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Local high school sports teams hitting midseason stride

Montezuma-Cortez's Tay Wheat takes flight during the boys' long jump Saturday, April 9, in Ignacio at the Abel Velasquez Invitational. Wheat leaped 19 feet, 4.5 inches, tying for second with Dove Creek's Kade Hankins.
New season bests highlight Abel Velasquez Invitational

With the season halfway gone, Montezuma-Cortez, Mancos, and Dove Creek used a midseason trip to the Abel Velasquez Invitational in Ignacio to stretch their legs and show off some versatility.

The Panthers, Bluejays, and Bulldogs all posted some season best performances, in hopes of cementing spots in their respective state championships at the end of May.

Already all-but-assured a spot in the 100 and 200 meter dashes in the 3A championships, M-CHS junior Zander Cruzan continued to expand his repertoire on Saturday, topping the field in the triple jump with a debut mark of 41 feet, 7 inches, good enough to top classmate Sawyer Smith by 2 inches.

The duo combined in the 4 x 100 meter relay, which took first in a time of 46.26, joining junior Austin Wood and freshman Tay Wheat to get the baton around the track the fastest.

Perhaps their effort brought out the best in Dove Creek's 4x100, as well, as the Bulldogs shaved over two-tenths of a second off their season-best mark to capture second in the meet. The quartet of sophomore Colten Fury, juniors Quaden Huffaker and Kade Hankins, along with senior Chorbin Cressler posted a time of 46.49, which will place them among the top teams in the 1A classification.

Joel Priest/Special to The JournalMontezuma-Cortez’s Zander Cruzan, show in an archived photo, continued to expand his repertoire Saturday at the Abel Velasquez Invitational, topping the field in the triple jump with a debut mark of 41 feet, 7 inches.

For M-CHS, the Panthers are looking to shake up the state standings, in spite of a smaller roster. Wheat continues to climb the standings on a regular basis, as he closes in on breaking 12 seconds in the 100 dash. His mark of 12.24 earned him fifth in the discipline, while he also took second in the long jump (19 feet, 4½ inches).

As for Dove Creek, junior Quaden Huffaker has exploded onto the scene in the past few weeks in the sprints and jumps, earning third in the 100 meter dash (12.17), just behind his teammate Cressler, who, in Cruzan's absence in the event, took top honor (11.62).

Hankins shook off the rust from the early season meets in one of his best disciplines, the 110 meter hurdles, to blaze a time of 17.60 in the event, good for second place and a mercurial rise in the state standings.

For the Bluejays, Mancos senior Mason Goodwin has made clearing 6 feet in the high jump a regular occurrence, as he surpassed the mark yet again to win the event in Ignacio.

Over in the throwing rings, classmate Connor Showalter continued his dominance in the shot put, winning with a mark of 47 feet, 6 inches – but his second-place finish in the discus may have been the more impressive toss of the day. Showalter improved his season best with a throw of 138 feet, 6 inches to take silver behind Durango senior William Knight.

Also providing strong efforts for their teams, Mancos sophomore Levi Manning took eighth in the discus (102 feet, 3 inches), while M-CHS freshman Ben Hoffman took seventh in the 400 meter dash (60.33). M-CHS senior Anon Plemons took fourth in the pole vault with a big improvement, clearing 10 feet, 3 inches.

For the girls, the improvements came in droves as well – Dove Creek senior Jessica Ayers took fourth in the discus with a 10-foot improvement in the event (84 feet, 2 inches), and helped the 4 x 100 relay squad drop nearly half a second off their season best in their second-place performance (56.95).

Mancos freshman Adaline Kearns posted a fifth place effort in the 200 meters with nearly a full second improvement in the event (29.83). Bluejay sophomore Clara Most took sixth in the 800 meters (2:51), while senior Tina Bayles claimed fifth in the shot put (26 feet, 5 1/2 inches).

Dove Creek junior Rylee Hickman eclipsed 14 feet for the first time this season, with a second-place effort in the long jump (14 feet, ½ inch) to lead a parade of three Bulldogs to score in the event.

M-CHS sophomore Savannah Hasselroth earned the highest placement of any Panther girl in the meet, taking third in the high jump (4 feet, 6 inches).

Many of the local teams will reconvene at Mancos on Friday, April 15, for the Mancos Invitational, with field events slated to begin at 9 a.m. and the running events to follow at 11 a.m.