Back in 2008 when the Colorado track and field state championships was a two-day event, the Longmont boys team substituted Josh Ehrmantraut into its 1,600-meter relay lineup for the prelims to rest star sprinter Matt Butcher’s legs for the rest of the meet.
The Trojans reinserted Butcher for the finals and he anchored the relay group to a victory that helped the Longmont boys win the Class 4A team championship. That team title was the breakthrough moments that established dynastic run from 2008 to 2012 during which the Trojans won three state titles in five seasons and never finished lower than fourth.
The fact that Butcher gave up his gold medal to Ehrmantraut for helping the team accomplish its goal, however, was a symbol of the culture the program had developed that was the principle driver for the Trojans’ reign.
“We had quite a run,” then-head coach Tim McIntire said. “There were about seven years there when we had a chance to win it and we were in the hunt every year. We had great kids that came in and bought into the program, and they wanted to be the best they could be. We also had about nine or ten assistant coaches during that time who were also really good coaches. We just had a community of phenomenal people that made the program what it was.”
Though the Longmont girls team has never won a team title, McIntire said Longmont track program’s championship culture started to change with a group of seven female athletes who called themselves the “Fly Girls” in the mid-90’s and were willing to work and sacrifice to set a new standard. That desire to be the best eventually spread and caught on with the boys’ program, which started to emerge as a title contender around 2005.
When the Trojans boys won in 2008, it was Longmont’s first team title in 58 years.
The Longmont boys placed fourth in 2009 before reclaiming the team title in 2010. They finished runners-up in 2011 and left Jefferson County Stadium with the 4A team trophy again in 2012.
In 2000 when McIntire took over as head coach, Longmont High’s enrollment was much higher than it is today and the Trojans were in Class 5A. When Silver Creek opened, the Longmont’s athletic programs dropped down to 4A but McIntire and the track team chose to stay in Longmont track chose to remain in 5A.
The difference between 5A and 4A was more significant then and had they dropped down to 4A earlier, McIntire said he believes the Trojans could have won another state title or two prior to their run. But it was that desire to continue competing at the state’s highest level that also helped set the stage for their later championships.
“My thought process was just to beat the best we can be wherever we can be,” McIntire said.
Once the Trojans boys started winning championships, the program was known throughout its run for being a very technical, power-oriented program that was dominated by sprinters, jumpers and throwers and won with its incredible depth. It produced elite athletes like Butcher, who won three individual state titles and went on to run at the University of Oregon. It also produced other top athletes like Beau Brittenham, Josh Cogdill, Aaron Praska, Braden Hitchcock, Steven Wacker and Tevan McIntire, whose fondest memory from the state meet was pausing during the 2008 triple jump finals to admire Butcher as he won the 200-meter title by about 10 meters, slowing down as he crossed the finish line to save energy for the rest of his events.
“It was a culture that was cultivated over the years,” McIntire said. “Obviously, we were extremely talented but a lot of our success was from the expectation that was set by the coaching staff and the leadership of the older athletes. There was an expectation of always bringing it and everybody always brought it in practice, consistently and every day. You were expected to be at your best and we were.”
Butcher, who still holds several school records, remembers how often he would hear to school or meet records announced over stadium loud speakers while the Trojans were competing. He also remembers not thinking about himself at the state meet and focusing on scoring points to help the team accomplish its collective goal.
“It’s nostalgic to think back on it,” Butcher said. “It’s not just a coincidence that a bunch of great athletes showed up at once. It’s like the old saying that it’s easier to start a forest fire when you have a small fire started already. There was a great group of guys and girls who laid the groundwork for us. We had a unique group that saw what was happening and really wanted to put the work in and take it to the next level.”
When the Longmont team started raising its level, it also raised the level of competition in the northern area and helped produce the St. Vrain Invitational, which has grown into one of the premier meets in the state. The years between 2008 and 2012 were a golden era in Longmont track and field history that has not been matched by any big-school boys program in the BoCoPreps.com area since.
Details of the Dynasty: Longmont boys track & field
Coach: Tim McIntire
Dynasty years: Between 2008 and 2012 under McIntire, the Trojans won three Class 4A state championships in five years. They also finished fourth in the 2009 team competition and were runners-up in 2011.
Major players: Beau Brittenham (two-time medalist); Matt Butcher (three-time individual champion, nine-time medalist); Josh Cogdill (eight-time medalist); Braden Hitchcock (seven-time medalist); Tevan McIntire (three-time medalist); Aaron Praska (six-time medalist); Steven Wacker (two-time individual champion).
Most dominant moment: The Trojans’ widest margin of victory at the state championships was their first. In 2008, the Longmont boys won the team title with a total of 78 points, besting the next closest team in Sierra by 10 team points.