Track & field: Fairview’s Marlena Preigh defends 800-meter title

Knights senior holds off late surge from Grandview’s Lily Williams to claim second state title

Lewis Geyer/Staff Photographer
Fairview’s Marlena Preigh cruises to a first place finish in the 800 meter run during the state track meet May 17, 2019 at Jeffco Stadium.
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LAKEWOOD – Fairview’s Marlena Preigh equates the level of exhaustion she experiences following an 800-meter race to a nearly supernatural experience.

“The 800 sucks the soul right out of my body,” said Preigh, who loves the event but often requires upwards of 20 minutes before regaining some normalcy each time she runs it.

Well, for Knights senior at least, giving her all to such a degree usually comes with a reward attached. It was, after all, an all-out effort in last year’s Class 5A state championship girls 800-meter race that delivered Preigh her first state title.

Entering this spring’s championship race as the No. 1 seed, Preigh successfully defended her title by winning with a time of 2 minutes, 8.55 seconds. Chasing a state record and with Grandview’s Lily Williams hot her tail down the stretch, Preigh was forced to empty the tank yet again in order to stay on top.

“I was really happy to win state against because even coming in as the number one seed, that’s not something you can just take as a given,” Preigh said. “It’s still state and there are still a lot of really talented girls. I heard people shouting so I wasn’t sure what it meant so I just made sure to finish strong and shut it down.”

Having shined at the national level since winning her first state title in 2018, Preigh said she came into the state meet with her sights set on the state record of 2:04.56 set by Cherry Creek graduate Jordyn Colter in 2015. But Preigh knew early on that the record was out of reach when she exited the first 400 meters several seconds off the pace.

Coming around the final turn, Williams, who shaved six seconds off her seed time and began gaining ground on Preigh coming around the final turn. But as Williams closed in with 50 meter to go, the two-time champ kicked one final time and pulled away for the win.

“The race didn’t really go according to plan,” Preigh said. “But I’m still super happy to repeat as state champion.”

Preigh is also a two-time defending 800-meter champion at the high-caliber indoor Simplot Games, and set a Simplot Games meet record of 2:06.80 this February. Still with one event left to run at the Colorado state championship, she is seeded third in Saturday’s 1,600-meter run.