Dana Maydew and Niwot closed out their first state title with a rousing triumph over Thompson Valley in the 4x400. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Cherry Creek isn't the only team that has had enormous track and field talent but never won a state title until this year. Niwot would have to rank high on that list as well. All that is over now--and Niwot has all the potential in the world to be a better team next year. In the always-tough Northern Conference, things don't figure to get any easier any time soon.
In fact, things started very modestly for Niwot on day one. Elise Cranny anchored a 4x800 team to second place, but league rival Thompson Valley took the relay. Meanwhile, Pueblo South was having an incredible day and appeared to have the upper hand on meet momentum.
Elise Cranny changed a lot of that with two record-breaking runs on Saturday, first in the 3200, then later in the day in the 800. 10:38.99 and 2:08.50 are the new records, but they may not last through next year given that both Cranny and Katie Rainsberger of Air Academy are back next year.
Cranny would claim another title in the 1600 on Saturday, but it would take more than Cranny's heroics to win this thing. Fortunately, Niwot had plenty enough firepower to finish the job.
Freshman Kela Fetters surprised for four points in the 300 hurdles. The 4x100 and 4x200 hung tough for six points altogether. The SMR8 added another five. Pole vaulter Gabby Casey snared four. Discus thrower Nicki Blue tacked on another three. It was points by nickels and dimes, but even nickels and dimes start to add up after a while.
Coming into the last event of the meet, Niwot had 60 points to 52 for Sand Creek. It would have taken a highly unusual turn of events in the 4x400 to change the order of things, and Niwot's quartet made certain nothing unusual transpired. In fact, the group of four did one better, taking down the favored Thompson Valley team to win the event and post an exclamation point on their first ever state title at 3:56.09.
While Sand Creek came up short in their title bid, they did achieve their school's highest state finish in any sport. Getting them there were Hayley Gantt (4th, 100 meters), Rebecca Harris (2nd, 100 hurdles; 1st, long jump), Mariah Walker (1st, shot put; 5th, discus), and the usual speedy set of relays.
Following their brilliant Thursday start, Pueblo South would fade to third, while pre-meet favorite Thompson Valley struggled to fourth. Injuries had long since exacted a serious toll on Thompson Valley and their relays took the brunt of the missing team members.
In addition to the two meet records posted by Elise Cranny, Valarie Allman updated her state meet record in the discus, and Lewis-Palmer's Nicole Montgomery ran 54.23 to shatter the existing 4A 400 meter record. Montgomery had the singular misfortune of seting her new record only minutes before Ana Holland stole the show with a new all-class record in the 400. Montgomery also helped establish a new SMR8 state meet record on Friday. Valor Christian waited until Saturday to obliterate the 4A 4x100 record with a 47.85.
Amazingly, despite Marybeth Sant's absolute dominance of the 100 and 200, those state meet records still belong to Ashley Owens. If you watched Sant run this weekend, you begin to understand just how out-of-sight those two records are.