Amongst all the Wolverines set to travel east this weekend, one in particular seems to be relishing the chance to compete. Not just because he’ll be up against entrants from larger schools, but because he’ll be competing, period.
“Because in the past few meets I haven’t really been jumping with anyone other than Dylan Baken from Durango,” explained junior pole-vaulter Dawson French. “He’s a good buddy of mine, but he’s been injured recently, so I’ve been wanting to jump with people. It gets boring to do it alone sometimes.”
After a strong April in which he prevailed at the Abel Velasquez Invitational in Ignacio (highest clearance of 12 feet), then the BHS-hosted Pine River Invitational (13 feet), and placed second to Baken at DHS’ Ron Keller Invitational (12 feet) before not competing at last weekend’s High Altitude Challenge in Alamosa, French indicated that, like standouts such as David Hawkins or Jordan Lanning, he’ll hope to show what he can really do at this Friday’s Pueblo Twilight and Saturday’s Doherty Spartan Invitational in Colorado Springs.
“Fourteen feet. That would make me happy for sure,” he said. “I’m excited to be jumping with the 4A and 5A guys. Pole vault is no easy sport, but I think this is the largest growth I’ve had in my three years of doing it.”
With two wins, most recently at the Challenge via an 8-06 best that equaled her first-place max at Ignacio’s meet, and a second-place day to her name this past month, senior Hannah Whitmer will also look to position prominently against opponents inside both Dutch Clark and Garry Berry Stadiums.
“We’re going to have some of the best competition we’re going to have all year, possibly even more than state,” said head coach Josh Walton. “The Pueblo meet, I think, is going to bring 40 schools to it, and the Doherty meet between 25 and 30 schools. We’re not going to be going against 1A and 2A schools like we’ve been down here.”
Walton noted that more than 20 athletes in all will make the trip to the Front Range, while those who don’t are scheduled to hit either the two-day Bloomfield Invitational or Saturday’s Pagosa Springs-hosted Terry Alley Invitational.
But as for his primary weapons, Walton expressed confidence in their capabilities.
“I think we’re going to do really well,” he said. “David gets to throw against a guy that’s throwing the discus 199 feet and the shot 57 feet, so we’re looking forward to David having that competition. And Josh Kaufmann will have to step up to do well in the discus; we’re hoping for (personal records) from both of them.
“Jordan’s going to run the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles on Friday, and then she’ll run those also on Saturday. Again, she’s going to have some people that are a little faster than her right now, but we like running against competition that pushes us to be better, too. Mikayla Barnes has missed much of this week because she went and toured a college in Illinois and hopefully has a good showing. She’s going to be pushed, too. She’s not the top thrower at these meets, so she’s really going to have to bring her A-game to try and make the finals.”
Walton indicated he’ll pay attention this weekend to the performances of some of BHS’ younger talents, including freshman boys Cael Schaefer and Marco Evangelista, as well as freshman girls Emily Nelson and Abby Tate.
“Our future looks bright,” said Walton. “Cael, last weekend in Alamosa, ran a 12.18 100-meter dash, which we’re really excited about. Marco is kind of a multi-dimensional athlete; we’ve had him high jump, long jump, he’s thrown the shot, the discus, he runs the 100, the 200, the 400.
“Abby’s shown quite a bit; she’s run the 200, triple jump, and I think we’ve had her long jump a couple times. She’s been willing to run the 400 when we’ve asked her to. She’s showing promise and if she puts forth the effort she could definitely be one of our top runners.”