LAKEWOOD — Mariela Martinez crossed the finish line Saturday, thrusting her arms in the air as the track-and-field season came to a close.
And it closed in a pretty positive way for the Coal Ridge Titans boys and girls squads.
Martinez anchored the Titans’ 1,600-meter relay team and crossed the finish line in a state-meet-record time of 3 minutes, 57.98 seconds, the second state championship for the Coal Ridge girls in a meet that provided plenty of highlights for the Titans.
And the girls 1,600 relay was the biggest highlight of all.
“I could feel her coming up on me,” Martinez said of Classical Academy anchor leg Brianne Hoglin. “Our goal from the beginning was to beat the state record, and we all did our part.”
Martinez teamed with Paige Ryan, Amber Bowles and Amanda Wenzel for the second relay title of the meet for the Titans. Classical Academy finished second, and Saturday’s performance broke the previous meet record of 3:58.07, which was set in 2012 by none other than The Classical Academy.
Coal Ridge High School’s boys track team, meanwhile, came oh so close to winning a team championship.
The Titans dropped to second in the team standings during the final hours of the meet, falling just short of what would have been the first team championship of any kind in Coal Ridge High School’s short history. The Classical Academy, a charter school in Colorado Springs, came away with the team championship thanks to its overall depth in the distance and field events. The Classical Academy Titans won three state championships in the running events and a state title in the long jump, which proved to be the difference.
Coal Ridge had just one state champion in senior Andy Bowles, who won the high jump and ended up placing in each of his three events.
“Classical is just too deep,” Coal Ridge coach Ben Kirk said. “We knew going in that they had about two more events than we did, and we had to have a lot of things go right for the title to happen. All that said, we stilll have an awful lot to be proud of from this meet.”
Bowles, hampered by a gash on his knee he got while running in the 110-hurdles preliminaries Thursday, still found his way to the top of the podium in the high jump. The Colorado State University commit went 6-5 to win the event — well below his season-best mark of 6-10 last month — and managed a second-place finish in the 110 hurdles.
It was a big deal for Bowles to finish the way he did. During his junior year, he pulled a hamstring during the 110 hurdles final and had to walk the final of the 300 hurdles. This year, running through Thursday’s injury — which took eight stitches to patch up — meant a lot to him.
“Hey, I finished all the races,” Bowles said, laughing. “That was my overall goal.”
Bowles’ senior teammate, Trevor Kelly, practically finished side by side with Bowles in the 110 hurdles in third place. He was more than happy with his mark of 20 feet, 6¾ inches in the 3A long-jump final, even though it was close to 3 inches shorter than his personal best mark in the event.
“I’m more than happy with it,” Kelly said. “It’s the best I could do today.”
Then there’s Chris Contreras, the Titans’ top sprinter. He just barely finished second in the 400 meters and took fourth place in the 100, and his sixth-place finish in the 200 provided the Titans at least a fighting chance to win the team championship.
The Classical Academy, however, had distance runners where Coal Ridge did not, giving it a 12-point advantage in the team standings with two races remaining. The Classical Academy’s third-place finish in the 400-meter relay, accompanied by an eighth-place finish by Coal Ridge in the same event, sealed it.
Coal Ridge had plenty of success come on the girls side, too.
Amber Bowles began inching her way up the podium in the 100 hurdles, finishing third in Saturday’s event final after finishing fourth in the event as a freshman last year.
“The only reason I’m not happy with it is because I didn’t set a PR,” she said. “I’m hoping for more next year.”
Britni Allen surprised herself in the 3A shot put finals. She had a personal-best mark of 38-4½, which was more than 2 feet better than her previous best mark headed into the meet. Hannah Carr, of The Classical Academy, won the event with a mark of 41-4¾.
Grand Valley had a state placer on the boys side. The Cardinals’ 400-meter relay team managed a fifth-place finish in 44.81, just ahead of the fifth-place time of 45.00 by Coal Ridge.