Heritage Christian Academy had a whole roster of heroes this past weekend, but none found their way to as many points as Isaiah D'Amico. Photo by Alan Versaw.
It's honest to say we saw it coming. It would be less than honest to suggest we saw the margin by which Heritage Christian Academy and Vail Christian pulled away from the rest of the field.
Christian school teams with a running emphasis are fond of putting a reference to Isaiah 40:31,
... but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,...
somewhere on their teamwear. While I'm pretty certain the primary meaning of that passage has little to do with either track and field or cross country, it did seem curiously applicable this weekend. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, seemed to wear down the guys from either Vail Christian or Heritage Christian Academy.
Nothing seemed to wear down Clay Russell, either, but we'll get to that part of the 1A boys story in just a little bit.
On paper, neither Vail Christian nor Heritage Christian Academy seemed like 85 or 90-point teams. Paper can be deceiving that way. And, clearly, neither the Saints nor the Eagles were paying attention to that kind of message. Mostly, it seemed, they were paying attention to each other and engaged in a friendly game of "Can you top this?"
It came down to the last event of the meet, the 4x400, with Heritage Christian Academy up on Vail Christian by a count of 84 to 77. Under most circumstances, 84 is going to win that battle, but things aren't always guaranteed. VC ran like they weren't guaranteed, earning a second in 3:42.24. But HCA had enough left in the tank to keep from letting this one slip out of their hands. The 3:43.42 the Eagles ran was more than enough to preserve their top standing. And so, the big trophy went home to Fort Collins where is has an identical twin in the trophy case from last year.
Only the guys who earned it last year were a very different cast from the guys who earned it this year. Heritage Christian Academy looked to have graduated the franchise last spring, but Joe Packard found the guys walking the hallways (does HCA have more than one?) this year to make the magic happen again.
Mostly, the Heritage Christian Academy/Vail Christian story from this weekend is a story of guys meeting or exceeding seeds. All weekend long.
For Vail Christian, Cole Caynoski delivered big, taking a third in each of the three sprints. Clearly, three was a big number for Vail Christian this weekend, as Ethan Pence added two thirds and a fourth in the 800, 1600, and 3200. A little more gas left in his tank on Saturday and that 1600 might have been a third place finish as well. Relays contributed a fourth and two seconds. Nick Boyne and Cooper Daniels snared a first and a third in the pole vault. Branden Currey added a fifth in the discus. It was a monstrous state meet for the Saints.
Only it was five points more monstrous for Heritage Christian Academy. Jeff Stellingwerf exceeded a lot of expectations with a fifth in the 100 and a fourth in the 400. Distance did their part with Jason Richard taking seventh in the 800 and ninth in the 1600, and the duo Daniel Palmer and Luke Gilliland going six/seven in the 3200 on opening day. Kale Morgan ate his vegetables and took a fifth in the 110 hurdles and sixth in the 300 hurdles as his reward. Danny Weaver got a seventh in the shot put.
But, the biggest single contributor for the Eagles was senior Isaiah D'Amico. D'Amico didn't win any event titles, but his thirds in the long jump, high jump, and 110 hurdles, plus a fourth in the 300 hurdles added up nicely to 27 points. In case you were wondering, that exceeded seed marks by 8.5 points. In a five-point final margin of victory, that is huge.
The only event title for Heritage Christian in the entire meet was the 4x100 late on Saturday. The Eagles' 4x200 was DQd, and the 4x800 took a second. In all, it was a very impressive demonstration of depth for a 1A team.
The most visible meet fireworks, however, belonged to a senior out of North Park. Clay Russell swept the 100, 200, 400, and 800, with the 200 and 400 coming in meet record times. Better still, perhaps, Russell's 400 time would have won 2A and 3A as well. Russell's performance also matches the feat of Ashley Atkin from the 2011 state meet--a feat many of us figured we'd never see replicated. Some people, apparently, are just born to be fast. Add Clay Russell to your list of said people.
Granada's Koy Palmer dominated both hurdle events, and Kyle English did the same with the horizontal jumps. English was unable to take down his own triple jump mark from last year, but did get his name on the 1A list of state meet records a second time with his long jump mark.