Ranking an unspectacular 41st in the Class 3A girls 400-meter dash statewide standings following the conclusion last weekend of all last-chance state-qualifying meets, Abby Tate had zero expectation her 2021 track-and-field season would continue.
That is until word reached Bayfield High that numerous out-of-town coaches hadn’t officially declared their runners’ results, and Tate’s season-best 1:03.90 – booked June 12 at Pagosa Springs’ Terry Alley Invitational – suddenly became Jeffco Stadium-caliber and will now send her to Lakewood as the Class 3A state championships’ No. 17 seed in the sprint.
“In Grand Junction, I thought my hip was still messed up,” Tate said after Monday night’s practice inside Wolverine Country Stadium, referencing BHS’ trip last week to the Grand Junction Tiger Invitational at which Tate took sixth in the 400 prelims, clocking 1:04.59, but elected to forego the final. “I might have qualified that race, but didn’t end up running it. So, I was kind of depressed over the weekend.”
As one of five Wolverines now bound for the grand finale, Tate will step into her assigned lane for Day 1 preliminary-heat action at roughly 7:20 p.m. Thursday hoping for a quick reaction to the starter’s gun.
“Starts – that’s really my weak spot in the 400,” she said. “So, I’m really focusing on that. I’m excited to go all-out.”
POLE VAULTERS PRIMED: Because of ties in the standings, 20 entrants will participate in the 3A girls pole vault, including Bayfield sophomore Shayden French and freshman Elissa Mars. And though not seeded highly – French’s personal-record 7-08 at the Tiger, which helped the Wolverines place 11th overall, has her effectively seeded 18th; Mars’ 8-02 best checks in about 13th – both seem ready for the challenge, set to start at 11:30 a.m. Friday.
“We’ll help each other out and stuff. We’re about at the same height right now; she’s got a higher PR than I do, as we’re pretty even. It’s easy to communicate with one another,” said French, tipping her proverbial hat to BHS assistant coach John Arnold as well as older brother and mentor Dawson (attending Western Colorado University in Gunnison on a cheerleading scholarship), who helped oversee Monday’s workout.
“I’ve actually wrestled with (Mars) in the past,” noted French, her Bayfield wrestling role this winter superseded by her contributions toward BHS cheer’s second-place state finish in the 2A/3A co-ed division, “and she’s a very persevering person. She’s super-athletic, flies over the bar even when she’s not putting in much effort. So, I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get to Elissa’s point.’”
“Last year I wasn’t able to vault like I wanted to because our season got cut short. And obviously Dawson made some high (a third-place 13-06 at the 2019 state championships) standards, so I was like, ‘If I don’t qualify, I’ve got to work my butt off so that I can next year.’ But I’m glad I got the chance this year, to go see state for the first time in track.”
NELSON QUALIFIES TWICE: All too familiar with the throwers’ ring, junior Emily Nelson will represent Bayfield at state in both the shot put and discus, with the former set for 12:30 p.m. Friday and the latter at 8:30 the next morning.
Thanks to a fourth-place 104-04 effort at the Tiger Invite, Nelson received the No. 9 seed in discus but will have to contend with a field featuring Gunnison junior Melita Ferchau, owner of a 3A-leading 132-05 launched earlier this month in Pueblo. Nelson’s eighth-place 30-07.5 shot put inside Stocker Stadium, meanwhile, didn’t better her season-best 31-03 heaved at the Montezuma-Cortez Twilight – a figure still good enough to earn her the No. 16 seed.
Lamar junior Alexandria Tice will be the No. 1 going in, owning a 40-09 – one inch farther than Delta senior Keely Porter’s maximum.
MESHEW PUMPED TO DEBUT: Earning her first state championships appearance, Nykole Meshew will enter Jeffco Stadium seeded a strong third – out of 21 entrants – in the high jump, which gets underway on at about 4 p.m. Thursday. Top billing initially belongs to Jefferson Academy junior Sierra Haberman (best of 5-04.5), with Coal Ridge’s Marin Simons (5-04) following.
In something of a positive omen, the sophomore Meshew defeated the senior Simons head-to-head at the Tiger Invite, needing fewer attempts to clear the bar at a winning 5-02.
“It went great,” she said. “I was a little intimidated because I knew there was a girl there with a higher PR than me, but I ended up winning the meet and increasing my PR by two inches.
“I definitely went into the year thinking I was not going to qualify at all, but after the first couple meets, I thought maybe I could,” added Meshew, first introduced to the specialty as a sprint-geared seventh-grader. “I want to place first or second, hopefully, but I guess my personal goal is to increase my PR as much as I can. I’m pretty stoked about it.”