In a race with big state team title implications, Loveland's Kaylee Packham edges ahead of Katie Weber and Haley Brogan. Photo by Alan Versaw.
The 5A girls state title came down to the last event. The boys title was decided much earlier, somewhere in the middle of the days sprint events.
One lesson learned from the 5A girls contest is that it's very difficult to come back on any team, let alone a good team like Lakewood, when you've spotted them 25 points in a single event. And that was exactly what the field did in the 5A girls pole vault.
Lakewood's total domination of the pole vault very nearly catapulted the Tigers over another the bar--the bar of 5A state champions. Only a patient, persistent comeback on Loveland's part--with a couple of big breaks thrown in--kept Lakewood from hoisting the gold trophy.
The key break Loveland needed came early on Saturday morning. With a steady rain falling, the 5A 100 hurdles finalists stepped to the line. All but one, that is. Lane 5 was open, meaning Dior Hall was missing. Kaylee Packham siezed on the opportunity and won the event in 14.46 (+1.5). Although Lakewood, too, likely gained a point from Hall's absence, the event title and two extra points for Loveland took on a symbolic significance. Momentum surges ahead with seemingly small nudges.
The rest of the day was a string of success for Loveland. Packham would defeat top-seeded Haley Brogan of Lakewood in the 300 hurdles finals. Anna Gerhard and Sydnie Spencer improved on their combined seeds and pick up eight points in the shot put. Loveland would take a critical win over upstart Pine Creek in the 4x100 and finish a strong second to a stacked Littleton team in the 4x400. At the end of the day, that was well more than they needed to push past Lakewood.
Interestingly, on a purely mathemetical level, Lakewood benefitted more--in total--from the absence of Dior Hall (and, later, Chyna Ries) in Saturday's finals than Loveland. In the 200 meter finals, Lakewood's McKenzie Brogan likely moved up two slots by virtue of the scratches. But Lakewood was unable to capitalize on the opportunity as Loveland did.
But Loveland and Lakewood were not the only teams with title aspirations on Saturday. State title starved Cherry Creek was also looking to make a little history.
Cherry Creek had several opportunities on Saturday, but couldn't make quite enough of any of them to overtake Loveland. Emily Romo finished fourth in the 100, and fourth again in the 200. Sarah Clough managed a seventh in the 400. Jordyn Colter battled the elements admirably in the 1600 and finished second at 5:02.48, but teammate Olivia Anderson just missed the scoring. Anderson had earlier placed fifth in one of the best 300 hurdles fields at the state meet in years. The Bruins also got a fourth out of the 4x100. All told, however, it was not enough.
The final tally had Loveland with 85.33 points, Cherry Creek with 78, and Lakewood with 71.5 Everyone else was is a different area code. Loveland repeats as state champion.
Things were not nearly as interesting on the boys' side, though you would never have known it by talking to the Fort Collins coaching staff. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes, but Fort Collins truly had no peers at this meet.
Raymond Bozmans overcame a tight hamstring on Saturday to claim wins in each of the 100, 200, and 400. He left the track after the 200 clutching his hamstring a little, but, at that point, it had completed the job it needed to do. The times posted were not vintage Bozmans, but on this day they didn't need to be.
Whether or not Bozmans had been able to finish the day, Fort Collins had help coming from other corners as well. Jacob Hanks went 56-7.75 to win the shot put by six inches over Colten Deters of Grand Junction. Chase Thurgood battle miserable conditions in the triple jump, but still went 43-7 for two points. Ryan Rogers and Caleb Seeton combined for four points in the 300 hurdles. The 4x100 added a point to the tally. Matthew Hughes picked up an additonal two points in the 100.
All of that was more than enough to keep the rest of the field at arm's length--or more. When all events had completed, Fort Collins owned 74 points. Second place was 21 points back with 53.
And perhaps the most surprising thing about that second-place total was the team it belonged to. Though somewhat lightly regarded, and perhaps unfairly so, coming into the meet, Fairview had a very nice state meet fueled largely by the exploits of Ben Meyer, Richard Sanchez, and some nice relays.
As is so often the case, the performance highlight of the meet belonged to none of the top contenders for the team title. For 111 short seconds on Friday afternoon, Monarch's Kirk Webb held the entire Jeffco Stadium crowd spellbound as he chased the 5A state meet record in the 800 meters. Though the video shows Webb letting off the gas perhaps one stride too soon, his effort was good enough to lower the 5A state meet record to 1:51.75.
With an entire pack chasing him, Webb approaches the finish line in state record time. Photo by Jeff McCoy.
That 1:51.75 is also the fastest high school 800 meter time ever run on Colorado soil. The current all-classification record is an anomaly in the Colorado record books as it was run at an out-of-state event. The practice of taking state records from out-of-state events has been discontinued since the time that record was set.
Webb would also win Saturday's rain-drenched 1600 in 4:17.41.
Hopes for another state record in the 4x400 fell short as Heritage edged Rangeview, with both teams just a little over 3:17. I remarked in an earlier article on this site that Doherty had not yet quite joined the top tier of 4x400 relays in the state. The Spartans definitely joined that group late on Saturday afternoon, finishing third in 3:18.38--a nice ending for a couple of seniors running that relay.
Highlands Ranch sophomore Connor Turnage took a big win in the triple jump at 47-3.5 (+1.8) and left the impression that maybe, just maybe, we won't be missing Tony Carodine and Scott Carter next year in that event as much as we thought.
Pine Creeks' Alleandra Watt left an imprint on the state meet vastly out of proportion with her stature. The diminutive freshman won the 100 in 11.79 (+0.5) and the 200 in 24.11 (+1.5). That glow around the stadium you noticed between rain showers on Friday afternoon was the smile on Coach Max Oliver's face. It's been a while since Colorado Springs has seen a young woman with this kind of speed.
Devan Foster doubled up her surprise win in the 800 on Friday with a 4:59.68 to win the 1600 on Saturday. There won't be many more surprise wins for Foster.
And, finally, Poudre's Carly Paul repeated as 5A state high jump champion with a clearance of 5-8, best of the season for Colorado in all classes.
5A State Meet Highlights Video