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How 14 DHS track athletes did at state

Multiple Demons make the podium
The Demon track and field state team poses for a picture at Durango High School before traveling to Denver for state. (Courtesy Maddie Obernesser)

This weekend, the CHSAA Track and Field State Championships went down at Jeffco Stadium in Denver. Durango High School took 14 competitors. The Demons competed in the boys 110-meter hurdles, boys and girls high jump, girls shot put, girls long jump, both 4x800 meter relays, and the girls 4x400 relay.

Junior Xavier Sutherlin, freshman Donovan Whitehead, and junior Jeanne Campbell all finished in the top nine, earning podium spots in their respective events.

Here is how all the Demon representatives performed.

Boys 110 hurdles: Xavier Sutherlin

Sutherlin went into the 4A 110 hurdles ranked 10th. At the state competition, most shorter races have a preliminary race, where all 18 qualifiers compete. The top nine finishers in prelims qualify for finals.

In prelims, Sutherlin finished ninth, getting to finals with a huge personal best time of 14.98 seconds. In Saturday’s finals, he would get ninth, posting a time of 15.22.

“What Xavier did was historic,” Durango hurdling coach Maddie Obernesser said. “The last time we had a male hurdler at state was 12 years ago. He worked really hard last year, all summer, all fall, all winter. Getting under 15 is a huge deal. Getting on the podium at state is also a big deal.”

High jump: Donovan Whitehead and Jeanne Campbell

Whitehead came into the high jump competition ranked ninth in 4A. He missed the starting height of 5 feet 11 inches twice, then succeeded on his third and final try. He would then clear 6-1 and 6-3 on his second attempt, but couldn’t make it over 6-5. This tied his PR and got him a 7th-place podium finish out of the 17 total competitors.

Campbell was seeded fourth in high jump coming into the state meet. She cleared the starting height (4-7) on her first try and did the same for the next two heights, 4-9 and 4-11. She made it over 5-1 on her third attempt, but missed three times on 5-3. This effort got her sixth place overall.

“The biggest goal was for them to make the podium,” high jump coach Steve Thyfault said. “I was real proud of them for doing that. They were both one jump away from being in the top three. They barely missed that next jump, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. For Donovan being a freshman I’m really proud of him for that. Jeanne has another year as well.”

Girls shot put: Megan Hutchins (junior)

Coming into state, Hutchins was ranked 15th in 4A in the shot put. Out of her three throws, her third was her best, being measured at 31-7.75. This was good for 16th place out of 18 competitors.

“I’m really happy that she (Hutchins) qualified for state,” said throwing coach Robin Oliger. “We had an opportunity to qualify three girls so I’m glad she got the chance to go. She was diligent during November and December so it’s great to see it pay off. I’m definitely looking forward to next year and I think Megan is too. This lit the fire again. Sometimes kids are satisfied with just getting to state, but once you go there it has to be the next notch of doing something while you’re there.”

Girls long jump: Jeanne Campbell

Campbell was ranked 17th to begin the competition and would end up placing 16th out of 19 competitors. Her first jump was her best at 16-1.

“We’re super excited that she made it to begin with,” said long and triple jump coach Evelyn Klein. “She had a lot of momentum and peaked right at the end of the season. I’m really happy for the experience.”

Boys 4x800: Brodie Dorko (senior), Slader Schweitz (sophomore), Miles Snow (sophomore), and Charlie Dillman (senior)

Going into the state meet, the Durango boys 4x800 was ranked 17th. They finished 14th with a season-best time of 8:15.83, which bettered their previous best time by six seconds. All four boys ran their best splits of the season.

Girls 4x800 meter relay: Evie Morris (sophomore), Dewa Ilg (junior), Bryn Aggeler (junior), Lacy Ruggiero (freshman)

The Demon girls 4x800 were seeded 17th, just like the boys. Just like the boys, they outplaced their seed. They would finish 16th with a time of 10:10.37, despite missing their anchor leg, junior Sofia Voss (whose season was cut short by leg surgery).

“We took a young group of kids and got some good experience that will pay off in the future,” said head coach Johnny Bertrand. “People came up here and they performed well. I’m excited for the next few years.”

Girls 4x400: Evie Morris, Ainsley Sampson (junior), Molly Bertrand (sophomore), Lacy Ruggiero

The Durango girls 4x400 was seeded 16th coming into the state competition. They would finish 17th, with a time of 4:12.22, with all of the girls running their best individual splits of the season.

“I’m very proud of how all four girls ran,” Bertrand said. “It’s a young team and we didn’t have Sofia. All these girls got good state experience and all these girls will be back next year with Sofia. None of those girls had ever run at state before. You want everyone to run their best at state and that’s what they did.”

Coach Bertrand is already looking toward next season. A large portion of the team is getting ready for their fall sports. Bertrand hopes that one of the lessons athletes can take away from this season is the value of hard work during the offseason. Sutherlin was an example of this last year. He practiced and refined his technique for the entire offseason, which helped him qualify for state this year.

Preseason track practice will start around Thanksgiving.

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