’s 800 time of 1:59.11 was a huge PR, and he was very happy about finally getting one of his career goals of under two minutes in the 800.

Along with all the champions and state qualifiers, there was an assortment of other good showings and placings in the Southwestern League from other Demon athletes. On the girls side, the sophomore trio of Sunny Tocco, Rye Standifer, and Maggie Glick finished second, third and fourth in pole vault. Morris got second in the 300 hurdles.

For the boys, senior Micah Zastrocky and junior Xavier Sutherlin claimed third and fourth in the 110 hurdles, Tripp earned second in the 100. Snow got second in the 3200, Baier came second in the 400, Zahradnik got third in long jump, and sophomore Oliver Clark claimed third in high jump.

Seb Tripp competes in the 100-meter dash on April 20th during the Ron Keller Invitational track meet at DHS. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The Durango squad has one more regular season meet: The Dennis Teeters Tiger Invitational, which is this Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction. This presents a last chance to qualify for state, which is May 16th through 18th at Jeffco Stadium in Denver.

AJ Bonanno is an 11th grade intern from Animas High School.