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Track and field: Lyons lifting expectations despite coaching change

Goodman hoping to carry on Lions’ tradition of success

Lyons High School's Gemma Powell throws ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Lyons’ Gemma Powell will look to double up in throwing state championships after capturing the 2A discus title last season. (Daily Camera file photo)

Two meets into his first season as Lyons head track and field coach, David Goodman has been nothing short of impressed by what he’s seen.

“I’ve honestly been blown away with the performances they’ve had these first two meets,” said Goodman, who took over this season after the legendary Mark Roberts moved on to Resurrection Christian. “I came in hoping to get a good group of kids out, having a lot of excitement into it, and then I’ve had to adjust my expectations and excitement because they’ve surpassed all the performance that I’ve been expecting.”

Lyons, which finished fourth on the boys side for Class 2A last year, was tested in the St. Vrain RE-1J District Meet and its Lyons Unlimited Meet to begin the new campaign, going up against 4A and 5A powerhouses such as Niwot, Longmont, Erie and Broomfield. Although the Lions finished near the bottom of both meets, several of their returning state qualifiers stood out as bright spots.

Defending 2A state girls discus champion Gemma Powell took first in both the discus and shot put at the Lyons Unlimited on March 16. Her toss of 118 feet, 9 inches in the discus went nearly 20 feet farther than the second-place finisher.

“I was a little worried because I hadn’t had that much practice time before,” said Powell, who had wrapped her junior season playing for the Lyons girls basketball team less than two weeks prior. “But it just feels really natural to me and it was a great confidence booster for the rest of the season.”

Powell was equally pleased with her personal-best throw of 32 feet, 10.5 inches in the shot put, an event that she’s putting more energy toward this season. That kind of result would already put her in contention for state placement based on last year’s 2A results.

“I had a back injury so last year I focused a lot more on discus than shot put,” Powell said. “I want to try and qualify for state in shot put this year because they’re both important and I know being good at one is going to make me better at the other.”

Other girls who have fared well include middle-distance sophomore runner Leah Shelton and versatile junior Josie Gaines. After qualifying for state in four events last season, Gaines owns top-five finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as part of the 800 sprint medley relay, and in the long jump and pole vault to begin this year.

The Lyons boys have been led by a pair of seniors in Nathan Richardson and Cole Thomas. At the Lyons Unlimited, Thomas took second in the 1,600 meter (4:47.01) while Richardson also placed runner-up in the high jump thanks to personal-best leap of 6-1.

“Yes, we want to do well against the other teams and when we get to the postseason, but right now, it’s all about personal improvement,” said Goodman, a former assistant track coach at Centaurus. “You have something in the sport of track and field where you have black and white what your time is. If you can improve on that throughout the season, by the time it gets to that postseason time, then it’s time to start changing gears to where you’re really trying to race the people around you.”

Few other Lyons boys have progressed as much as junior Sage Wynja has since the conclusion of last season, Goodman believes. Wynja had a third-place finish (4:49.92) in the 1,600 at the Lyons Unlimited after placing 15th (4:52.45) at state in the same event just 10 months ago.

“The amount of work and dedication that that kid has put forth throughout the summer before cross country and this winter to really take leadership of his own training and make sure that he’s getting the miles in as well as being able to hit the workout (has been impressive),” Goodman said. “I’d say as far as most improved, he’s definitely going to be a candidate for that this year.”