LAKEWOOD — As a freshman, Monarch's Max Manson is not nearly as experienced in high school track and field as the state's other top pole vaulters.
Manson's got great genes and exceptional coaching that others don't have, however.
Competing in a field loaded with juniors and seniors, Manson finished second in the 5A boys pole vault at the state meet on Thursday at Jefferson County Stadium. He set a personal record with a vault of 15 feet, 7 inches, coming up just three inches behind the winner, senior Connor Roberts from Cherry Creek.
"I'm happy I even made state at first, and it was fun," Manson said.
Manson's father, Pat, is a legendary vaulter who has coached numerous high school athletes in the area over the years. Pat was a seven-time NCAA All-American, three-time Pan American Games gold medalist and still holds the Colorado state prep record, vaulting 17-7.5 in 1986 when he attended Aurora Central High School.
"That's pretty much my biggest goal," Manson said of his father's record.
Manson has been vaulting for as long as he can remember, but said, "I never really got into it seriously, where I was doing regular practices, until about a year or so ago."
His father laid the foundation, but Manson is also being coached by Mike Tully, two was a two-time Olympian in the pole vault, earning the silver medal in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
"It's helped so much," Manson said. "Having two that used to be the best in the world is just awesome. It's great to have them."
Manson's sophomore teammate, Cole Rowan, was fourth on Thursday, while Fairview's Eli Chance was seventh.
Peak to Peak races away in relay
From the start of the 3A girls 3,200-meter relay to its end, the Peak to Peak relay team was in complete control.
Of course when a handful of the classification's top distance runners form a group, it should never be much of a surprise when the sum of their considerable individual talents is too much for other teams to handle.
Peak to Peak's Anna Shults, Alice Oveson, Christina Hamerly and Quinn McConnell, all of whom contributed to the Pumas second-place cross country finish in the fall, finished the race in 9 minutes, 47.71 seconds. McConnell, the team's anchor, cross the finish line nearly 12 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher to claim the 3A 3,200-meter relay state title in dominant fashion.
Later in the evening, Shults, who is still just a freshman, placed second in the 3A girls 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:25.16.
The Fairview girls had a season-best time in the 5A 3,200-meter relay, finishing in 9 minutes, 25.23 seconds to place second. Cherry Creek was first, in 9:23.64.
"We were seeded fourth and we really wanted to get in the top three, so we knew we would need to push ourselves," junior Hannah Freeman said.
Freeman teamed with junior Sarah King, senior Tatjana Klonz and freshman Marlena Preigh and she's excited that three of the four will be back next year.
"I think we have a lot of potential to make this team really great next year, so I'm excited about that," she said.
Niwot's strong start
Seeking a fourth consecutive team title in Class 4A, the Niwot girls got off to a good start on Thursday.
The Cougars' 3,200-meter relay team, which came in seeded ninth, finished second. They clocked in at 9:32.85 to pick up eight valuable team points.
In the triple jump, junior Alexis Carroll finished seventh, with a jump of 34 feet, 11.5 inches.
Longmont senior Sydney Wetterstrom had a busy morning on Thursday.
A Michigan-bound volleyball player, Wetterstrom started her day by placing fourth in the girls triple jump.
She missed an opportunity to stand on the podium, however, because as soon as the triple jump was over, she had to compete in the high jump and shot put, which started at the same time. She was 13th in both events.
Thimsen takes the podium
Jefferson Academy junior Tyler Thimsen was one of many in attendance who witnessed Lutheran senior Kharon Hall set a meet record of 46-02.25 in the 3A boys triple jump on Thursday.
But thanks to his own ability, Thimsen had a closer seat than most.
By the end of the triple jump finals, Thimsen had out-jumped his seed distance by an inch and a half and claimed third place, which landed him right up on the podium next to Hall.
Thimsen's third-place finish is the best-ever by a Jaguars athlete at state.
Plenty of time for Shining Mountain to shine
Shining Mountain Waldorf's Emma Schaefer and Abby Leuchten finished third and fifth, respectively, in the 1A girls 3,200-meter run.
Placing two runners in the top five is pretty good for any team. Throw in the fact that Schaefer is a sophomore and Leuchten is a freshman, and the Lions must be pretty excited about their distance running future.
In the 1A girls pole vault, Lions sophomore Marina Flandrick (8-01) and freshman Amrita Shore (7-07) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Brie Oakley of Grandview won the 5A girls 3,200 meters with a time of 10:33.16. That broke the 5A state meet record previously held by Boulder's Melody Fairchild. In 1990, Fairchild finished in 10:34.09.
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