Track and field: Jonjak-Plahn ready to be ‘The Man’ for Lyons

Senior wins MHL high jump at Friday’s Tri-League Championships

Brad Cochi/
Lyons’ Colton Jonjak-Plahn competes in the high jump at the Tri-League Championships Friday at Everly-Montgomery Field in Longmont.

LONGMONT – While he prepares to explode over a high-jump bar or out of the blocks for a 400-meter dash, Colton Jonjak-Plahn listens to meditation music to center himself.

The Lyons senior has a lot on his plate, and even more on his mind.

Jonjak-Plahn is first and foremost a scholar, and will study aerospace engineering at Stanford University next year. He is an active member of the community at Lyons Senior/Middle, a magnetic and selfless leader in everything from student government to theater. Jonjak-Plahn is also a three-sport athlete, a standout on the Lyons basketball, cross country and track teams.

As overextended as he seems to be, it’s a wonder Jonjak-Plahn doesn’t fall asleep on the infield while listening to his calming music and miss an event or two. And while he has many interests, Jonjak-Plahn’s focus is currently zeroing in on Colorado’s impending track and field state championships, which take place at Jefferson County Stadium on May 16-18.

That’s welcome news for Lyons, one of the perennial contenders in Class 2A. Jonjak-Plahn is, after all, the latest in a long line of top-tier athletes to grace the halls at Lyons and is also the Lions’ best hope for winning a team championship.

“I really just try to stay calm through it all,” Jonjak-Plahn said. “I know I have to have that duty but it’s something that I’m excited to do. It doesn’t really scare me. It’s more encouraging than anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, encourage my teammates and just enjoy my senior year.

“I’ve had so many incredible leaders to learn from that this year it’s been easier for me to take a big step forward in terms of understanding how races work and how to control my body. Having the pressure of being in the last heat, it’s been really fun because you’re competing against other people who are in the exact same position at their schools and we’re all just giving it our all to represent our teams the best we can.”

Though he has a number of relay medals hanging in his room at home, Jonjak-Plahn is still chasing his first state championship in an individual event. When it’s all said and done, he may end up with more than one.

More importantly for the Lyons boys track team, which finished runner-up last spring, the Lions will be relying on him to be a big point-scorer as they compete for a team title this spring. That is where Jonjak-Plahn’s true value to the Lions’ team effort lies: his ability to compete, and compete to win, in multiple events.

Jonjak-Plahn will probably run the 400- and 800-meter races at state, and should anchor the Lions’ 3,200-meter relay. Based on how things are shaking out in an expected team scoring battle with Hoehne, Jonjak-Plahn’s fourth event could either be the high jump, in which he claimed the Mile High League title by clearing 5 feet, 11 inches at Longmont High on Friday, or the 1,600.

“He’ll do whatever is best for the team and he’s already made that perfectly clear,” Lyons head coach Mark Roberts said. “He’s talented, he’s kind, he’s hardworking, he’s a great leader. He’s involved in literally everything at school and he does a lot of things with the district. He’s the consummate student-athlete.

“People see all of that, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What I see is a kid who came in as a scrawny little freshman and ran on a state-championship cross country team, and is just a tremendous competitor whenever we ask him to do anything. Obviously, he’s one of our key athletes. But he’s also just an excellent young man all across the board.”

Despite the Lions track program’s ability to annually produce some of the top track and cross country athletes in Colorado each and every year, that type of effusive praise from Roberts has typically been reserved for state-record caliber Lions like Paul Roberts, Forrest Donnell and Ryan Boucher. But Jonjak-Plahn, who is ranked among the top athletes in his classification in all of his events, has reached that echelon and Mark Roberts is expecting him to make that clear to everyone watching when the senior steps onto Colorado’s biggest stage for the last time.

“If Colton tells you he’s going to do something, it’s going to be done excellently,” Roberts said. “So I don’t know when he sleeps, but he must be getting some sleep based on the way he’s performing athletically. It’s going to be very exciting to see what he does at state in a couple weeks.”