CU track and field: Buffs bid goodbye to Balch after 78 seasons

David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer
Runners compete in the men’s 1-mile race on the 200-meter track during the Potts Invitational at Blach Fieldhouse in Boulder on Saturday. It was the last track meet the University of Colorado will hold there. More photos:

Balch Fieldhouse has served the University of Colorado track and field team well for the past 78 years, but after the Potts Indoor Invitational this weekend, the university’s team will be moving over to the new campus facility.

Because the fieldhouse has been beaten up and outdated for some time now, most coaches and athletes won’t miss it as they look forward to their new home.

For Mark Wetmore, cross country and track head coach of 21 years, the transition to the new facility has been a long time coming.

“I don’t know anybody that feels much nostalgia,” Wetmore said. “The other place is a modern, practical, new facility, and this is a 76-year-old impractical facility. We’ve been waiting a long time and we’re glad to get going.”

At Balch, sprinters and distance runners often have to adjust to run on the smaller track, and the sprinters often find themselves running into the doors to help them slow down after a race. With the larger scale of their new space, which feature a six-lane 300-meter track, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

“I’d like to believe that, a new facility would make the throwers throw farther, but it’s really just we have more room to co-operate and the design of the track itself, the size of the track itself, is safer for distance running and their preparation, and also for the sprinters too. Safer for everybody,” Wetmore said.

Over the years, Balch’s condition has led to interest in meets there to decline, especially with the Potts Indoor Invitational.

“There isn’t much competition,” Wetmore said. “The interest in this meet has waned over the years, possibly because of the constraints of the facility. I’d like to believe that the interest in this meet will wax, if that’s the term, once we move over to the new place.”

For throws coach Casey Malone, the farewell to Balch comes with mixed feelings as he reminisces in all the memories he’s made there as a coach and the athletes who have come and gone.

“It is (nostalgic), and I think part of that is because I’ve had the opportunity to be here long enough to compete in this facility for almost 15 years now,” Malone said. “I like the history of Balch Fieldhouse. I think it’s pretty special.

“I think it’s going to be very exciting to move to the new indoor facility, but yeah, there is going to be a part of me that will remember all of the athletes that have come through here that I’ve coached over the years.”

Throughout the shot put and weight throw events Saturday, the Buffs performed well while hitting new personal marks and throwing well overall.

“It was an exciting day,” Malone said. “This is, as far as I know, our last meet in Balch. It’s fun to see everyone kind of have the last run in this fieldhouse, so it’s a historic moment in that sense. But as far as performances go, we had a couple (personal records) today which are always wonderful and I think a good overall performance of our last competition at Balch Fieldhouse.”

As a whole, the men’s and women’s throws team performed well, but sophomore thrower Mariah Walker stood out in the events she competed in. Walker won the women’s shot put with an effort of 46-11 ¼ and finished sixth in the weight throw.

“I’m a little sick, but I think I did pretty OK. I’m pretty consistent with how I’ve been throwing at practice, so that’s always nice,” Walker said. “It’s always about performance and like, technique, no matter how you feel.”

Alissa Noe:


Field events – CU athletes only

Women’s weight throw: (1.Linnea Jonsson, Colorado State, 58-11.25); 2. Sophie Hallam-Eames, 57-4; 6. Mariah Walker, 52-4.5; 7. Elisa Grandemange, 44-5; 8. Delaney Hall, 38-1; 9. Makenzie Kline, 37-7.5

Men’s weight throw: (1. Alex Kizirian, Buff Track Club, 67-0.25); 2. Tyler Schultz, Colorado State, 59-4.50); 3. Brady Rutt, 58-5.75; 7. Matthew Denton, 46-9; 8. Grayson Weber, 43-10.75; 9. Austin Swanson, 32-6

Women’s shot put: 1. Mariah Walker, 46-11.25; 3. Abrianna Torres, 41-4; 4. Elisa Grandemange, 32-8; 5. Maja Wichhart-Donzol, 32-4.75; 6. Michaela Wenning, 32-2.50; 7. Rachel Sharpe, 27-9.75; 8. Lauren Sharpe, 27-3.75

Men’s shot put: (1. JT Van Veen, Colorado State, 56-10.50; 2. Tyler Schultz, Colorado State, 55-2.75; 3. Daniel Weirich, Colorado State, 53-8.25); 7. Austin Swanson, 42-0.25; 8. Grayson Webber, 41-4.75; 9. Andrew Ghizzone, 35-9.00; 10. Joseph Martinez, 29-5.00; 11. Nate Gravelding, 26-7.25

Women’s high jump: 1. Kelsey English, 5-7; 2. Rajon O’Quinn, 5-7; 4. Abrianna Torres, 5-50; 6. Maja Wichhart-Donzol 5-3; t7. Lauren Sharpe, 5-1; t7. Michaela Wenning, 5-1

Men’s high jump: 1. Duane McClurkin Jr, 6-7.00; 2. Mason Chronowski, 6-5.00; 3. Dionne Taylor Jr., 6-3.25; 4. Andrew Ghizzone, 6-1.25; 5. Joseph Martinez, 5-11.25

Men’s pole vault: 1. Andrew Ghizzone, 14-5.25; 2. Nate Gravelding, 12-11.50.

Men’s long jump: 1. Duane McClurkin Jr., 21-6.75.

Women’s long jump: (1. Ja’la Henderson, Wyoming, 18-11.75); 2. Abrianna Torres, 18-1.50; 3. Rachel Sharpe, 17-13.25; 6. Michaela Wenning, 16-3.75; 7. Lauren Sharpe, 15-11.50.

Men’s triple jump: (1. Scott Carter, Wyoming, 50-2.50) 3. DeJour Plunkett-Elliott, 43-5.

Women’s triple jump: 1. Maja Wichhart-Donzo, 37-6.50.

Track events – CU athletes only

Men’s 60-meter dash: (1. Zane Evans, Unattached, 7.02); 2. Austin Mitsch, 7.03; 4. Duane McClurkin Jr., 7:06; 5. Jaysean Skrine, 7:16; 6. Abdiel Agramonte, 7.22; t8. Andrew Ghizzone, 7.39; t8. Alexander Billing, 7:39; 13. Joseph Martinez, 7.62; 14. Nate Gravelding, 7.66

Women’s 60-meter dash: 1. Ana Holland, 7.49; 6. Rajon O’Quinn, 7.88; 8. Mia Holland, 8.09; 9. Abrianna Torres, 8.10; 10. Maja Wicchart-Donzo, 8.24; 11. Rachel Sharpe, 8.34; 12. Lauren Sharpe, 8.50; 14. Michaela Wenning, 8.77

Men’s 60-meter hurdles: 1. Alexander Billing, 8.26; 4. Andrew Ghizzone, 8.62; 6. Nate Gravelding, 9.42; 7. Joseph Martinez, 9.92.

Women’s 60-meter hurdles: (1. Mikalah Skates, Wyoming, 9.06); 2. Abrianna Torres, 9.13; 3. Maja Wicchart-Donzo, 9.39; 4. Rachel Sharpe, 9.88; 6. Lauren Sharpe, 10.41

Men’s mile run: (1. Paul Miller, UNAT-Colorado, 4:26.84); 2. Chris Herrick, 4:31.80

Women’s mile run: (1. Mackenzie Caldwell, UNAT-Colorado, 5:05.00); 2. Eryn Blakely, 5:08.00

Men’s 400-meter dash: (1. Said Moreno, Metro State, 52.91); no CU athletes

Women’s 400-meter dash: (1. Hayley Bowen, Metro State, 1:05.33); no CU athletes

Men’s 800-meter run: (1. Nick Harris, unattached, 1:55.03); no CU athletes

Women’s 800-meter run: (1. Elissa Mann, unattached, 2:14.52); no CU athletes

Men’s 3,000-meter run: (1. Mike Matuszak; unattached, 10:12.41) no CU athletes

Men’s 4×400 relay: (1. Metro State ‘A’, 3:47.13), no CU athletes

Women’s 4×400 relay: (1.Metro State ‘A’,4:28.29), no CU athletes