Roaring Fork High senior knows Howe she got better
LAKEWOOD — Taila Howe managed her best-ever finish in the long jump Saturday at the Class 3A State Championships. And the first person she gave credit to wasn’t even her teammate.
“Paige has been an awesome person to compete against,” Howe said of Coal Ridge senior Paige Ryan. “There’s no way that I would be where I’m at right now if it hadn’t been for her.”
Howe, the Rams’ lone female representative in the meet, saved her best jump of the day for last. She went 17 feet, 1/2 inch on her final attempt of the meet, becoming one of two people in the event to surpass the 17-foot mark.
The other was Sterling High freshman Kylie Chavez, who went 17-5 during the event finals to win the state championship. She ended up beating the favorites in Howe — whose top mark this season is 17-6¼ — and Ryan, who went up to 17-8¼.
Ryan wound up finishing fourth in the event with a top mark of 16-8, which also came during Saturday afternoon’s finals. Her disappointment came primarily from her previous success, when she three times prior recorded long jumps of 17 feet or more.
“It’s a lot disappointing, not just a little disappointing,” Ryan said.
Ryan, however, is a rookie in the event compared with Howe. She admitted early last week that she started doing the long jump as a joke, but she continued doing it when she had some instant success.
The first came during the Titans’ home meet, when she set the school record for the first time.
That raised the eyebrows of Howe, who had qualified for the state meet in the long jump twice before and managed an eighth-place finish at last year’s state meet with a jump of 16-51/4. Then when Ryan came around, Howe knew she had to step things up a notch.
“Yes! Out of nowhere!” Howe said. “I kept seeing those marks and was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I mean, that’s really impressive.”
Howe, who is going to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder in the fall, is considering walking on for CU’s track-and-field team. She admitted, however, that she probably wouldn’t have reached the marks she did had Ryan’s marks not been there to push her to improve.
Ryan, meanwhile, has drawn some recent interest from Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, where she’s already enrolled to attend in the fall. Ryan admitted that her mark might have been better had it not been for an ankle injury she suffered Wednesday, when she was playing for Coal Ridge in the Class 3A soccer quarterfinals during a 4-1 loss to St. Mary’s in Colorado Springs.
Still, she’s happy that she was able to help a friendly rival, even if she wasn’t happy with her own mark.
“She told me it’s crazy that she’d worked for years at this, and how I had come out and hit those marks at mid-season,” Ryan said, smiling. “She thanked me for helping her and pushing her.”
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Six members of the Glenwood Springers Track and Field Club traveled to Aurora July 10-11 to compete in the Colorado State Junior Olympic Meet with coach Anne Swanson.