LAKEWOOD — The 2010 and 2011 seniors on the Fairview track team each left high school having competed for four different head coaches during their respective four-year careers.
As an assistant coach in 2010, Melissa Spencer could see some distrust in the athletes’ eyes as they wondered if their coaches would be around. She could see the same thing even when she took over the program as head coach herself last year.
But what a difference a slice of consistency can make.
In just Spencer’s second year as head coach, the Knight boys completed a monumental turnaround on Saturday at the state track and field championships. One year after placing 30th as a team with eight team points, the Knights racked up 53 points to take home the Class 5A state runner-up trophy.
“I think it makes a huge difference,” said FHS senior Andrew Cobb, who ran on a pair of top-six relays over the course of the three-day state meet at Jefferson County Stadium. “Finally we have a stable coaching staff and stable (athlete) base. I really think we’ll be a serious contender for years to come.”
Spencer, a recreational therapist by trade who pole vaulted in college at Brigham Young, hadn’t coached high school track before joining the FHS staff in 2010. But as head coach she’s quickly gotten her squad to buy in.
“Last year was kind of putting things together,” sophomore Sawyer Hammond said. “This year was putting it into action.”
Most notably, the sprinters, jumpers and middle distance runners sparked FHS’ runner-up ride.
Senior Ben Meyer, coming off of an injury-riddled junior season, went toe-to-toe with nationally ranked Raymond Bozmans from Fort Collins, finishing second to the Lambkin by narrow margins in both the 100 and 200.
Bozmans won the 100 in 10.51 seconds on a cold, rainy day less than ideal for fast times. He ran 21.42 in the 200. Meyer’s times were 10.60 and 21.56 respectively, and he even led Bozmans by a fraction coming out of the turn in the 200.
“It pushes you all the time,” Meyer said of Bozmans, who set the all-class state record in the 100 this season at 10.27. “You just want to get him, but he just gets you always at the end. … To race against that guy is great.”
Meyer wasn’t the only Knight to come through, though he did help the 800 relay team to a third-place finish on Friday.
Cobb, Hammond, Zane Jeffress and Rich Sanchez — all sophomores but Cobb — took sixth in the 1,600 relay Saturday. The Knights’ 3,200 relay was second on Thursday. Sanchez placed in both the mile and 800.
And sophomore Ryan Prinster placed fourth in the triple jump Saturday with a personal best leap of 44-9.25.
“In the rain today, people had PRs,” said Spencer, whose boys squad entered the state meet ranked sixth by Colorado Milesplit. “That they were able to have their best performances in those conditions is what helped us pull it out.”