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San Juan Basin schools gear up for track and field season

Dove Creek boys, Mancos girls aim to repeat as league champs
Mancos teammates Brooke Jabour and Adaline Kearns, seen here at the Ron Keller Invitational at Durango High School in April 2023, are among the Bluejays’ key returners in 2024. (Ben Bradley/ Special to The Journal)

CORTEZ – In the state track and field championships, a team can win the title with just a handful of athletes performing at a high level. To win a league title, however, it takes a deeper roster to scrape every possible point that may separate first place from the rest of the field.

Entering this spring, Mancos, Dolores and Dove Creek are setting their sights on the final San Juan Basin League prize.

The Dove Creek boys used a strong senior class to run away with the crown last year. This year, the Bulldogs will turn to a new wave of contributors to stay atop the heap.

Meanwhile, the Mancos girls utilized the aforementioned depth across the sprints, distance, jumps and throws to pile up enough points to continue their SJBL streak.

With early-season meets already in the books, the Bulldogs, Bluejays and Bears have a look at how the league title chase might shape up this year.

The Dove Creek boys dominated the sprints, hurdles and jumps a year ago, and the Bulldogs return some strong pieces from those respective areas.

Dove Creek’s Colten Fury reaches for extra distance in the long jump at the Mancos Bluejays Invitational in April 2022. Fury is one of the Bulldogs’ key returners in 2024. (Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal)

Seniors Colten Fury and Cody Alexander lead the way, with Fury looking to guide the Bulldogs in both the short sprints and the relays. Alexander continues to improve his hurdling acumen in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. Sophomore Jonathan Davis looks to expand the Bulldogs’ repertoire with success in the distance events.

On the girls side, junior Aspen Nye can showcase her range from the 100 meters up through the middle distance events, as the Bulldogs look to fortify their squad after the basketball season concluded.

The Mancos girls have another deep squad this season and look to threaten the league title chase – leaning on experience from sophomore Brooke Jabour in the sprints, joining juniors Adaline Kearns and Sarah Knezek, who have the capacity to score points in various events including in the middle distance. Sophomores Remy Dillon and Tylee Greenlee add even more depth to a dangerous sprint crew.

For the Mancos boys, senior Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle is gunning for another state appearance, flexing his muscles in the throwing events alongside classmate Elliott Sam. Sophomore Jonah Ritter enjoyed a fantastic freshman campaign in the sprints and jumps, and he looks to keep climbing the leaderboards in 2024. Junior Spencer Eschallier also enjoyed success last year, including a strong season in the jumps, and will lead the Bluejays in that department this spring.

The Dolores boys have their own state qualifier returning this season, with sophomore Michael Rantz taking to the 400-meter dash again. Meanwhile, the distance crew that enjoyed a strong cross country season look to build on their autumn success with freshmen Owen Lowe and Corvin Smith, and sophomore Bridger Beyhan looking to make their mark in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter events.

For the Dolores girls, one of the largest teams in recent years takes to the oval this spring with a strong distance crew. Juniors Everlee Heaton and Maya Lowe guides a group pushing for big things this season in the 3,200-meter relay and distance events. Meanwhile, juniors Coralea Wright and Savannah Stiegelmeyer eye similar success in the sprinting events this year.

After opening the season March 9 in Farmington, the area schools continue to build toward some of the big midseason meets, including the Pine River Invitational March 30 in Bayfield, followed by the Bob Archibeque Invitational in Cortez two weeks later.

Mancos will host its annual Bluejay Invitational on April 26, before the SJBL Championships April 30 at Ignacio.

The state championships run May 16-18 at Lakewood’s Jefferson County Stadium, featuring the top individual competitors and relay teams from each of Colorado’s five classifications.

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