Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT — Longmont’s Connor McCormick and Niwot’s Zane Bergen may be the sitcom pairing you never knew you needed.
The state’s fastest milers are also among the smartest high schoolers you’ll ever meet, with McCormick going out east to Princeton, Bergen west to Stanford.
They’re running buddies during the offseason, competing on the same club, REAL Training Colorado. Some long runs, they’ve been known to discuss things of common interest … like Quantum Physics.
“We’re super good friends, he’s a great competitor,” McCormick smiled when talking of Bergen. “Love that dude.”
Now he hopes to beat him.
In two weeks, the speedy brainiacs will go head-to-head at the state track and field meet as part of one of the most decorated distance classes in Colorado history. Friday was a prelude.
As a wave of warm temperatures scrolled across Everly-Montgomery Field for the first day of a three-league meet, McCormick won the Northern Colorado Athletic Conference 1,600-meter run in a time of 4 minutes, 11.96 seconds. He then watched Bergen take second in the Longs Peak League mile at 4:21.18.
“State will be an opportunity to run against some of the best people in the nation,” Bergen said. “I’m more than confident, and I think we can back it up with numbers, but Colorado 4A is the best (distance) division probably in all of Colorado history. Maybe even national history. It’s something special to run with these boys.”
McCormick currently has the fastest mile time in the state at 4:11.13.
Bergen is second at 4:12.30.
What about the dark horse?
While Friday’s meet showcased state favorites across the NCAC, the LPL and the Mile High League, it also introduced the wider area to some of the under-the-radar athletes.
Longmont hurdler Elijah Quinby is fairly new to jumping over barriers. He tried it in middle school. Broke his arm, and that was enough. But now, in his first full season with the event, he has top-10 4A times in both the 110 and 300 as of Friday evening.
In the NCAC 110 finals, he screwed up the percussion rhythm needed to get over the first hurdle, taking nine steps instead of seven before it. Rallying from the back, though, he recovered and won in a time of 15.54. He’ll run in the 300 finals Saturday.
“In eighth grade I wanted to try hurdles, but I broke my arm and quit after that,” Quinby said. “But my coach (Doug Johnson) made me start it up again. And it’s a good thing he did because I’m (among the leaders in the) state right now.”
Quinby’s 110 time put him 10th on the 4A rankings. His 300-hurdle time is currently fourth in the classification.
“You love watching kids like Elijah excel at his craft,” coach Johnson said. “He’s such a powerful and graceful athlete at the same time. And he works his tail off every day.”
Niwot’s Eric Walker, who said he was fighting a cold, won the LPL 110 in 14.62. That was good for fourth best in the state and tops in 4A.
Up in the Air
Silver Creek’s Megan Kelleghan embraced heights long before pole vaulting. It was a product of her time in competitive cheer, where she was thrown 30 feet up and had to hope the people down below were ready to catch her.
“I had zero fear coming into it,” Kelleghan said. “My mom always said, ‘You trusted three people to catch you?’” And I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s nothing.’ So, this is just another form of being thrown into the air.”
The 4A defending champ cleared 12 feet, 9 inches in the NCAC vault Friday, and came painfully close to topping 13-5, which would have beat her 4A meet record of 13-4 1/2 while resetting her own school record.
She said at this year’s state meet she wants to not only defend her crown but claim the top mark among all classifications.
“We’re all having fun trying to beat each other,” she said. Among other projected contenders are 5A defending champ Lilly Nichols of Broomfield, 3A runner-up Kourtney Rathke of Peak to Peak and 3A defending champ Anna Willis of The Classical Academy.
Nichols currently has the top mark this season at 13-4.
Competition from afar
Holy Family sprinter Grayson Arnold was well out front of the competition in the NCAC 100 final.
Later, he’ll check the top 100 times in all of Class 3A and see he overtook Platte Valley’s Devyn Lauer-Duarte for the classification lead.
“I had it for the first month of the season and then a kid came out of nowhere and got me,” Arnold said before pointing to his heart. “It kind of got me right here.”
Arnold hasn’t raced Lauer-Duarte in person this spring but the two have been neck-and-neck in times throughout. Arnold’s time of 10.61 is currently .03 seconds better than the kid from Kersey. The Tigers senior said he’ll keep checking results from afar until the two likely face each other at state in two weeks.
“We’re going to meet one time and it’s going to be for the state final,” Arnold said. “It’s going to be a hell of a race.”
— Skylar Hawk, the do-it-all track star for Holy Family, only picked up the 100 hurdles this season, she said. Friday, she won the NCAC 100 hurdles in 15.20, then false-started in the 100-meter dash. Niwot’s Kimora Northrup had the best 100 hurdles time of the day, winning the LPL event in 14.97.
— Centaurus’ Maggie McCleskey had the fastest girls’ mile time among the three leagues, going 5:07.82. She’ll run at Adams State next season. Niwot’s Madison Shults won the LPL mile in 5:10.19.
— Erie football standouts Jackson Cowgill and John Pastore showed off their next-level strength in the NCAC shot put. Cowgill won with a toss of 48 feet, 1 1/2 inches. Pastore was second at 46-8 1/2.
— Lyons’ Gemma Powell won the MHL discus event with a toss of 122-11. Mead’s Marlee Morris won the NCAC discus by more than 12 1/2 feet with a throw of 110-7.
— Longmont’s Ella Pears won the NCAC girls triple jump at 37-1.75. In boys long jump, teammate Caleb Johnson took first at 22-6. Mead’s Tyler Mayer was second at 22-4 1/2.
— Erie’s Lily Meskers won the NCAC 100-meter dash in 12.56. She held off pole vaulting extraordinaire Kelleghan, who went 12.70.
— The Holy Family boys 800 relay came close to breaking the stadium record, going 1:28.97. The EMF record is 1:27.07, posted by Cherokee Trail in 2013.
— Lyons’ Tyler Ball won the MHL 3,200 in 9:50.82.