James Lee ran away with the 1,600 victory at the Boulder Snow Invitational Saturday.
"I ate my lunch a little too close to the race," Lee admitted. "I actually felt fine during the race. Then a few minutes after it really hit me."
While Lee was saved from the discomfort of emptying out his gut until after the race, he made the most of his four minutes, and 22 seconds on the track.
A solid field lined up for the boys mile, which included Cruz Culpepper and Michael Mooney. When the gut fired out no one was eager to set the pace. The field cruised through the first 400 in 67 seconds before Isaac Roberts jumped to the front and pressed the the pace, stringing the field out. Lee, Culpepper and Mooney hovered over his shoulder as the race wore on.
"I didn't have a huge game plan going into the race," Lee explained. "I just wanted to sit for a while and see how the played out."
With 600 to go Lee felt comfortable enough to strike. He quickly separated himself from the chase, which was down to Culpepper and Mooney at the bell. Down the back straight Lee oozed confidence as he clipped away. Meanwhile, Culpepper and Mooney were in a hotly contested battled for second. As Lee rounded the final curve and into the straightaway, he had no shadows - the race appeared his. But in the race for second, Culpepper and Mooney made up ground in the final 100, inching closer to Lee before running out of real estate. Lee crossed the line first in 4:22.32, while Culpepper was a second back in 4:23.68, and Mooney in third in 4:24.20.
Of note, Culpepper's 4:21 PR was at sea-level last month, he nearly duplicated the time here, running 4:23.
While the sun played peek-a-boo for most of the day, one thing that was consistent throughout the meet was top-notch track and field, as spectators were treated to a slew of state-leading performances.
In the sprints Mary Gillett came off the blocks hot. The Niwot senior swept the sprints with ease. Gillett ran two state-leading marks, and claim three victories. She won the 100 in 12.41, and the 400 in 57.22 - both state-leading marks, and she won the 200 in 25.46.
Anna Shults took the 800 victory, winning the event in a state-leading 2:21, while the girls 1,600 hosted some of the best distance runners in the state. Broomfield's Katelyn Mitchem set a hot pace early while teammate Madison Mooney chased, along with Tiana Bradfield. Mooney pressed the pace after halfway and telescoped away with a state-leading 5:07 victory. Behind her Bradfield used a late sprint to catch Mitchem at the line. Bradfield finished second in 5:13.07, just ahead of Mitchem's 5:13.61.
Niwot's Mackenzie Fidelak impressed in the hurdles. Fidelak won the 100 and 300 hurdles outright. She dominated the competition in the 100 hurdles, running 15.51 - a one second victory, while duplicating her success in the 300 hurdles, winning in 46.05.
In the relays it was all Niwot, who ran two state-leading times. Niwot won the Sprint Medley Relay in 1:52.68, and the 4x400 in 4:08.
Like the track evens, the field saw more state-leading marks. Amber Gustason starred in the throws, winning the discus in a state-leading 124-1, while the Silver Creek's Rylee Anderson opened up her outdoor season with a 5-5 victory in the high jump. Boulder's Lily Margolis claimed the long jump in 17-7.25, while the pole vault was stacked with competition. Abigail Gray led the charge, winning the event in 11-6, while Heidi Liles and Robin Peterson went 2-3, recording vaults of 11-0, and 10-6.
Niwot proved that they are once again state-champion material. The girls dominated with a staggering 172 points. Broomfield was a distant second with 67 points. The boys competition was much closer, but the Niwot boys made it a Niwot-sweep, taking the team competition with 86 points, just ahead of Silver Creek's 69.