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Track and field: Bergen, McCormick put on a show at Boulder County Championships

From left: Niwot High School's Zane ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
From left: Niwot High School’s Zane Bergen looks over his shoulder at Longmont High School’s Connor McCormick in the 1600 meter race at the Boulder County Invite at Broomfield High School on Saturday, April 16, 2022.

BROOMFIELD — Niwot’s Zane Bergen had a healthy lead through the first 1,200 meters of the one-mile run at the Boulder County Track Championships on Saturday afternoon, but Longmont’s Connor McCormick saw his opening on the final lap.

The Trojan senior phenom turned on the turbo jets as he inched closer and closer to Bergen through the final 250 meters on the track at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium. He eclipsed him in the last 100 and crossed the finish line for the photo finish, and with a new meet record of 4 minutes, 11.13 seconds to boot.

“I knew I had enough in the tank to make a push,” McCormick said. “I kind of feel bad sitting behind him the entire time and then pushing at the end, but sometimes that’s what you got to do if you want to beat a really tough competitor like him. I let him take it out for the entire race.”

Bergen returned the favor in the 800 later in the afternoon, as McCormick led for much of the race before the Niwot star burst past him in the final 150 or so meters. Coming into the meet, McCormick led the entire state of Colorado in the 800 with a 1:53.73 mark. Both boys beat that mark out in their mad dash to the finish on Saturday, as Bergen recorded a 1:52.90 and McCormick lagged just behind at 1:53.62.

That high level of competition is almost to be expected when a meet welcomes two of the best runners in the nation. Bergen is ranked fourth in the 3,200 and McCormick sits at 11th in the 800.

Said Bergen: “It was a little bit different mentality than the mile. We were trying to go after more of a time in the mile. It didn’t really turn out after I went out a little too hard and messed things up, but just kind of wanted to come back and get the legs moving. In that last race, I didn’t really have the kick that I wanted. I’m looking forward to racing Connor again. I love that man. We train together in the offseason, so it’s all good fun.”

Both boys beat the meet records in both events, earning them the co-MVP award for the meet.

Vaulting toward new heights

Before Saturday even rolled around, the BoCo meet was welcoming two of the top boys pole vaulters in the state with Mead’s Quin Dukes and Fairview’s Flynn Meier. Dukes boasted a 14-foot, 8-inch clearance, a height he hit just two weeks earlier at the Altitude Invitational in Brighton.

Saturday, he very nearly cleared 15 feet on his multiple attempts but topped out at 14-6 instead. Even though his vaults didn’t quite come together to hit that new high mark, he’s thrilled with the progress he’s been able to make in such a short time.

“Last year, I was still learning. A lot of things clicked,” Dukes said. “I got on bigger poles, I started running faster, developed my technique more and I’ve been able to jump much higher. Last year, I think my season-best was 13-7, so like a foot difference in a year. I have nothing but to keep improving.”

Monarch’s Rowan Tyler hit the second-highest mark of the day after clearing the 13-2 bar, which should put him into the top 10 rankings in the state.

Meier, too, didn’t quite hit his Colorado seventh-best mark of 13 feet, stopping just short at 12-8, but enjoyed the level of competition and the beautiful, Colorado spring weather. He tired out by the end of his run toward the bar but hopes he can start clearing heights above that 13-foot mark as the state meet approaches.

“I should have been able to jump 13-2 today. I’ve definitely cleared that in practice before, but it’s meet mentality, so I have to just figure it out,” Meier said. “I think (this meet) really fun. The better the people, the better I’ll jump. I’m friends with almost all of the other pole vaulters, so it’s kind of just getting together with my friends and going to jump.”

Racing toward the gold

Once Skyline’s Andrew Muncy figured out what held him back in his sprint events, he worked to iron out the wrinkles in his approach to the track. His efforts, which have included running a lot of 100-meter dashes, learning new skills and working on his blocks, have paid dividends through his senior season.

Prior to the BoCo meet, he boasted the top time in the state in the 400 as he and Castle View’s Ace Malone both tied at 49.05.

An illness prevented him from competing well in that race on Saturday, but he managed to pull out a win in the 200 with a 22.55 mark. He’s proud of the strides he’s made this season to achieve that low mark. He believes he can drop it even more if continues to finesse his technique.

“I think the biggest thing is finding out what you’re weak at,” Muncy said. “I realized that I have good speed endurance, but my top speed was really slow so I just started working on that and now I’ve gotten a lot better, I think. I started kind of slow, but now I’m getting into my own groove. My coach says I might hit high 47 (seconds) by the end of the year. I don’t know about that. I’m thinking probably mid-48s.”

He believes he’ll have to drop to 47 seconds if he wants to win state.

Winners of the meet:

100: Keiran Singh, Monarch (11.12)

200: Andrew Muncy, Skyline (22.55)

400: Levi Hoenninger, Monarch (50.11)

800: Zane Bergen, Niwot (1:52.90, meet record)

1,600: Connor McCormick, Longmont (4:11.13, meet record)

3,200: Andreas O’Malley, Longmont (9:53.61)

4×100 relay: Monarch (43.69)

4×200 relay: Monarch (1:30.63)

4×400 relay: Niwot (3:25.81)

4×800 relay: Fairview (8:26.71)

110 hurdles: Josh Dunn, Broomfield (15.18)

300 hurdles: Nick Stade, Niwot (40.04)

High jump: Aidan Miller, Silver Creek (6-0.50)

Long jump: Levi Hoenninger, Monarch (20-7.50)

Triple jump: Caleb Johnson, Longmont (45-7)

Discus: John Pastore, Erie (142-7)

Shot put: John Pastore, Erie (47-11)

Pole vault: Quin Dukes, Mead (14-6)

Top three teams: Niwot (108.66 points), Erie (88 points), Longmont (79 points).

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