George Washington's 4x100 anchor takes the baton while Loveland's Stefanie Tuder, appearing hopelessly behind, awaits the pass from Kaylee Packham. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Actually, fireworks might have been kind of boring compared to what was going on down on the track. Friday night in Longmont was a celebration of everything that is great about high school track and field.
It's going to take a while to get through the highlights, so make yourself comfortable.
No highlight of the evening looms larger than the girls' 4x100. At first, the race looked like anything but a contest. Dior Hall to Chyna Ries on the first two legs had George Washington looking like a college team in a high school meet. Meanwhile, Loveland was building a huge gap on the rest of the field--a gap more or less matching the gap GW held on Loveland.
By the third exchange, the outcome seemed set in stone, GW would finish with the best time in the state in several seasons and Loveland would finish a very respectable second. Someone, however, forgot to hand Stefanie Tuder a copy of the script.
Stride by stride, Tuder chewed away at the 10-meter lead GW held at the exchange, slowly--almost imperceptibly--at first, then with increasing urgency as the finish line loomed nearer. By the time Tuder blew by the FinishLynx cameras, she had edged out GW by .08 seconds. The marks of 47.23 and 47.31 gave both teams top-50 national times in the 4x100, an event typically dominated by teams from the sauna belt states--Georgia, Florida, Texas, and the like.
Several hundred fans in the stands and lining the fence along the track shook their heads in disbelief. They had witnessed the impossible.
But rousing peformances were standard fare for this day at Everly-Montgomery field on the campus of Longmont High School.
It began with a 9:17.37 for the Thompson Valley girls 4x800 team. But, this isn't exactly uncharted territory for Thompson Valley, so nobody saw this as the opening act of a deluge of standout performances.
But, the momentum of the afternoon seemed to grow at almost every turn.
Otis's Andrew Perry (above) stunned a field of accomplished 4A and 5A throwers, winning the discus at 161-9. Richard Feltenberger got some good velocity on a shot put and sent it 57-0.5. On the track, Middle Park's Sam Little shook off a season of lethargy, stunning Josh Mielke with a 14.66. Mielke came back with a vengeance, however, in the 300 hurdles, pulling away from Little, and everyone else, with a 37.69. That time moved Mielke to #27 on the national list (another list traditionally dominated by the sauna belt states).
Just minutes before Mielke ran his 37.69, however, Loveland's Kaylee Packham had stolen the show with a 42.53. Packham's brief little joy ride over 10 hurdles and 300 meters of polyurethane coated track had left her at the #15 spot in the national rankings.
As the sun began to approach the western horizon, Chyna Ries uncorked a 19-5.5 (+1.3) in the long jump. Good enough for #20 in the national rankings. With the day's light almost entirely gone, Berthoud's Courtney Mills smashed the 3A all-time triple jump record with a 40-0.75 (0.0), taking Mills into a tie for the #12 slot nationally.
The fun never let up, all evening long.
MaryBeth Sant outdueled Chyna Ries in the 100, 11.65 to 11.78 (+1.3), sending both onto the first page of national rankings in a few heart-pounding seconds.
Dior Hall skipped the 100 hurdles on Friday evening, but made up for it by winning the 200 in 24.50, just .09 ahead of Sant.
3A stars Shelby Stableford and Mel Herl made their marks on the meet: Stableford by winning the 3200 in 11:14.42 when temperatures on the track were at their afternoon peak of well over 90F, Herl by pitching the shot put 42-2.5.
For the boys, Broomfield's Harrison Einsphar run away from the 200 field with a 21.57 a few short hours after being bested by Ben Meyer in the 100, 10.56 to 10.61. In that same 100 heat, Berthoud's Troy Johnson lowered the 3A all-time best mark to 10.88.
2A Ryan Boucher of Lyons stunned favorite 5A Zane Jeffress of Fairview in the 400 with a winning time of 49.22.
There wasn't a safe moment all evening long to go stand in the concession line.
The St. Vrain Invitational is no longer a mid-major meet. When you list the best and most competitive meets in the state, you must now speak of the St. Vrain Invitational in the same sentences as meets like Mullen and Liberty Bell. This is a meet that has come of age.
Meet Results, Photos, and Video (content to be added all weekend)