SHS track buckles down for last chance to go to state |

SHS track buckles down for last chance to go to state

Shauna Farnell

State competition is on the line for the Summit High School track and field team, and long drives to regional meets in Elizabeth and rainy, gusty weather have added to the challenge so far.

After a four-hour drive to the first part of state-qualifying events in Elizabeth Wednesday, most of Summit’s times and distances were less than optimal, but a few came out ahead of the weather.

“It was hailing for a while, and the wind was awful,” said Summit senior Lani Pusey, who didn’t qualify for state in the 3,200 medley Wednesday but has had top-five finishes in most of her events at the larger meets throughout the season.

Despite the adverse conditions, certain Summit athletes performed better than they have before.

Sophomore Sandra DiBrito was the first Summit athlete to qualify for state in the triple jump, an event she hadn’t previously dominated.

“Triple jump hasn’t been one of her big events,” said Summit track head coach George Keyes. “It’s cool that she stepped it up at the right time.”

DiBrito jumped 28.8 inches, significantly farther than her previous best jump of 24 feet. Freshmen Mike Holloway and Betsy Jason also qualified with leading performances. Holloway took fourth in discus with a throw of 124 feet, 7 inches and Jason qualified in the 100 hurdles, finishing in 19.5 seconds.

“Mike was throwing mostly into the wind,” Keyes said. “If he was throwing to 3 o’clock, the wind was coming from 2 o’clock. His form’s gotten really good. Especially as a freshman, he’s understanding the form and the stance of discus.”

Preston Johnson, one of Summit’s top-placing athletes all season, qualified for the finals with the fastest time of anyone in the 300 hurdles. He finished first in his heat with a time of 41.6 seconds. Erin Young qualified in the high jump with a second place, and although she didn’t qualify for finals, Tara Carosa finished her mile heat about 70 yards ahead of her competitors with a time of 6:16.

Ray Zakahi, Summit’s best male jumper who has jumped nearly 20 feet this season, missed his state qualifying jump with a distance of 18.8 Wednesday.

“I think he’s putting himself in great position for next year,” Keyes said. “It was within his reach, but you have to be able to do it on the right day in the right conditions. The 30 mph winds and 30-35-degree weather didn’t make for the best performing (environment).”

Summit heads back to Elizabeth for regional finals Saturday morning, where the six seniors on the team could either end their competition careers or go out on a stronger foot by qualifying for state, scheduled May 17-18 at Jeffco Stadium .

“When I was (at state) last year, I was just happy to make it there,” said Pusey, who is one of the team’s soon-to-be graduates and will try again to qualify Saturday. “My favorite event this year has been the open 800. Almost every time I run it, my time improves.”

Summit will compete against 11 other high schools Saturday, some of which the team hasn’t gone head to head with yet this season.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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