LONGMONT — Sprinter Alex Mead has been dominant in his classification for the past two seasons. Mead High School’s move up to Class 4A in 2013, however, could make adding to his medal collection in his final state track meet his toughest challenge do date.
After winning back-to-back Class 3A state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the Mavericks senior faces a tougher 4A field this weekend.
“We moved up to 4A this year so I have to prove that I’m not a small-town 3A runner, that I can compete with the bigger schools,” Mead said. “I’ll be looking to throw down times that can compete on the national scale.”
In the 200, his best event, Mead’s time of 21.55 seconds from the St. Vrain Invitational on May 3 is still the fastest time in the state in any classification. Castle View’s Tanner Townsend is second with a 21.61. Cherokee Trail’s Jayly’n Mars in third with a 21.72. And Valor Christian’s Greg Popylisen will be Mead’s top 4A competition with a 21.77.
In the 100, though, Mead enters the state meet with the third best qualifying time of 10.71 seconds. Class 4A Falcon’s Kalen Ballage owns the fastest time with a 10.64, while Townsend, who will run in the 5A race, is second with a 10.65.
Mead won’t avoid the Jefferson County Stadium’s attention. But he welcomes the challenge of not entering as the heavy favorite, at least not in the 100.
“I like it. It’s a bullseye on his back, not mine,” Mead said. “Everyone’s expecting him to win. I’d much prefer it that way than have all eyes on me. I’ve always ran better with competition because you have to push yourself versus running against a time.”
Mead entered last year’s state meet ranked second behind Berthoud’s Troy Johnson. He ended up setting 3A state meet records in the 100 (10.62 seconds) and the 200 (21.66).
The Mavericks’ 400-meter relay team also set a 3A state meet record of 42.62 in 2012. With a new-look team this year, the relay will chase its time from last season. But the Mavericks will do it without Logan Anderson, who went down with a knee injury earlier this season.
Excluding Mead, all three Mavericks runners will be making their first appearance in the 400-meter relay at state.
“This year’s relay is a little different because we range from upperclassmen all the way to freshman,” said sophomore Patch Parker, who was an alternate on last year’s state relay team. “For now, the goal is to make it to finals. We’re putting a lot of work in on handoffs and making sure my start in as perfect as we can get it.”
First-year head coach Chris Reynolds said coaching Alex Mead, who knows his way around the track and does a lot of his training with club teams and on his own, has made things easier for him.
“It’s a great experience for all of our sprinters to be able to see somebody who is that high in their event,” Reynolds said. “You get that once every 20 years, maybe. It gives them a lot to aspire to.”
Mead will highlight a 100 field loaded with local 4A runners, including Silver Creek’s Ben Wood, Erie’s Kevin McClanahan and Broomfield’s Jordan Xiong, the latter two of whom also qualified in the 200.
Mead will be running the 4A race, but he said he’s looking to run the fastest time in any classification at state. If he really gets moving, the Mavericks senior also has an outside shot at the 4A state meet record of 21.10 in the 200 set by Corky Stark in 1998.
“The 200 is my event. That’s the one I’ll really keep focusing on this summer,” Mead said. “There are a couple national teams I’m trying to qualify for in the 200. Obviously, I’ll run them both hard but the 200 would mean a lot more to break a record in or win.”
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