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Salmens race together for one last time

Phil Sandoval

It’s hard to say goodbye to a teammate. Especially when he’s your brother.

Chas and Marco Salmen hugged each other moments before their final race together Saturday afternoon.

As usual, they wished each other well, then prepared themselves to run for the Class 4A state 3200-meter gold medal.

If there were a higher power to call on for happy endings, surely that entity would have allowed the Salmen brothers to complete their last race together with a first- and second-place finish.

But it wasn’t to be.

And in a ceremonial passing of the family torch, Marco beat Chas to the wire.

But, there was no gold medal waiting for either of the Salmens at the end of this race.

Marco, the junior, finished in sixth place. Chas, the senior, took seventh, just behind his brother.

And the brothers are OK with it.

“Before this weekend, we talked about what would be the perfect race,” Chas said.

“We talked about finishing 1-2 and all this stuff. But, the best would be running as fast as we could and the very end we would be kicking it all out.”

The brothers did just that.

Chas never led in Saturday’s 3200.

Marco did momentarily until David Olson took command.

The Lewis-Palmer senior from Monument, who won the 1600 on Friday, bested the field by 10 seconds, coasting to a 9:28.75 finish, well ahead of Liberty’s Joel Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the Salmens waffled in the middle of the pack before making one final push.

“I told Marco to go for it and kick,” Chas said. “I came up behind him in lap 5 and told him, `Let’s go!’

“I can’t tell you how proud of him I was coming up on that backstretch. I saw him kick up beside me and it was the coolest thing in the world.,” Chas said.

“I wish I had better adjectives to describe it … but it was awesome.”

On top of the emotions Chas was feeling, he was also sick, physically.

Lingering illnesses along with an impacted wisdom tooth had weakened the Demon senior. And it showed during Friday’s 1600.

The elder Salmen, who will be attending Duke University this fall, mustered enough will to notch a seasonal best time of 4 minutes, 34.20 seconds for a 14th place finish. Marco took sixth place by running in at 4:28.09.

The race also yielded a state record when Lewis-Palmer’s Olson ran 4:12.61, breaking the 2000 mark of 4:13.12, set by Jared Scott, also of Lewis-Palmer.

But, it was obvious Chas was not at full strength.

“It was really hard (to run this weekend). I don’t like to admit it, but I was really scared before that last race,” said Chas of the 3200.

Marco said he just wanted to enjoy the last race he’d run with his brother.

“It’s such a special thing because we’ll never get to do this again,” he said.

“I don’t think we could have asked for much more,” Marco continued.

“The seasons we’ve had in cross country and track, we’ve been able to do it all together. The only sad part is it’s got to end.”

“You can’t script this,” Chas said of the past three years. “There were so many things that came up, both good things and bad.”

Chas credited Demon coach Blake Risner for his and Marco’s development.

Marco summed up the final day of competition with his brother on a positive note.

“It’s such a beautiful day to be running and it’s beautiful running with my brother. You couldn’t ask for more.”


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