Daily Camera file photo
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
LAKEWOOD — With one attempt remaining in the boys triple jump on Thursday, Longmont’s Caleb Johnson knew he had more to give.
After a pep talk from coaches and friends, he found another gear and won the Class 4A state title at Jeffco Stadium. Johnson, a senior, matched his personal record — and the school record — with a leap of 46 feet, 9 inches on the first day of the state meet.
“I had a few people talk to me, just telling me I could do it,” Johnson said. “I believed that in my head I could do it. I knew this was gonna be my last jump of high school and I had to give it my all, so I just put my best foot forward and I ended up getting it.”
Johnson knocked off Grand Junction’s Miller Jones, who came in as the favorite and finished second at 46-4.5. Johnson was 6 1/4 inches off the lead before his final leap. Jones had one more attempt, but couldn’t top Johnson’s mark.
“It was super surreal,” Johnson said. “Last year was pretty disappointing (finishing 11th). I didn’t get the marks I wanted, so to improve this year to eventually be a state champion means a lot. I have a great coach and I’ve been getting better every week, so I just was trusting the process and I knew I could beat him if I gave a good jump.”
Longmont also had a great performance in the boys 3,200-meter relay, placing second behind Cheyenne Mountain. The team of Cooper Hixson, Andreas O’Malley, Dominic Warner and Connor McCormick posted a time of 7 minutes, 52.34 seconds — breaking the school record.
“We’re very excited,” McCormick said. “Last year we got second at this race, too, but I believe we had an 8:03 for that. We were a quarter of a second off from our school record last year. … We just blew out our school record by about 10 seconds so we’re really happy with it even though we didn’t get that win.”
Centaurus placed third in the boys 3,200-meter relay (7:59.53), while Mead was sixth (8:02.84).
On the girls side for the Trojans, Ella Pears placed second in the 4A triple jump with a leap of 36 feet, 7 inches. Pears led a trio of local athletes in the triple jump, as Niwot’s Kathryn Carroll was eighth (34-9) and Erie’s Kiara Welch was ninth (34-0.75).
In cruising to the Class 4A state title a year ago, the Niwot girls swept all five relays. On Thursday, the Cougars got off to a good start in their quest to sweep the relays again.
Niwot kicked off the state meet with a victory in the 3,200-meter relay. Senior Eva Klingbeil teamed with sophomores Olivia Alessandrini, Audrey Robinson and Cayden Justice to post a time of 9:24.75. Second-place Durango was 8.38 seconds behind.
“I didn’t really have any pressure because I trust all of these girls that they’re all gonna go out and do their best,” said Klingbeil, who ran the anchor leg. “We all trust each other in our abilities. I feel like there’s a little pressure on us but we don’t really feel it. We all feel really confident with ourselves.”
While that was the only relay final of the day, the Cougars also posted the top qualifying time in the 800 sprint medley preliminaries and the second-best time in the 800 relay prelims. On Friday, the Cougars will run in the 400 relay and 1,600 relay prelims.
“We definitely really prioritize the relays and especially the team aspect of relays,” Klingbeil said. “It’s just really important to us.”
Fairview sophomore Charlotte Elliston placed third in the 5A girls long jump. She was sixth a year ago.
“I felt pretty good,” she said. “I’m battling some (sore) shins and today … but definitely compared to last year, I feel more confident in my jumps.”
More to come for Rathke
When Peak to Peak sophomore Kourtney Rathke re-enters the fold for the Class 3A state track and field competition on Friday, she’ll already have quite the accomplishment under her belt.
Rathke, who’s expected to contend for a state title in the pole vault with her No. 2 seed height of 13 feet, 1 inch, finished third in the triple jump on Thursday after blowing past her former personal record of 36-9. She earned her bronze medal with a third hop of 37-3.25.
“It’s so exciting. I love trying new events during high school season,” Rathke said. “That’s kind of what I do because pole vault’s my main event, so just throughout the high school season, I get to do other events. It’s just a really fun time.”
When Rathke returns to the runway for pole vault on what’s expected to be a very rainy Friday, she’ll already be surpassing her personal best from her freshman season by a wide margin, which saw her take the silver with a 12-3 clearance.
On the final day of the track meet, she’ll throw her name into the pool of competitors in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles as well. She finished fifth in the 100 hurdles prelims at 16.10 seconds.
“I just love to compete,” she said. “I love the environment and it’s always fun just to show how hard you’ve worked over the season, so it’s always a good opportunity. Today was such nice weather against the forecast and so I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity for sure.”
Stunning the competition
Lyons head coach Mark Roberts knew his team’s job wouldn’t be easy going into the 2A competition, but he always believed his Lions were the dark horse of the weekend.
On Thursday, they proved just as much when the boys 3,200 relay team took home the silver with a finals time of 8:29.72. The squad comprised of junior Tyler Ball, sophomore Sage Wynja, senior Arjen Wynja and junior Cole Thomas not only made the jump up from their No. 6 seed time, but they blew that former season-best mark by an astonishing near-23 seconds (8:52.58).
Roberts never doubted they would make the drop because Ball didn’t really put in his full effort when they hit the original qualifying time.
Senior Grant Gau pulled off even more of a stunner in the long jump. He was seeded 16th with a 19-9 distance and had never broken 20 feet in his entire career.
When he looked over to his coaches and then looked down at the anime bracelet he was wearing, he decided he had nothing left to lose in the last meet of his high school career. He went for broke in the preliminary round and hit 21 feet, 1/2 inch.
That was all he needed to earn the bronze.
At the end of the day, Lyons sat in first with 15 points in the team competition.
Going the distance
Holy Family’s girls 3,200 relay team may have hit their seed time of 10:04.54 more than a month before the 3A state meet, but the ladies didn’t seem to mind. In their finals race on Thursday afternoon, they beat that time by three seconds and then some as they crossed the finish line in fifth place for a time of 10:01.31.
The mixed-class team of senior Alyssa Jany, junior Olivia Bertagnolli, sophomore Moriah Montoya and freshman Maya Davis hadn’t competed in a single 3,200 relay in the two weeks leading up to the state meet. Instead, they focused on improving their speed in their own individual distance events in that period of time.
Jany believes that individual work made all the difference in dropping their time so dramatically during the last meet of the season.
In the 5A boys 3,200 meters, Fairview’s Eric Sankey was fourth (9:26.42), while Boulder’s Gavin Geer was seventh (9:28.25). … Legacy placed sixth in the girls 3,200-meter relay (9:35.83), while Boulder was seventh in the boys 3,200-meter relay (8:07.38). … Fairview’s Flynn Meier was seventh in the 5A boys pole vault (13-0). … Silver Creek senior Aidan Miller placed fourth in the Class 4A boys high jump with a leap of 6-4. … In the 4A girls high jump, Frederick’s Gracie Wilts was eighth (5-1), while Mead’s Addison Babcock was ninth (4-11). …Prospect Ridge won a pair of medals in Class 3A. Junior Logan Goodman placed sixth in the boys 3200 meters (10:04.52), while the Miners placed seventh in the girls 3200-meter relay (10:09.66).