Successful winter may help Hayden track team |

Successful winter may help Hayden track team

Hayden's Jake Walker lunges for the finish line at last year's state track meet in Pueblo. Walker returns this year after finishing fourth in last year's state meet. He's one of five Tigers to return after earning state experience a year ago and one of two to have earned a medal at that meet.

2009 track schedule

9 a.m. Saturday at Hotchkiss Invitational

9 a.m. April 4 at Glenwood Springs Invitational

TBA April 16 Hayden Tiger Invitational at Craig

9 a.m. April 18 at Rifle Invitational

9 a.m. April 18 at Meeker

TBA April 21 at Rangely

3 p.m. April 24 at Moffat County Invitational

TBA May 8 and 9 at regionals in Grand Junction

TBA May 14 to 16 at state at in Lakewood

— Hayden High School sports hit its high tide Saturday, as the Tigers girls basketball team finished third in the Class 2A state basketball tournament.

That surge came on the heels of the wrestling team’s fourth-place state finish.

Now, Hayden track coach Barbara Manzanares said she’s seeing that wave of success lift the track team, as well.

Hayden already has had one athlete qualify for the May 14 to 16 state track meet at Lakewood’s Jefferson County Stadium, and with a strong and experienced team returning, the Tigers could have many more.

“It’s been such a nice high the kids have been riding on,” Manzanares said. “I’ve been wondering if that has been energizing our kids.”

Hayden got its season under way last week at a meet in Delta. Tiger junior Murphy Smartt reached the pre-qualification mark for high jump at 6 feet, 2 inches.

If all goes well, Manzanares said Smartt won’t be alone in making the trip to the Front Range.

The top candidate to join Smartt is a no-brainer. In fact, the qualification process is likely just a formality for Hayden senior Holli Salazar. Athletes across Colorado can make the state meet either by achieving a certain mark in their event or by placing in the top three at the regional track meet in early May.

That won’t make Salazar sweat. She won the Class 2A state shot put championship last spring and will be trying for her fourth trip to state and back-to-back titles in the event.

Sprinter and long jumper Jake Walker joined Salazar at state and on the podium a year ago, finishing fourth in the 100-meter dash. He returns for his junior season.

Delanie VeDepo, Krista Tomke and Calla Manzanares also return with state experience. They were a part of the 3,200-meter relay team a year ago.

A few other Hayden athletes also have good chances to earn a spot at state.

Junior Maddison Kopsa missed the end of the season a year ago with an injury and could be a part of another strong 3,200-relay team.

Rene Valdez isn’t far behind Smartt in the high jump. Billy Zehner should be one of the team’s strongest hurdlers, and Chris Zirkle will be one of Hayden’s best threats in the distance races.

“Some of those kids, they got a real taste of success in the last year, and they’re coming in and wanting to do it again,” Manzanares said. “The first couple weeks of practice have gone really well, and they just keep improving.”

– To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail

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