LAKEWOOD — Ricardo Ocampo never makes a promise he can’t keep.
The Broomfield senior told Ethan Gonzales he would hand off the baton for the final leg of the 3,200 meter relay with the lead.
He did, and Gonzales brought the Eagles home.
The Broomfield team of Jake Morris, Jake Mitchem, Ricardo Ocampo and Ethan Gonzales bested their seed time by just over a second, winning the Class 4A state title with a time of 7 minutes, 55.49 seconds.
“Once I saw that we weren’t in the lead, I knew I was going to have to do something to help out my team,” said Ocampo, who was in fourth place when he got the stick from Mitchem.
Ocampo was behind the teams from Erie, Montrose and Durango when he took over, and by the time he was 300 meters into his leg he was in second.
“Ideally not where we wanted to be, but you have to go with what you’re given and make the best of what you’ve got,” said Ocampo who, along with Gonzales, was on the same relay last year that finished seventh. “I could tell that (Erie) was falling back a little bit and I knew in my head the promise I made to Ethan and I kept that in my head the whole race.”
Gonzales took over and instantly created some distance between himself and the field and forced whoever was going to try and reel him in to run a torrid pace.
Eventually Gonzales pulled away and finished four seconds ahead of the team from Eagle Valley.
“Everybody ran well and that is the key to the 4-by-800 and you have to have four good legs and one person doesn’t do anything,” Gonzales said.
When Gonzales was headed down the front straight-away the new video board at Jeffco Stadium didn’t have the race showing and, “I had to look back a few times to see if we were clear,” he said.
Gonzales, who will run next season at CU, credited his whole team for the overall improvement in the race.
“This go-round Ricardo had some training as evidenced by his seventh place finish in cross country. Jake Mitchem matured from his freshman year,” Gonzales said. “And Morris, we got him to come to the 800 from the 200 and the 400. The addition of those guys and Ricardo having a chance to develop made it work.”
The Broomfield girls 3,200 team entered the event seeded fourth, and even though the group bested its seed time by two seconds, the Eagles managed just an eighth-place finish in 9:44.55.
“It was my first time on the medal stand, so it was still pretty exciting either way,” said junior Regan Vandepol, who ran the lead leg. “We went in knowing who was going to be fast, and I just ran with the idea that I had to kick some butt.”
In the boys triple jump, Robert Carlson made it to the awards podium, finishing sixth with a jump of 44-feet.
It was his final jump that Carlson, a senior, might relive a few times in the next few days. Coming in seeded 13th, Carlson scratched by less than a half an inch on a jump that would have bested winner Peter Greco’s winning leap of 45-11.5.
“I passed seven other people, so that’s a good thing,” said Carlson, who will also compete in the long jump on Friday. “That last jump was probably my best jump and it didn’t count, and that’s the one thing you can’t really do anything about.”
Some preliminary runs of note on Thursday from Broomfield included Jordan Xiong in the 100 (second in 10.99) and 200 (third in 21.93); Alexei Cox in the 100 (second in 12.55) and 200 (fourth in 25.27), Grace Belton in the 200 (seventh in 25.64) and 400 (seventh in 58.42); and finally the Eagles’ 800 relay team earned the top seed with a run of 1:42.19.
Legacy’s Aaron Ragin was a half-second slower than his seed time in the 400, but his 49.16 was third-fastest in the preliminary heat.
In the afternoon session, Holy Family’s Tyler Dudden finished fifth in the discus with a personal best throw of 148-4.
Seeded ninth coming in, Dudden credits the atmosphere that is the state meet with his success on Thursday.
“It just finally clicked, all the practice throughout the week,” he said. “Being here just adds a different vibe from a regular meet.”
The Tigers sprinters had solid run in the prelims too. Ryan Willis (second in 11.36) and Ryan Younggreen (seventh in 11.32) both qualified for the finals in the 100. Shea Zeman did likewise on the girls side, qualifying fifth in 12.74.
Follow Jon on Twitter: twitter.com/JonEYunt