Grand Valley’s 800 Sprint Medley team narrowly misses 3A state championship on Day 2 of CHSAA state track and field championships
A photo finish of just six hundredths of a second was the difference between a state championship, and a second-place finish Friday afternoon for the Grand Valley Cardinals’ girls 800 Sprint Medley relay team, on Day 2 of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s state track and field championships at JeffCo Stadium.
Sitting in fourth-place midway through the race, sophomore Jordyn Pittman received the baton from junior Shaya Chenoweth and made her move, pushing all the way up to second, nearly tracking down Lutheran’s Regan Unrich at the finish line.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Lions clocked a time of 1:49.63, while the Cardinals clocked a time of 1:49.69. That’s how close the Cardinals were to claiming the state championship in arguably their best relay team under head coach Mark Jansen.
“I just got caught up in the crowd a bit there once I took the baton from Shaya,” Pittman said following the race. “I didn’t want to jump outside. I was really frustrated to see the time that close on the board; my team really wanted to win, but we have next year with this group.”
While the Cardinals finished second in the race, narrowly missing out on first, the Coal Ridge Titans’ 800 Sprint Medley team of senior Emily Wright, senior Jaycelyn Kreuger, senior Santana Martinez, and junior Kara Morgan came in fifth place in the race, clocking a time of 1:52.18, while the Rifle Bears’ relay team of junior Halie Holmes, sophomore Hope Kehr, freshman Mackenzie Elizardo, and sophomore Delaney Phillips placed eighth in the event with a time of 1:52.64.
Despite the fifth-place finish, the Titans were pretty pleased with the performance, even if Morgan — the anchor in the race for Coal Ridge — had to change up her strategy some to keep pace with the top teams.
“I think the top runners for Elizabeth, Grand Valley, and Lutheran, like to come out sprinting as soon as they get the baton, whereas I save myself for the end,” Morgan said following the race. “Today, I figured that I’d try and keep up with them in the beginning and push myself early, but I think it drained me some. I don’t run 400s a lot every weekend, so I’m starting to feel it today.”
In 4A action, Glenwood Springs senior AJ Crowley qualified for the 300m hurdle finals after clocking a personal best time of 39.67 seconds in the preliminary heat, while junior Wyatt Ewer (40.10 seconds), and junior Bryce Risner (40.39 seconds) missing qualifying for the final after placing 10th and 12th in preliminary times.
“It’s a lot of stress off my back [to qualify for the final in both the 110m and 300m finals],” Crowley said following the 300m hurdle preliminary race. “Last year, we didn’t have the heats because of what the weather did to the state meet. That was my very first experience at state, so this year it’s super nice to qualify for finals.
“The race felt really smooth for me. Last year, I came out of the blocks, and that first hurdle came up fast. Today I was just under control and knew what to prepare for.”
While Crowley qualified for the final, Ewer placed sixth in the second heat with a fast time. Ewer’s preliminary time would have been good enough for fourth in the first heat, but he got caught up in a loaded second heat, pushing him down to sixth in the race, keeping him out of the finals by one slot.
“I’m not mad about what the time was, but in my head, that wasn’t fast enough to qualify for finals,” Ewer said following the second heat. “Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping like state track does; I play two other varsity sports, and nothing compares to the way state track competitions gets your blood pumping.”
Earlier in the day, disaster struck Glenwood junior Gavin Harden in the 3200m final.
Cruising in seventh-place with just over two-and-a-half laps to go, a competitor behind him tripped Harden up, causing the junior to fall from seventh to 11th at the finish line, clocking a time of 9:47.75.
“I feel bad for the kid, but I’m proud of the way that Gavin fought today,” Glenwood Head Coach Blake Risner said.
For the Glenwood girls, senior Ginny Bergstrom qualified for the 300m hurdle finals after clocking a time of 45.26 seconds, finishing third in her heat, drawing a sixth-place spot in the finals.
Teammate Sequoia Kellogg missed qualifying for the 300m hurdle finals for Glenwood after clocking a time of 46.93 seconds, good for 12th in preliminary times.
In the 4A boys high jump, Bryce Risner cleared the bar at 6-02.00, finishing ninth to reach the podium for the Demons, while the Glenwood 4x400m relay team of junior Gavin Olson, Crowley, sophomore Kuba Bartnik, and senior Aaron Smith qualified for the 4A finals after placing seventh in preliminary times with a mark of 3:25.19.
The Glenwood girl’s 4x400m relay team of senior Morgan Hollenback, senior Saylor Warren, senior Ginny Bergstrom, and sophomore Sophia Vigil also qualified for the finals after placing eighth in preliminary times with a finish of 4:01.82.
Coal Ridge’s 4x200m girls relay team of Wright, Martinez, Morgan, and Kreuger finished fourth in the event’s final, clocking a time of 1:47.89, while the Titan boys’ 4x200m relay team of senior Brandon Herrera, senior Ezequiel Contreras, freshman Moises Contreras, and senior Jacx Power placed ninth in the final with a time of 1:32.67 running in lane one.
The Titan girls’ 4x400m relay team of Morgan, senior Paige Harlow, sophomore Maren Hough, and Kreuger qualified for the final after placing sixth in the preliminary race with a time of 4:11.75, while the Rifle girls team of junior Amanda Green, freshman Maddy Valencia, Elizardo, and junior Ashley Manera placed 15th with a time of 4:21.08.
In the girls 3A pole vault, Rifle’s Ashley Manera set a new school record, placing fifth by clearing a height of 9-9.00, while Green and Emilee Demann, and Coal Ridge’s Phoebe Young tied for 10th in the event, as all three cleared heights of 8-9.00.