Maria Mettler was reportedly sick. You'd have never known it by her performances.
Of all the shockers to arise out of the state meet weekend, and there were a few, none ranks as high as Air Academy dominating the 4A Girls competition in the way they did.
The Kadets were relentless. And, it's not as if Niwot and Valor had terrible meets. The Kadets simply conquered.
The face of that conquest was senior Maria Mettler. Her physical stature gives not a clue to the kind of influence she wielded over the 4A Girls conquest.
In fact, it all started with Mettler's breathtaking (in more ways than one) victory in the 3200 meters on Saturday morning. Mettler's relentless pace whittled the crowd of contenders down as steadily as the laps ticked themselves off. By a little past midway in the race, it was down to Mettler and Denver North's Kayla Young.
But, as Mettler wrapped the throttle a little tighter at the end, even Young fell off the pace. Mettler crossed the finish line in an eye-popping 10:47.25, exactly nine seconds ahead of Young.
Tatum Miller added a bonus point for the Kadets in ninth at 11:25.
The perspiration was barely dried from Mettler's brown before Katelin Gallegos was slinging discs like her life depended on it. Gallegos popped a 124-3 on her first throw and came back with a 124-6 exclamation point on her final throw. Gallegos' state meet, then, netted two PRs in four throws.
More importantly, it netted a second place and eight points worth on contribution to the cause.
The Kadets weren't quite done for the day. Not even close, in fact.
The Kadets picked up another, and even larger, lift mid afternoon in the 200 meters. Olivia Whitaker exceeded her seed by two places, taking second in 25.09. Kamerin Valdes did one better. Running with the #11 second, Valdes finished fourth in 25.77.
The magic was starting to percolate.
Mettler was back at the end of the day, anchoring the Air Academy 4x800 to a fourth-place finish in 9:40. Teammates Paige Embaugh, Lilli Hamilton, and Miller joined Mettler in the effort.
The Kadets went home that night with 39 points, one point behind the heavy favorites at Niwot.
No momentum was lost overnight.
In fact, you had to see Maria Mettler's 800 to believe it. Pueblo West's MaLeigha Menegatti went straight to the front and set a solid, honest pace through the first 400. Mettler bided her time. Then, at about 500 meters--and when you typically begin to understand what the story of an 800 is going to be--Mettler's legs started turning faster.
Soon, Mettler was in the need and creating a lot of turbulence in her wake. Pine Creek's Layla Almasri gave credible chase, but she simply couldn't turn over fast enough to reel in the speedy Kadet. Mettler stopped the clock at 2:14.55, and the Kadet fire was roaring once again.
Over in the shot put ring, Gallegos was lobbing projectiles at the other flank of the resistance. Gallegos opened with a big PR at 36-4 and that would be all she needed to claim a fourth.
Evidently, Mettler and Gallegos enjoy working in tandem. And, with results like they saw this weekend, who's to argue?
A few minutes later, Allyson Stanley added three points in the high jump.
There was no mistaking the concern in the Niwot camp.
Concern grew to angst as the 100s rolled down the straightaway. In an outcome nobody saw coming, Whitaker and Valdes multiplied the impact of their 200s with a 1-6 finish in the 100. 14 points were heaped onto the fire--a bonfire that was already singing hairs of the arms of anyone who dared to draw close.
Which leads us all to the 4x100. You probably already guessed Whitaker and Valdes had two of the legs. Caitlyn McCubbin and Emma Kucharek joined them for a second-place in that relay, up a whopping nine places from their seed.
Niwot mounted a few replies. Mary Gillett and Mackenzie Fidelak went 1-3 in the 400 (but Whitaker added four to the Kadet cause in the same event). Alexis Carroll won the triple jump.
The gap, however, wasn't going away.
An exhausted Mettler stepped to the track one more time for the 1600. This time, Mettler was beaten to the finish line by Lauren Offerman, who had opted out of the 800 earlier in the day. Still Mettler claimed second, and the eight points that went with it, at 5:04.20. And, as the saying goes, that drove the final nail into the coffin.
It didn't matter that Air Academy no-pointed the 4x400. It wouldn't have mattered if Niwot had won the 4x400. The Kadets finished with 92 points to Niwot's 83. And the greatest team upset of the 2017 Colorado State Track and Field Championships was complete.