State track day 2: Close, but not quite champions for area state athletes
That’s all that stood between Basalt sophomore Sierra Bower and a 3A state championship in the 3200-meter run.
That last 50 meters proved to be a tough one to figure out as Bower lost steam, allowing The Classical Academy’s Kaylee Thompson to edge past for the win by 31 one-hundredths of second.
“I’m still very proud of myself; it’s still a personal record for me at altitude, so I can’t be mad about that,” said Bower following the race. “I’m still really happy with the results. Obviously, I still wanted the title, but it’s still motivating for next season.”
Bower led most of the race to open day two of the Colorado High School Activities Association state track and field championships, holding steady throughout the race. The sophomore tried to open up a bit more distance between herself and the field, but that never materialized.
“I tried to open it up, but I just couldn’t find that kick, honestly,” said Bower. “I felt great all race; I just couldn’t find that extra gear when I needed it.”
The narrow loss will surely motivate the sophomore for the next two years, though.
“It’s definitely a lot of motivation knowing I was this close,” said Bower. “Second-place is great, but I’m not quite satisfied yet.”
on to finals
Bower’s open to the morning was a positive sign of things to come for area athletes, as Glenwood Springs seniors Sequoia Kellogg, Wyatt Ewer, and Bryce Risner all claimed spots in Saturday’s 4A final of the 300m hurdles.
Ewer won his heat in 39.14 seconds, giving him the top heat time heading into the finals. Risner finished second in his heat with a time of 39.59 seconds, which seeded him in fourth heading into the final.
Ewer surprised a lot of people early in the morning, blazing his way around the track, flipping his competitive switch early and never looking back. The senior ran down Northfield’s Zaire Jackson — one of the fastest kids in the state — to claim the top lane assignment.
“I always love chasing people down,” Ewer said after the heat win. “I loved chasing people down in football and basketball, and that didn’t change here. If I see someone in front of me I want to go get him. I had a ton of confidence coming into the race and I wanted to go get him right from the start.”
Prior to Ewer’s and Risner’s race, Kellogg placed fourth in her heat, putting her into the finals thanks to the last three spots based on time. The senior was neck-and-neck with the top three throughout the heat, before falling slightly behind at the end.
By finishing fourth and grabbing a finals spot, Kellogg accomplished a goal of hers coming into the state meet.
“I never made it to the finals in the 300 hurdles in the three previous seasons, so to do this today makes me so happy,” said Kellogg. “It’s like the best feeling ever; I’ve been pushing for this since my freshman year.”
lady titans 2nd
In 3A, the Coal Ridge Titans’ girls 4x200m relay team of Mary Bolitho, Kara Morgan, Ari Cornejo, and Peyton Garrison battled all the way back from fifth place early in the race to finish second in the state in 3A with a time of 1:46.26, finishing less than half a second out of first place.
Bolitho and Morgan had a slow exchange after the first 200 meters, which put the Titans in a hole. Morgan worked hard to close some ground before her handoff to Cornejo, who sprinted down the front stretch to get to Garrison. From there, the standout freshman found an extra gear and nearly ran down Moffat County in the lead, moving the Titans three spots forward for the silver.
“We knew we had to push hard and run our best race,” said Morgan following the second-place finish. “I’m just so proud of these girls. We ran a great race.”
Right after the 4x200m relay, lightning entered the area, clearing the field and the stadium for an hour, delaying a number of events.
Fortunately for Glenwood’s Risner, the delay helped the Glenwood senior get a breather before the 4A high jump commenced.
Looking for a state championship in his final bid in the high jump, Risner faced some adversity but came out on the other side for a third-place finish, tying his personal best of 6 feet, 6 inches.
Risner had to clear the bar on his third and final attempt twice, keeping him alive in his bid for a state championship before coming up just short.
“I was definitely calm, even though I kept hitting the bar and standard with my hand, which was really unusual for me,” said Risner. “I was able to get past it on those third attempts.”
“We’re very pleased with Bryce’s third-place finish,” added Blake Risner, Glenwood’s longtime head coach and Bryce’s father. “He just showed a great deal of perseverance there, getting over the bar on his third attempt twice.”
more field feats
Coal Ridge sophomore Phoebe Young atoned for a rough showing in the state pole vault competition last spring by clearing a personal-best height of 11 feet, giving her a second-place finish in 3A.
“I’m just really pleased overall,” said Young. “I’m not at all disappointed by second place. This made up for last season for sure, and now I’m even more motivated for next year.”
The sophomore capped off a great season in the pole vault, in which she broke the school record (which she held) twice. That carried over into the state meet, where she was ready to go.
Meanwhile, Coal Ridge teammate Taylor Wiescamp grabbed a sixth-place finish in the 3A discus, recording a throw of 36 feet, 01.25 inches.
Grand Valley senior Shaya Chenoweth also grabbed a podium finish in field events with a fifth-place finish in the long jump, recording a distance of 17-01.00.
Closing out the day in relay events, the Rifle Bears’ boys 4x200m relay team of Dalton Pruett, Embrey Marantino, Bryce Schanche, and Tanner Vines grabbed a third-place finish in the event with a time of 1:32.15, finishing one one-hundredth of a second behind Classical Academy in second.
The Glenwood boys’ 4x400m relay team of Gavin Olson, Risner, Kuba Bartnik and Ewer burned up the track for a heat win, giving them the second-best time heading into Saturday’s finals.
Olson got off to a terrific start, sprinting out of the blocks before overtaking the competition in the final turn before handing off to Risner, who then opened up a gap on the field on his lap, giving Bartnik a sizeable lead. On Bartnik’s lap, an opponent gained some ground in the final turn, but once Bartnik — who held the lead the entire lap — handed off to Ewer, the senior refused to relinquish the lead.
“I couldn’t hear him behind me, but I could hear his coaches and friends cheering him on, and there was no way I was letting him get past me,” Ewer said at the end of the race.
“The guys worked for it; that’s all I can ask,” Ewer added. “They worked their butts off. Gavin ran an amazing opening leg like always; Bryce holding opening up the lead the way that he did … what an amazing athlete … man, I love that guy.
“And Kuba, he fought those last few runners off. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Saturday’s final day of the 2019 state track and field championships kicks off with the 3A and 4A girls 100m hurdles, starting at 9:30 a.m.
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