Although Chyna Ries was faster out of the blocks, Alleandra Watt was faster at the finish. Photos by Alan Versaw.
It was, by far, the biggest and best indoor meet of the season to date. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Mile-Hi Classic at the Air Force Academy's Cadet Field House failed to disappoint on any number of fronts. But, nowhere was the meet more compelling that in the girls sprints.
In the 60 meter dash midway through the afternoon, Alleandra Watt and Chyna Ries breezed through prelims, setting up their positions in lanes four and five for the finals showdown. Not a soul in the Cadet Field House needed a program. Everyone knew who was in lanes four and five, though the meet announcer was good enough to remind everyone of what was coming.
Chyna Ries gained a sizeable upper hand out of the blocks and appeared well on her way to taking round one of what gives every appearance of being a long series of showdowns coming. Alleandra Watt, however, has the kind of turnover you dare not count out until the Finish Lynx camera tells its story.
And, so it was this time. Watt surged, and Ries had no more gears. Watt finished the 60 in 7.51 and in first place.
A couple of hours later, Watt matched up with Dior Hall in the top heat of the 200. Leaving the rest of their heat in disarray, Hall turned the corner with 50 meters to go holding two strides of lead over Watt. When the lanes straightened, however, Watt rose up tall on her lean frame and simply blew by Hall for the win, 24.33 to 24.72--and those times were on an indoor track (albeit an oversized one), ladies and gentlemen. The 24.33 places Watt atop the national 200 meter rankings for the time being.
Two races, two emphatic victories, and Watt is arguably still a bit rusty. This was, after all, her first track meet of the season. It's a little scary to think what it might look like when the rust wears away and gives way once again to a well-oiled machine.
But Alleandra Watt wasn't the only one lighting up the track.
For Mackenzie Howie, there's no place like running close to home. The Doherty sophomore took home a win over Payton Miller, 57.42 to 58.32, in the 400 meters. Devan Foster held off Alaina Anderson and a whole slew of Anderson Ric Rojas teammates to win the 800 in 2:21.93. Heather Bates cleaned out the 1600 field in 5:14.66. Dior Hall went 8.35 in the 60 hurdles for her best time yet for the season.
In field events, Chyna Ries went an even 19-0 for the win. Lindsey Read edged Chyna's younger sister Maya in the triple jump, 37-9.25 to 37-3.75. Chloe Rogers was also out beyond 36 feet in the triple. Sand Creek's Mariah Walker went big in the shot put, heaving the modified cannon ball 42-4.75 for the win.
And that was just the girls.
There's a new name to learn on the boys side. That would be Greg Popylisen. And you'd better learn to say it fast, because it only takes him 6.87 to finish 60 meters out of a block start. Here's a photo to help you fix the memory in your mind (that would be Matthew Hughes pulling up lame on the left, and Jaylyn Mars and Troy Johnson riding his wake on the right) :
The 200 meter finish was a spectacle as well. In this case, Zac McCoy edged Casey Lewis and Noah Gabel with a 22.37. Dueth Vassell won the 400 an a January-impressive kind of time of 51.09. Daniel Lara added his familiar name to the top of the 800 meter results with a 1:59.22.
The mile ended up being a very different race than all of us watching thought it was going to be. Cerake Geberkidane stepped to the line and cast his familiar shadow over the event. Even Geberkidane's shadow had trouble keeping up through the first half of the race. Geberkidane split the half at 2:08/2:09 and the rest of the field was about a half a straightaway back. Well, those who were making any pretense of staying in the race were at least that far back; the rest were still back on the turn.
But, Geberkidane's reach exceeded his grasp on this day. The last lap was unkind to him. Sensing the opportunity, Zach Kuzma and Danny Vavrik gave chase. Coming off the final turn, Kuzma had taken the lead and strided down the finish straight with the familiar eyes-as-big-as-saucers look on his face. It's not every day you get a chance to take down a target as big as Geberkidane in the mile, and none of that bigness seemed lost on Kuzma, who would win in 4:42.78.
Alec Willard, already among the national leaders in the 60 hurdles, took his season-best time in that event down to 8.15. Donya' Green went 6-8 easily in the high jump. Somewhere, Jay Peltier has to be smiling about the Vista Ridge prospects for this spring.
Steve Duncan gained a little recognition for himself winning the high school portion of the pole vault competition at 14-5.25. There is clearly some magic to be found at the Air Force Academy pole vault pits.
Lorne Jenkins seems to be getting quite at home at 22+ in the long jump. It was good enough for a win this week, too.
In my mind, that's a lot of extraordinary for one meet. With results like that coming off of the Air Force Academy oval, there are a lot of Colorado folks who will be thinking a little harder about leaving the state for a trip to Pocatello, Idaho, on President's Day weekend.
Photos & Results