Thomas Hoffman of Platte Canyon leads the 3A 800 field around turn 3 at last year's state meet. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Last year’s 3A boys race was an interesting one, as 12 points separated 2nd from a tie for 9th, and 2nd from 1st. As former 2A power Lyons moves into the classification and Roosevelt moves out, two questions arise: will the points be spread as evenly this year, and will anyone be able to unseat Platte Canyon? One thing that can not be questioned is the impressive firepower that the 3A schools will bring to Jeffco Stadium this year.
The Huskies will look to repeat behind defending champions AJ Mellilo and Thomas Hoffman. Melillo, the 200 winner a year ago, could also be a force in the shorter dash, while Hoffman, perhaps lost in the glare of distance runners in other classes, might be very high on a list of the top 800 runners. He ran 1:54.30 last year. These two probably will figure into Platte Canyon’s relay plans. All three sprint relays were tough in 2008, including a 4x2 unit that took home the state crown. Jacob Farnum and Trevor Kirby, both juniors, could also claim big points in the pole vault; they finished sixth and ninth last year.
When two of the nation’s finest athletes reside at the same school, that team is instantly a threat, and Buena Vista has two such athletes. Unless the competition is allowed to use a rocket launcher on their attempts, Mason Finley has 20 points locked up; but will he add Jim Banich’s 27-year-old shot put record to the one he owns for the discus? Those of us who didn’t get to go to Pueblo last spring are eager to find out. Joseph DeMoor, he of 10th-at-Footlocker-Nationals-fame, should put up big points in the distances. Will the two studly Demons get any help? If so, Buena Vista could be hard to beat.
Faith Christian, last year’s 5th-place finisher, will rely on a talented group of distance runners who finished 4th at the state cross country meet last October. Eagle hopes will also fall squarely on the shoulders of 400 runner Grant Stegahuis and triple jumper Hayden Loudenslager, who were both 3rd at state in 2008.
Roaring Fork, behind long jump champion Tyler Thompson and thrower Jon Araujo, could make some serious noise as a twosome—they scored top-3 finishes in the horizontal jumps and throws and finished with 34 points in 2008. Do they have any help this year?
Other teams to watch include perennial powers Bayfield, with returning strength in the pole vault, sprints and 800/1600/4x8, Classical Academy, behind their state-title-winning XC crew and pole vaulter Kevin Schwindt, and Erie, who despite losing some great talent last year, should never be counted out.
The individual battles will be just as hot in several events. DeMoor will have his hands full in the distances with Andrew Roberts of Lyons (last year’s 2A 3200 champ), Amos Bowen of Brush (3rd in XC last fall), Sterling Zehnder of Platte Valley (1:58/4:39 at state last year), and Jackson Walsh of Pagosa Springs (3A 3200 champ in 2008). Will the friendly confines of Jeffco produce some epic performances this year? These 3A boys think so.
Gabe Meidl of Machebeuf returns as the champion at 400 and Sam Hutchinson of University will give Hoffman a run at 800. State records of 48.70 and 1:52.75 could be in the range of these middle-distance aces.
Dan Gieck of Manitou Springs, last year’s champ in a fine 14.54, should also take on the 300s as well; word is he had to avoid them last year due to knee troubles. Can he take down the 3A record of 14.37 by Brad Gamble?
Blaise Lake (Denver Lutheran) is the top returner in the 100 (11.13) and should be a force in the triple jump.
Jaloni Martinez returns as the triple jump champ, with an outstanding mark of 45 feet, 2 inches to his credit.
Gunnar Haynes of Eaton won last year’s high jump with a “modest” jump of 6’3”, but he was only a freshman! How high might he fly with a year under his belt?
The 3A boys will make a long-awaited return to Jeffco this year and should capture a lot of attention—Colorado track and field fans have a lot to look forward to this spring!