PAGOSA SPRINGS – With eyes on a big finish to their 2021 season, the Montezuma-Cortez track teams posted some of their best performances of the season in the Terry Alley Invitational Saturday at Pagosa Springs High School.
In a meet that doubled as the Intermountain League meet, the Panthers earned 17 top-three results.
With the anticipation of putting plenty of black and orange in the 3A State Championships on June 24-26 in Lakewood, head coach Bob Archibeque had his team poised to compete for league titles, as well.
Sophomore Sophia Shepard dominated the horizontal jumps, taking the top spot in the triple jump (31 feet, 4.75 inches), and second place in the long jump (14-8.75). Shepard also took fourth position in the 200 meters (28.98).
Meanwhile, senior Devon McHenry captured an individual league title in the 300 meter hurdles, as the multisport athlete outpaced the field with a time of 52.31 seconds. Her effort, in combination with a fourth-place finish from classmate Cassandra McCully, allowed the Panthers to keep pace with Alamosa in the team title hunt. McCully also took second place in the 100 hurdles (17.97).
Juniors Avery Wright and Kenzie Huston finished first and fourth, respectively, in the 100 meter dash, and the tandem factored prominently into a pair of league champion relays, in the sprint medley (2:10.35) and the 4 x 200 (1:52.93).
The 4x400 relay took second for the Lady Panthers, while senior Paige Yarbrough took the silver in the discus (90 feet, 4 inches) to round out the top three finishers for the girls. In spite of the top finishes in multiple events, M-CHS couldn’t quite keep up the Mean Moose, which dominated the distance events to pick up the team title.
For the boys, senior Zander Cruzan continued to produce one of the best seasons for an individual sprinter for the Panthers in recent years, as he blitzed the field in the 100 meters (11.35) to further solidify himself as one of the best in the 3A classification. He then posted a second place in the 200 meters (23.04).
Cruzan and the sprint relays put together fine performances, as the Panthers took second in both the 4x100 (46.97) and 4x200 (1:37.61) meter relays.
Sophomore Sawyer Smith continues to sit in a state qualifying position in the triple jump, and helped the Panther cause again with a winning leap in the league meet, covering 39 feet, 11½ inches.
Senior John Whyte took third place in the 800 meters (2:07.30) and fifth in the 3,200 meters (11:31.12), and boys 4x800 meter relay took third place to score in the distance events for the Panthers.
Senior Wes Atcitty added a sixth-place effort in the 300 meter (48.60) hurdles.
In a tightly contested meet between the Intermountain League foes, Alamosa had just enough to outpace the field to take a sweep in the boys and girls team titles.
With opportunities to improve qualifying positions for the 3A State Championships dwindling, the Panthers will head to Grand Junction for the Tiger Invitational on Thursday, June 17, with their sights set on one of the coveted 18 spots in state championship field for each event.