It turned out the state 5A meet came down to a battle between two of the biggest teams in the state, Cherry Creek and Arapahoe. While these two high schools fought it out for the state title, it was for Evan Appel the meet he had always wanted.
Friday the Dakota Ridge junior won the 3200 meter race in 9:17. Then, on Saturday, came the much-anticipated 5A 1600. State cross country champion Appel, Dey Tuach, Bobby Nicolls, and Cherry Creek's Charles White, all in a single field. It was a tactical race with a crowded field and Tauch going down at the 200 meter mark on the first lap. Tuach got back up and fought his way back into the race. Appel made the decision to go on the third lap putting 10 meters on White, and later holding off the charging White at the end to win his second state championship in a time of 4:16.
While Cherry Creek could have used those two extra points, they were getting everything they could out of jumping star Roman Holmes. Holmes won the triple jump (50-9.25), beating his closest competition by almost four feet. Holmes also won the long jump at 24-5, this time two feet better than the nearest competitor.
In addition to Holmes's success at the jump pits, he also helped Cherry Creek take home the title in the 400 relay. One can only wonder if Charles White had run either the 800 or the 3200. That one additional race may have been enough to give Cherry Creek the team title.
Speculation aside, however, Arapahoe demonstrated its considerable depth and won the team title with a margin of only 3 points. Arapahoe can thank its relay teams. The Warrior relays scored in the 3200, 1600, and 800 relays. Likewise, kudos go out to Reger Craigo, the sprinter finished second in the 200 (21.49) and fourth in the 100 (10.89). Amazingly, Arapahoe won the title without winning one individual or relay event. It was very much a demonstration the depth they carried into the meet.
Other meet highlights:
- Dominic Roberts wins 200 (21.09) and 400 (47.27).
- Corey Engel of Northglenn High School wins the 100 (14.09) and finishes fourth in a very tight 300 (38.66).
- Smoky Hill's Chase Cooper extends his domination of the pole vault, winning with a height of 16-7.
On the girls side it was all about the sprints, and Montbello has sprinters, led by Natasha Gay, and Kayla Fisher-Taylor. The teammates went second and third in the 100, and first and third in the 200, with Gay winning the title in 24.24. On their way to winning the team title on the girls' side, Montbello also won titles in the 400 meter relay (48.15) and 800 meter relay (1:40.79).
Finishing second in the team standings was Fort Collins. Usually a distance powerhouse, the Lambkins used their sprinting and jumping to help them to a second-place finish. Ashley Foster and Emmalie Pfankuch supplied most of the punch. Foster didn’t win any state titles, but garnered places in both the 100 and 200. Pfankuch won the long jump with a leap of 18-0.25.
While the team race was a battle of traditional powerhouses, there was a battle of a different kind in the pole vault--a battle between 5A Kelli Ehardt of Rampart and 4A Elizabeth Stover of Longmont. In 2007 these two went at it, setting and breaking each others' state records. This year it was more of the same. On Friday, Stover set the new state meet record at 13-3. On Saturday, it was Ehardt’s turn and the senior did not disappoint. She valuted (13-1) and then tried to break Stover’s existing state record (13-4) by going for 13-5. Although she got three good looks at the height, the second of which was her best, she was ultimately unable to take the record back this year.
One can only hope that they continue this rivalry at the Great Southwest meet, this time competing for Colorado as teammates.
On Friday at the state meet, it was Air Academy junior Allie McLaughlin who stunned the crowed as she ran away from the pack on the second lap of the girls 3200 and never looked back. As one coach described it, “After the mile, they should have realized that she wasn’t coming back”. She ran an amazing 10:49.46 all alone. Second place went to Highlands Ranch runner Eleanor Fulton in 11:03.94. Fulton was also the state champion in the 1600 running 5:00.99.
Other highlights of the 5A girls' meet included:
- Becca Lindquist from Poudure racking up two second place finishes in the throwing events with 129-01 in the discus and 39-9 in the shot put.
- Ashley Fanelli of Arvada closed out her high school career by winning the girls triple jump (38–6.75), finishing third in the long jump (17-6), and finishing second in the high jump at 5–4.