If you saw the finish of this race, you aren't likely to forget it any time soon. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Records are made to be broken. And a few girls 800 meter records are in danger of being broken this spring. The fields are as tough and as deep as they've been in recent memory. Maybe in not-so-recent memory as well.
So, what records could be in danger? Oh just a couple big ones. Emily LaValley's 3A record. Tara Mendozza's 5A and all-classification record.
The field is solid in 4A. The field is outstanding, but not especially deep in 3A. The field is outstanding in 5A. It appears, at least at this moment, to be something of an off year shaping up in 2A, but the presence of Lyons in 2A gives you a little pause about deciding that too quickly.
Ashley Atkin looks like the girl to set the new 1A standard this spring. Here's hoping she parks it below 2:20 to start things off right.
So, let's start the discussion at 4A, where Samantha Thompson's 2:10.92 is the classification standard. Heather Bates has transferred to Discovery Canyon but may be ineligible to compete this spring pending a transfer rule determination. She would be a good candidate to push Thompson Valley's Karina Ernst a little with Alamosa's Jenny DeSouchet having moved down to the 3A ranks.
As it is, Beth Luckel (Vista Ridge) and Janelle Martinez (Greeley Central) look like the two most likely candidates to keep things stirred up at the top of 4A. Ernst has the best returning mark in the classification from last year at 2:14.93. A little interesting tidbit on Ms. Ernst: she was part of the fabulous Thompson Valley 4x800 team of 2009 that set a new state all-classification record and eventually dipped below 9:00. The other three are all running collegiately these days.
In 3A, Samantha Berggren lost her classification record to Emily LaValley in a very tight finish last spring. Berggren, however, has a shot at redemption this spring. Not only does she have a shot, but she's likely to get all the push she needs from Alamosa's Jenny DeSouchet. In fact, it's far from unthinkable that DeSouchet gets all the push she needs from Berggren. Either way, both are seniors going after one last shot. If they come to the starting line healthy on the Friday of the state meet, it should be a glorious battle right through the finish line.
The 3A girls 800 meter record currently sits at 2:11.08 with a state meet record of 2:11.24. Those are more than five seconds below what the record was just five years ago at this time. The record has been broken every year but one in the interim.
Although Estes Park's Kim Hansen returns from last spring with a sub-2:18 mark on her resume, nobody else in 3A appears to be in the same league as Berggren and DeSouchet.
How about 5A? Well, how about 5A?!
Will we see another duel down the finish straight between Eleanor Fulton and Olivia Anderson? It certainly seems possible.
Both Fulton and Anderson are within striking distance of Mendozza's all-time Colorado mark of 2:07.52. If they stay healthy, they should be able to push each other to the brink of that kind of time. This one could be one of the better stories of spring, 2011. The record has stood for 15 years. For many of those years, it looked as if it would stand forever. Not so much so any longer.
Fulton and Anderson come into the season with a substantial gap on the rest of the field. But it's not at all a weak field.
Returning with sub-2:15 times are Alesha Knudson of Mountain Range (perhaps the surprise of last year's 5A state 800), Kristen Narum of Fairview, Kailie Hartman of Loveland, and Kristina Fischer of Ralston Valley. Right behind these young ladies are Gina Hauptman of Liberty, Leigh Stonerook of Ralston Valley, and Rikki Gonzales of Rangeview.
With at least two very exciting state races shaping up, it's fun to think a little about what the strategies of the various key players might be. Will one of Anderson and Fulton (or one of Berggren and DeSouchet) allow the other to stake a lead early or will the races be shoulder-to-shoulder affairs. Who has the most confidence in her kick over the last 100 meters? How will earlier state races play into the eventual outcomes? Can anyone else sneak into contention in either of these races?