LAKEWOOD – At least in recent memory, there hasn’t been a dominant trio of Class 3A distance runners quite like the group that has come through Peak to Peak Charter School over the past four years.
Between them, the group of current seniors Quinn McConnell, Anna Shults and Tiana Bradfield has combined for eight individual or relay titles in track and field. In cross country, they have teamed up to win two team titles and two individual titles.
At the track and field state championships on Saturday, the Pumas trio competed in the final event of their collective prep career. McConnell, Bradfield and Shults placed third, fifth and sixth, respectively. It may not have been the overwhelmingly successful finish the three runners have become accustomed to, but it was more important to all of them to circle the track at Jefferson County Stadium in formation for one final time.
“It was really exciting and emotional,” McConnell said. “We’ve been together since sixth grade so seven years of running with them right by my side has been a blessing. It hasn’t really sunk in that it’s over but I’m just forever grateful for the seven years that we’ve had together.”
At this year’s state meet, McConnell, Shults, Bradfield, and fellow senior Jenna Howard won the 3A 3,200-meter relay on Thursday to extend the Pumas’ streak of state titles in the event to an incredible six straight years. They still hold the 3A state meet record in the event – a time of 9 minutes, 12.44 seconds the Pumas set in 2017.
McConnell, Shults, Bradfield and Howard even graduated together as a group, all taking place in a special graduation ceremony on the infield at Jeffco Stadium on Saturday for athletes who decided to forgo their school’s ceremony to compete at the state championships. With this group exiting after four years of extreme highs and devastating lows, even head coach Kim McConnell is retiring after this season.
Next year, McConnell will run at Furman University in South Carolina, Bradfield is going to Northern Arizona and Shults is headed to Colorado. Wherever their promising track and field careers take them, the Pumas core trio of the past four years will forever be bonded by the experiences they shared while with “PEAK” stretched across their chests.
“This was special because it was the last time were going to be in the same uniform and running together, and we’re a family,” Bradfield said. “We wanted to stick as a pack and run with all of our hearts, like we have for four years. We always talk about how weird it’s going to be next year to see each other at races, racing together but not in the same uniform.
“We’ve experienced so much together, so much joy and so much loss, everything. Because of that we’re are so strong and we have a bond that will forever hold us together no matter where we are.”
Also in Saturday’s 3A 1,600, Pumas sophomore Allison Beasley placed 10th and Howard placed 15th. In the boys 1,600, Pumas junior Alex Ledden placed 10th and Ethan Monarski placed 15th.
Holiday shines for Eagles
Broomfield’s Sydney Holiday capped her first year in Colorado with a trio of second-place finishes.
After finishing second in the Class 5A girls long jump on Friday, Holiday was runner-up in the 100 meters and 200 meters on Saturday. She finished behind Colorado prep legend Arria Minor of Denver East in both races.
“It was really good to race Arria, because she’s able to push us all to really fast times,” said Holiday, who had personal-bests of 11.6 seconds (100) and 24.04 (200) in the finals.
Holiday competed for Ten Sleep High School in Wyoming the previous two years, winning six state titles in the state’s smallest classification. She won four titles a year ago.
Her father’s job transfer brought her to Broomfield, and Holiday said that while she’s still adjusting, she enjoyed her first season in Colorado.
“I thought it was really fun, because it was a lot better competition than Wyoming, and it got me more excited to race against better girls,” she said.
Also for the Broomfield girls, Nikki Gorman added a sixth-place finish in the 300 hurdles and Joy Fifita was sixth in the discus.
Hitchcock caps career
Longmont’s Tara Hitchcock won a pair of medals on Saturday to complete a sensational weekend.
The senior, who won the 4A title in the girls long jump on Thursday, placed fourth in the 300 hurdles and fifth in the 100 hurdles on Saturday. This was Hitchcock’s third year at state, but the first time she has won medals.
“I had so much fun,” said Hitchcock, who will compete at Belmont University in Nashville next year. “It was just awesome to be able to be here and be able to really compete this last day with the finals in the 100s and 300s. It was just a lot of fun.”
Longmont also had a big day in the boys triple jump.
Senior Will Murphy finished second with a leap of 45 feet, 5 inches, while junior Jack Shew was third with a leap of 45 feet, 1.5 inches. It was the first time either had ever topped the 45-foot mark.
Senior David Hernandez had a personal-best, as well, with a leap of 43-9 that placed him in seventh. He came in seeded 18th.
Centaurus’ Sagrillo finishes strong
Centaurus senior Charley Sagrillo picked the best time possible to put it all together in a 110-meter hurdles run and it earned him a personal-best time of 14.82 seconds and a runner-up finish in the 4A state finals.
“I’ve kind of lacked in the start department and I tend to attack more in the last half, but I had one of my best overall races today,” Sagrillo said. “My goal for the season was to get under 15 and I got that today so I’m happy with that.”
Also for Centaurus, junior Cassidy Cheesman placed third in the 4A girls triple jump with a mark of 37 feet, 7.25 inches and the Warriors’ girls 400-meter relay team placed seventh with a time of 49.96 seconds.
Skyline sets relay record
The Skyline boys set a school record in the 400-meter relay, placing second with a time of 42.54 seconds. The team of Andrew Brown, Jack Wathen, Creighton Trembly and Kyle West nearly won the state title, but Pueblo East had a blistering anchor leg and beat the Falcons at the finish, clocking in at 42.40.
Earlier in the day, Brown, a senior, placed third in the 100 meters, while Trembly, a junior, was third in the 110 hurdles.
Skyline closed the day with a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 relay. The team of Brown, Andrew Muncy, Matthew King and Wathen clocked in at 3:25.75, just shy of the school record they set in Friday’s prelims (3:25.62).
Chacon medals for Warriors
Ryan Chacon didn’t have the day he wanted on Saturday for Frederick, but the sophomore capped his breakout season with a pair of medals, placing eighth in the 400 meters and ninth in the 200.
“It’s just an unbelievable thing that I can achieve,” Chacon said. “Last year, I was in the average areas of my 400 and 200. I’ve matured over the year and I’ve strived for it and it feels good. I’ve already been thinking about next year. I’ve already dropped so many seconds off my 400 and 200; how many more can I get down?”
Also for Frederick, senior Michela Hewitt, who will compete for UC-Colorado Springs next year, was eighth n the girls 400.
Monarch’s Luke Johnson placed eighth in the 5A boys 1,600 meters. The Coyotes added a fifth-place finish in the girls 1,600 relay. … Erie senior Teagan Brand teamed with sophomore Isabelle Hageman and freshmen Lily Meskers and Ashlee Lovett to lead the Tigers to a fourth-place finish in the 4A girls 1,600 relay. … Jefferson Academy senior Rebecka Ballard placed second in the 3A girls 100 meters and seventh in the 200. Also for the Jaguars, Aaliyah Robinson was ninth in the girls triple jump, Zace Buckhold was sixth in the boys high jump, Jonathan Malavasi seventh in the boys 400 and the boys 1,600 relay team finished fourth. … Helen Cross of Nederland finished fourth in the 2A girls 1,600 meters. … Shining Mountain won a trio of medals in Class 1A: Max Saliman was third in the boys 1,600 and Ethan Pineda eighth in the boys pole vault, while Bodhi Mills was eighth in the girls 1,600. … Holy Family’s Christian Montoya was sixth in the 3A boys 1,600 meters. The Tigers’ girls placed seventh in the 400 relay and ninth in the 1,600 relay.