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State scene pristine to Ignacio’s Pontine

Joel Priest/Special to the HeraldIgnacio's Alexis Pontine throws the discus during Monday morning's practice at IHS.
Jeffco-bound Bobcat making big-stage debut

Generator of the Bobcats’ lone point at last week’s Grand Junction Tiger Invitational, Ignacio High School junior Alexis Pontine’s eighth-place 91-feet, 3-inch throw of the discus carried more weight than one might think.

Throwing in the fourth and last flight with the event’s favorites, Pontine joined Class 4A Durango’s Sydney Flores, who paced the 38-thrower field with a 121-02 maximum, and 3A Bayfield’s Emily Nelson (fourth place, 104-04) in solidly representing Colorado’s southwest with the 2021 CHSAA State Championships only a week away.

“It was probably the closest thing to state she’s seen so far,” said IHS throws coach Damian Brisendine. “She had some issues with that ‘hitch’ again, in the back (of her throwing motion), but we’ve worked that out. Hopefully she gets comfortable with it enough. Consistency is where it counts, right?”

Joel Priest/Special to the HeraldIgnacio throws coach Damian Brisendine, left, points out a technique element while analyzing video with state-bound discus thrower Alexis Pontine during a pause in Monday morning's practice at IHS.

And thanks to consistently-improving results – achieved in a relatively short time span, what with Pontine having to more or less wait until IHS girls soccer signed off before truly tackling track-and-field training – Pontine’s season didn’t end at Ralph Stocker Stadium; she’ll wrap it all up Friday inside Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood, throwing as part of Class 2A’s state meet.

Thanks to a season-best 97-08 launched at the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League Championships on June 8 in Mancos, Ignacio’s sole state qualifier (girls or boys) will be seeded 16th out of 18, with the Day 2 spectacle commencing at 11 a.m. Friday.

“When I first started doing track, I was just expecting to have fun, get in shape,” Pontine said after Monday morning’s workout at IHS. “But then as the season went on and I got to practice more after soccer was over, I started really liking disc, understanding the technique and stuff. I’m really excited for state, and I think it’s a real cool opportunity.”

Brisendine knew Pontine could rise quickly in the throwing event once soccer season was over.

“Once she got into it, man, she just buckled in and really picked it up,” he said. “I mean, she gained really quickly; I think in two meets she’d gained probably 15, 20 feet. It’s awesome.”

Joel Priest/Special to the HeraldIgnacio's Alexis Pontine throws the discus during Monday morning's practice at IHS.

Holyoke junior Lauren Herman will go in as the No. 1 seed, owning a 122-00 thrown during Brush’s Beetdigger Invitational, while Paonia senior Lauryn Kiefer (115-04 at the Rifle Invite) is seeded second and Holyoke junior Correy Koellner (113-11” at the Wiggins Invite) third. Wray junior Chloe Cure (96-01) and Rangely sophomore Rylee Allred (96-00) round out the qualifiers, each getting three attempts to advance to a top-10 final round. Each will then receive three more tries with the title at stake.

The top 13 entrants in this year’s field have all exceeded 100 feet at least once this spring – an objective Brisendine, who placed 13th in disc (plus 17th in the shot put) at state in 2017 as a Burlington senior, believes is within Pontine’s developing range.

“She’s really close,” he said. “She’s been hitting some hundreds in practice, and I think if she hit about 100, that’d set her up in a good place. And this year, that’s pretty feasible for her. Next year, if we keep working, I bet we could get 105, 110 easily. There’s a lot of potential, she’s a natural athlete, and I think she’s got it in her.”

Pontine, who first began throwing a disc in eighth grade, said the key to reaching 100 feet is all about a smooth throw with a focus on consistent technique.

Having recorded a program-rare hat trick during a 7-1 rout of Del Norte in Ignacio’s second-to-last soccer match, Pontine said the well-scrutinized state atmosphere probably won’t affect her when she finally steps into the ring seeking, as observant IHS Boys’ Track & Field head coach Alfonso ‘Ponch’ Garcia emphasized during a pump-up pause in Monday’s practice:

“One mark. That’s all it takes.”

“It’ll be a lot like club volleyball; so many people, really competitive athletes there to win,” said Pontine, alluding to numerous Colorado Crossroads-type tournaments attended by hundreds of teams plus their respective spectators, “and so, I’m actually really excited for it.

“Especially because I wasn’t expecting to (qualify),” she added with a smile.

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