LAKEWOOD — The Lyons boys set their sights on the state title and a school record in the 3,200-meter relay at the beginning of the season and everything seemed to come together for the Lions to accomplish their goals.
One of their top relay runners, Field Soosloff, was injured for most of the season and they got him back in time to run their stacked relay lineup at the Colorado track and field state championships on Thursday. As the sixth seeded squad going into the state finals, the Lyons also knew they were up against a talented Burlington team but they had a plan and executed it expertly.
Back at full strength and extremely well-prepared, the Lions' won the 2A 3,200-meter state championship with a time of 8 minutes, 12.75 seconds, and broke the previous Lyons High School record by three seconds. It was junior Colton Jonjak-Plahn who executed the critical piece of the Lions' strategy when Burlington took the lead late in the final lap of the race.
"We actually had a really specific plan," Jonjak-Plahn said. "We thought they were going to run it that way so we had the third guy, Isaac, get us in first and I was just trying to run a flat 60. We thought he would try to get me, which he did with about 300 meters left, so I just rode him for a bit and I knew he was going to be dead because he ran like a 56, 57, something like that. Then I just burned him the last bit. I visualized that a lot so I was really excited when it worked."
Jonjak-Plahn said the Lions may have been seeded a bit lower than they could have been since they hadn't run Thursday's lineup - Field Soosloff, Adam Crowl, Isaac Roberts and Jonjak-Plahn - all season long.
"We had some injuries and we were looking for that fourth guy all season," Jonjak-Plahn said. "We thought we would do well once we had this group together but we went past that and we did awesome."
Breaking seed and winning the 3,200-meter relay title also earned the Lyons an important eight team points. With the boys team hoping to edge Resurrection Christian for the team championship, those points could prove to be a difference-maker. The Lions finished Day 1 in a three-way tie with Crowley County and Mancos for third place with 12 points with three events scored. Resurrection Christian was in second place with 13 points and Ellicott was in the lead with 18.
"I think winning that event made people feel really good that we can do this," Jonjak-Plahn said. "It's still close so obviously any points we can score are going to help so it's awesome."
Shining Mountain's Schaefer defends 3,200 title, Flandrick wins pole vault
Shining Mountain senior Emma Schaefer had Birdie Hutton, one of her school's most distinguished track alumni, on her mind going into the 1A girls 3,200-meter race on Thursday.
Already the defending state champion, Schaefer wanted to break Hutton's 1A state meet record of 11:49.83. She didn't get the record, but Schaefer easily won her second state title in the event when she finished in 12:11.83, over 15 seconds faster than the runner-up. Freshman teammate Olivia Jabari took third with a time of 12:43.21 and Lions junior Abby Leuchten placed fifth with a time of 13:07.52.
"I was wanting to go for the record and I'm glad I did," Schaefer said. "I definitely started off too fast and I realized that I wasn't going to get the record when the second mile started. I really tried to keep my head in the race and pushing through. It was great having my teammates in the race with me and they did really well. I didn't race as well as I wanted but overcoming not super great races is something you can grow from and I'm looking forward to my other races."
Schaefer will run the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter relay this weekend with a good chance to add more gold medals to her growing collection. She won the 1,600 last season.
In the 1A girls pole vault, Shining Mountain junior Marina Flandrick won the championship by clearing 9 feet, 10 inches. She was runner-up in the event last season.
With just 3 events scored, the Lions girls also led the team scoring with 38 points after Day 1.
More of the usual from Peak to Peak's distance relay
At the state championships last season, the Peak to Peak girls 3,200-meter relay set a 3A state meet record with a blistering time of 9:12.44.
In their title defense, the Pumas didn't set the track on fire like they did last spring but this year's relay group of Tiana Bradfield, Jenna Howard, Quinn McConnell and Anna Shults convincingly won the race with a time of 9:20.84 on Thursday. It was the fourth straight 3,200-meter relay state title for the Pumas.
McConnell, a junior and two-time cross country champion who is favored to win the 1,600 on Saturday, placed fourth in the 3,200 with a time of 11:39.83.
School records fall at Jefferson Academy
Not only did the Jefferson Academy Jaguars leave Jefferson County Stadium with a slew of top-five finishes on Thursday, the Jaguars also knocked off a pair of school records.
In the 3A girls 800-meter relay preliminaries, the Jaguars qualified for Friday's finals with a school record time of 1:48.06. In the 3A boys triple jump, Zace Buckhold placed with a school record mark of 43 feet, 8.5 inches.
Nederland distance girls off to good start
After winning the 2A girls cross country state title in October, it was no surprise to see the Nederland Panthers well-represented in the top eight seeds of the distance events on the state track heat sheets.
On Thursday, the Panthers got off to a good start with their 3,200-meter relay team - Sarah Davidson, Meg Feeley, Alex Sorokach and Helen Cross - placing fifth in 10:24.30.
Holy Family shows well in both 4x800 finals
In both the boys and girls 3,200-meter relays on Thursday, Holy Family finished in the top five.
The Tigers boys - Rasce Engelhardt, Christian Montoya, Kyle McCabe and Braden Bartlett - placed third with a time of 8:07.09. On the girls side, the Tigers - Taylor Santangelo, Ashley Darrah, Alyssa Wells and Payton Corah - finished fifth in 9:44.52.