Hayden track team returns many state placers
The Hayden High School track and field team got off to a strong start last weekend at the Rifle Invitational.
Senior Alison Rajzer won the girls triple jump, and senior Jillian Bennett finished second in the 200 and 400-meter runs. The results could be an excellent indication of how the season might go for the talented Tigers girls team, which is returning many state placers.
Rajzer will be looking to win her third straight triple jump title at state. If she pulls it off, she’ll have won the state championship every year she could have in high school. The 2020 state championships being canceled because of the pandemic dashed hopes of her becoming a four-time champion.
Bennett was a state placer in both the 200 and 400 last year, and took second in the 400. She’ll be a favorite to win the event this year.
Both Bennett and Rajzer were part of the 800-meter medley relay that took second at state last year. The squad lost senior Mia Mikos, but Bella Svoboda, who moved to Hayden last summer, has been a nice addition to the school’s sports teams and should fill Mikos’ spot on the relay teams well.
Also returning are relay team members Isabella Simones and Jenna Kleckler. They’re sure to improve in their individual events as well. Also returning to the team this year is sophomore thrower Dakota Munden.
“We’re going to be real strong like we were last year in the girls events,” said coach Joe Knez said. “The relays, we’re going to be looking to have a big year there again in basically all the same events as last year.”
The Tiger boys lost many talented seniors to graduation, so it might be a bit of a rebuilding year, though it’s still too early to say.
Junior Brayden Dale and sophomore Logan Silva are both back after having great seasons last year.
Dale ran in the 100 and 200-meter races in Rifle last weekend, finishing in the top 12 in both. With more than 70 competitors from all competitive classes, making the top 12 was a great starting point for Dale’s season.
Knez is confident in the group of freshmen, but he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on their shoulders.
“We help them keep their expectations realistic,” Knez said. “We don’t put them in positions that are going to be too intimidating at first. We just work them in slow. We don’t overbook them at the meets — keep their events to a minimum.”
The team hasn’t been able to jump outside yet. They’ve been spending most of their time inside, including jumping onto mats rather than into sand pits.
“We have had a few workouts outside, but we haven’t had the opportunity to work through relays and exchanges, so we haven’t entered any of that yet,” Knez said. “We’re looking to change that in the next couple meets.”
Entering relays and more field events will come as the team is able to get back into practicing them once the weather turns to consistent spring conditions. Hayden’s season will continue Saturday, March 26, in Hotchkiss.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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