Max Ornelas, Kalen Ballage, Alex Mead, and Marcus Harris bust out of the blocks in the invitational heat of the Mullen Runners Roost 100 on Saturday. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Over the last few years, several meets have sprung up in direct competition against the Mullen Runners Roost Invitational. Neverthless, the Mullen meet annually produces some of the top showdowns of the season. And nothing about that statement failed to come true on Saturday.
After a very chilly start to the day, the big performances entered on cue as the 1600s took the track.
Much premeet discussion centered on the matchup of Jordyn Colter, Tabor Scholl, Elise Cranny, and Erin McLaughlin in the 1600. It wasn't deep into the race, however, before Cranny decided to push the pace and take this one over. For a brief period of time, Colter, McLaughlin, and Scholl gave chase, but the futility of that enterprise settled in fairly quickly. Sometime in the second lap, only Colter was making even a pretense of hanging with Cranny's blazing pace. Colter stayed close enough to take advantage of any power outages that might have derailed the Cranny Express, but none came. For the remainder of the race, Colter would stay within a range of 10 - 20 meters behind Cranny. The rest of the field dropped farther and farther behind.
Long before Cranny reached the finish straight of the fourth lap, it was apparent that the 4:57 meet record was not long for this world. Cranny crossed in 4:53.13, while Colter followed in 4:58.30. Although the state all-classification record held by Melody Fairchild survived this round, Cranny has now closed the gap on that record to a very attainable 3.27 seconds. And, for her efforts, Cranny was able to take out Laura Tremblay's all-time 4A mark along the way.
A few minutes later, Thompson Valley's Daniel Lara delivered a crushing blow to the hopes of all others who had dreamed of winning the Mullen 1600, taking first in a nice time of 4:19.55, and the parade of great performances was in motion.
Barely seconds after the conclusion of the 1600s, Silver Creek's Valarie Allman was slinging the discus, prompting an unusually large crowd to make the extended trek to the Mullen discus ring. Although Allman came up short of establishing yet another new state record on the day, it's hard to look a 179-6 as a disappointing throw. As a point of reference, Allman broke the existing 4A all-time best discus mark at least year's Mullen Runners Roost with a throw of 157-3.
Back on the track, Alexa Chacon, Taylor Klein, Erin Bowers, and Ashley Miller lined up as the top four seeds in the 100 hurdles. Expectations rose as the field was introduced to the crowed. Chacon took a mid race lead and held it until the final hurdle when she was overtaken by the freshman phenom Ashley Miller. Despite a -2.3 wind, Miller would finish in 14.62. All four top seeds finished under 15-flat.
The breeze abated somewhat for the boys 110 hurdles invitational heat, won by Niwot's Lorne Jenkins in 14.88.
The next high-octane showdown came in the boys 100. Side-by-side in lanes one and two were Eaglecrest's Marcus Harris and Mead's Alex Mead. Though not technically the top seeds in the race, they came to the starting line with the best races. Mead got a great start and managed to hold speed just enough to edge Harris, 10.76 to 10.77 (+0.0). Regardless of his placing, it was good to see Harris back on the track.
The girls 300 hurdles saw a rematch of the same talent that kept things lively at the front of the 100 hurdles. For the most part, the story line of the 300s mirrored the story line of the 100s. TCA's Alexa Chacon built a lead through the middle portion of the race only to be overtaken again at the end by the patient persistence of Cherry Creek's Ashley Miller. Erin Bowers joined the pair with sub-45 times for the event.
The boys 300 hurdles also featured a rematch from the 100s. This time, however, the order of top finishers reversed itself, with Vista Ridge's Darrian Morgan taking down Lorne Jenkins, 39.39 to 40.01.
Meanwhile, back at the discus ring, Mountain View's Tyler Sipes continued his stellar season with a winning throw of 157-1 in the boys discus. Sipes, however, had a much smaller crowd to witness his winning throw than Allman had to accompany her efforts.
Vista Ridge looked very sharp winning the 4x200 in 1:28.47, beating second-place Cherry Creek by nearly a full second and cross-district rival Falcon with a single rousing effort. Cherokee Trail won the girls 4x200 in similarly spectacular fashion with a 1:43.24.
And all of that served to set up what was unquestionably the best race of the day. For those who missed Cranny and Colter in the 1600, there would be a still better showdown at 800 meters (photo, left).
It was difficult to avoid noticing that super alley 3 of the girls 800 put Elise Cranny, Tabor Scholl, and Jordyn Colter into a common grouping. It was clear that there wouldn't be any issues of finding one another at the break line if any of the three wanted to gauge her pace off the other two.
It wasn't long into the race before it was clear that Cranny and Colter shared a common singular focus of winning the battle. At 200 meters, it was already clear that the race would come down these two. Cranny opened a small lead, but Colter refused to cave, gobbling up the space Cranny tried to put between them and riding just off the outside shoulder of Cranny.
Cranny surged at 500 meters, but Colter answered the surge, staying in the same spot on Cranny's outside shoulder. Surge met counter-surge around the top turn and repeatedly again down the finish straight. Although Colter threatened with every stride to take over the lead, Cranny answered every challenge, crossing the finish line first in a meet (and 4A) record time of 2:09.94. Colter finished a slim .14 seconds behind.
Daniel Lara finished earning his recognition as male track athlete of the meet by outlasting Alec Brudzinski and Daniel Book of Cherry Creek down the final 100 of the boys 800. Lara took the win in 1:55.07, while Brudzinski and Book were both only hundredths of a second behind.
It was apparently Cherry Creek's afternoon to finish in second as Zainab Sanni turned aside Emily Romo, 24.80 to 24.99 into a fairly stiff wind (-3.1) in the 200 meter dash.
Cherry Creek did, however, find a large measure of redemption in the 4x400. The Bruins ran Jordyn Colter and Ashley Miller as their last two legs and neither gave the slightest hint of having spent hard in two races each earlier in the day. Miller took over the lead midway through the final lap and pulled away with ease. When the FinishLynx camera captured Miller's image, it was a mere 3:53.85 of elapsed time.
If you're looking for easy ways to beat Cherry Creek later this spring, those opportunities figure to be in short supply.
Meet Photos, Videos, and Results