Freshman Audra Koopman scored the biggest day at the Altitude Running Invitational, including winning the long jump at 17-9. Photo by Alan Versaw.
There was nothing unconvincing about it. Not even the vaunted Pine Creek girls squad put up so much as a whimper of resistance. In the team scoring, it was Fort Collins - 161, Pine Creek 114 for the girls, and Fort Collins - 134, The Classical Academy - 68 for the boys.
It's been said that nobody cares about winning team titles at invitationals any longer. Tell that to the dancing Lambkins in the middle of the field following the meet. If Fort Collins was looking to make a case as a state-title contending team, they made that case about as well as it can be made in March. In view of this effort, "going out like a lamb(kin)" takes on an entirely new meaning.
It is true, however, that the efforts Fort Collins met up against were measured efforts.
Cerake Geberkidane won the 1600. As expected. He ran a new season-best time for the state in the event. As expected. But, Geberkidane was clearly not angling for any records on Saturday. For one full lap, he toyed with the field like a cat plays with a captured mouse. Then, as the cat swings velveted paw in torment, batting its hapless captive to and fro, Geberkidane took the lead and rode off into the sunset, but not with any special sense of urgency. Those waiting for a record will have to wait for another time and another place.
The celebrated Laramie distance duo or Henry and Henry were disinclined to give serious chase, perhaps spent from a big effort in the 3200 from earlier in the day. In that event, they ended up chasing the backside of Collins' Luke Sheesley, who won going away in 9:33.
There were the measured efforts of Chyna and Maya Ries. Chyna ran 12.42 in the 100 prelims and deferred on the finals. There may have been concern over a slight injury, but that is pure speculation on my part. Maya ran 15.51 in the 100 hurdles prelims and deferred on finals after completing the triple jump to the tune of 35-3.5.
Pine Creek's Ally Watt posted the top times in the 100 and 200 meter prelims, and then won the finals heat of the 100 in 11.85. Watt, however, left the premises before the finals of the 200. Her prelims time of 24.81 stands as the best time in the state this season. In one last parting shot, Watt did join the team of Howie, Baron, and Baron to post the season's best 4x100 time at 48.06.
And the Barons, too, were measured in their efforts. A 100 prelim and final for Heide and a 200 prelim and final for Madelyn, and a 4x100 leg for both. Mackenzie Howie made the big expenditure on the day for Pine Creek, running both the 100 and 200, prelims and finals, and adding in the 4x100.
Suffice it to say we haven't yet seen the full wingspan of the Eagles.
Zachary Alhamra? Maybe off on spring break...
For Fort Collins, however, the fountain of nice marks kept bubbling over. Josiah Cuckler won the 100 in 11.42. Luke Sheesley came back from his 3200 and ran second in the 400 at 51.63. And, he finished his day with a turn with the baton in Collins' 4x400. Langston Stuckey narrowly missed wins in the long and triple jump, posting a 21-3.5 in the LJ for the better of the two runner-up marks.
The girls had their share of show-stopping marks as well. Audra Koopman proved to be the most prodigious point producer of them all, taking second in the 100 at 12.23. first in the 200 at 25.12, first in the long jump at 17-9, and carrying the stick for 200 meters of a winning 1:44.31 relay.
Lauren Gregory chipped in with a 10:55 3200 and a blistering leg of the winning 4x400 (4:06.07, photo, left, by Alan Versaw). And now we know; Gregory has some nice turnover, too.
Josie Natrasevschi won the discus at a mere 148 feet, and narrowly missed a shot put title to TCA's Hannah Carr. Carr threw an even 40; Natrasevschi's cannonball punched the dirt at 38-9.75 for second. The good news, however, for Natrasevschi is that she currently holds a monstrous lead in the 5A girls shot put rankings. And the discus, for that matter.
The team of Hooker, Guild, Oweimrin, and Conlon dominated the 4x800. Becca Schulte added a second in the 400 and an another leg of the aforementioned 4x400. All in all, it was a dominating kind of day for the girls in Nike purple.
And still, as the Lambkins danced their hearts out on the artificial turf behind the prison-grade fence, you had to pause and reflect on how many missed opportunities there were on the day. To wit, after a chilly start to the morning, the day turned stark raving gorgeous and not a single mark all day was lost to a non-legal wind. Given the marginal, or worse, conditions most meets have endured this spring, that checks in as a whole bundle of lost opportunity.
Hopefully those opportunities roll around again.