Walsh's Jonathan England outduels Hanover's Todge Ai-Cooper for the 1A 200 meter title. Photo by Alan Versaw.
For at least one team at Jeffco Stadium, the rain was a blessing.
That one team would be Walsh. It's a complex story, stay with me for a while here.
Baca County is sparsely populated. Outside of Springfield, it's really sparsely populated. So, the high schools in Vilas, Walsh, Springfield, and Campo have a cooperative arrangment for fielding athletic teams when the individual schools can't field a team on their own. You know these cooperative teams as Baca County or South Baca (or, if you don't pay attention to 1A athletics, you may not know them at all).
Lately, Walsh has been doing just fine with fielding a track team on their own, but they are part of the Baca County cooperative for baseball. It so happens that Baca County was scheduled to play Stratton in the 1A state championship on Saturday. And you already know what happens to baseball when it rains.
What that meant is that Walsh had a lot fewer conflicted kids at the state meet on Saturday.
It might not have mattered, anyway. Once again, Walsh dominated the 1A state meet with 99.5 points to 75 for second-place Springfield (the rest of Baca County scored one point).
Walsh dominated largely without the help of relays. Outside of the 4x400, which Walsh won in 3:34.20, the Eagles tallied only 10 points in relays.
The biggest guns for Walsh were out scoring points in individual events. That would be Jonathan England, who had two firsts and a second in the 100, 200, and 400. There was Terrell Stafford who won the triple jump and finished second in the long jump. There were the Meardon twins, the utility infielders of track and field, who picked up points in the high jump, 1600, triple jump, 3200, and 800. You get the feeling the Meardon twins could have scored in other events as well except for that pesky four-event limit. And there was J. D. Chenoweth, who scored in the 300 hurdles.
Springfield once again went the route of relays and once again came up short to Walsh. But the Longhorns did win the 4x100 and 4x200 titles.
While nobody at this year's state meet grabbed headlines like Landry Cogburn did last year, Otis's Andrew Perry tossed a 170-7 in the discus and would have easily placed in every classification. Better still, Perry's throw would have won in every classification except 2A. Go figure that 1A and 2A had the two best discus throws in all classifications.
Like Walsh, Merino was replaying last year's tune in 1A girls. This year, Elbert ended up in second instead of Simla, but the gap on second was comparably large to last year's.
Merino isn't that big of a team, it just seems like it when they keep taking places in almost every event outside of the short sprints.
The biggest damage was done by Danielle Rinaldo, who won the 300 hurdles and finished second in the 100s, by the relay teams that took the 4x200, 4x400, and SMR8, by Malia Michel who took second in the pole vault, and by Anna Kindvall who won the discus and finished fourth in the 800. At the end of the day, Merino had turned back all resistance simply by scoring--and scoring well--in so many events.
Merino didn't have the individual stars of the meet, but they didn't need them.
Vail Christian's Ashlyn Gruber shredded the competition from 200 to 800 meters (see the 1A highlights video linked below). Gruber appears to get better the longer she goes, as her 59.45 (400) and 2:17.16 (800) times attest. Teammate Kylie Alexander won the pole vault with a very legitimate mark of 10-3, upping her winning mark from last year by a full 18 inches.
Where Gruber left off, Shining Mountain's Birdie Hutton (pictured, left) picked up. Hutton went unchallenged in winning the 1600 in 5:12.82 and the 3200 in 11:49.83. Hutton also finished second to Gruber in the 800.
Despite the boost provided by Hutton, Gruber, and Alexander, neither Vail Christian nor Shining Mountain was able to climb into the top three. Team positions two and three stayed with Elbert and Simla, though the schools did switch order this year.
Elbert got a first and a second out of hurdler Logan Franek, who traded wins with Danielle Rinaldo, but took disappointing second in the SMR8 to a late hard charge from Merino, losing their state and classification records in the process.
Simla piled up points all meet long in the relays, but never was able to open the floodgates to individual event points. Jessica George's second in the triple jump and Tanna Boyle's third in the 3200 were the top finishes the Cubs were able to put on the board.