Freshmen girls continue to lay foundation for Hayden track |

Freshmen girls continue to lay foundation for Hayden track

Hayden track and field led by strong contingent of underclassmen

Austin Colbert

From left, Tiger freshman Paige Barnes, freshman Allison Ingols and junior Darian Murphy — a first-year track athlete — run sprints during track practice Wednesday at Hayden High School.
Austin Colbert

— Ralph Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction is an intimidating venue for one's second varsity track meet. Only two weeks after opening the season at Rifle, the Hayden High School track and field team took its young squad to the Mickey Dunn Invitational on April 2, Stocker Stadium's impressive press box towering over the bug-eyed underclassmen.

"At first, I was a little bit nervous coming into the season and walking into a huge stadium," Hayden freshman Allison Ingols said. "But, as we got into it, I became comfortable and now I can't wait until the next one."

There is still a hint of fear for the Tigers, who continue their season at Coal Ridge Friday, less than a month before the state track meet gets underway in Lakewood. But, as the weeks go by, this fear is being replaced by excitement and determination.

With roughly 30 kids out for the team this spring — more than double what Hayden had in 2015 — the large numbers have meant more competition from within. And, of those 30, not one is a senior. In fact, the majority of the team consists of underclassmen, led by a strong freshman class of girls.

"It was really difficult at first. I was really nervous. But about the third track meet, we really started to come together," Hayden freshman Paige Barnes said. "It's just awesome to see how far we've come. I can't wait to see what we are going to be like in a couple years."

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Outside of a few standout athletes, the last few seasons have been rebuilding years for Hayden track, led by fourth-year coach Pat Moore. But Moore believes a foundation has been set for the future of the program, spearheaded by a gaggle of eager freshmen who are just beginning to realize their potential.

Like all teams, the Tigers are entering the home stretch for getting kids qualified for the state meet. As it stands, only two would currently be headed to the big dance in freshman Makenna Knez — she ranks 13th among 2A girls in the 3,200-meter race — and Ingols, who is clinging to that final state spot in the triple jump.

However, Hayden does have numerous others on the bubble and is confident it will sneak in a few more before the May 19 and 20 state meet.

"It's crazy to watch this young of a class and just start to think about what they are going to be doing in four years. And I think that's what we needed," Moore said. "I've been waiting for a class like this to start building the program. And the sophomores and juniors we have on board with them right now, you can't beat it, because it's a good group of kids that want to be here and are working hard every day. So it's fun."

Among those on the cusp of the top 18 are the girls relay teams, comprised mostly of three, if not four, freshmen. The girls 400-meter relay team is two seconds behind that elusive 18th spot, while the girls' 800-meter relay team is only a second back. The girls' 800-meter sprint medley is also two seconds away from the current qualifying time.

Freshman Faith Day is just two inches away from the top 10 in the high jump, with two boys — sophomore Alan Aguirre (sprints) and junior Christian Carson (discus, shot put) — also within striking distance.

"It would be huge," Ingols said of making state. "It's so exciting to even think I'm there at that level as a freshman. Even the honor of going would be amazing."

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert