The meet was almost too good to be true. We had some bobbles, but we placed in the three relays we qualified. We were fifth in the 4×200, third in the 4×800 and state champs in the 4×400. Obviously there was a lot of teamwork involved but Adam Arellano was the man of the hour. He ran on every relay, two of those with the fastest split, and placed fourth individually in the 400.
The first disappointment was Chad Stapleton’s 800. In what he thought was the slow heat, he went out too fast, 53 for the first 400, and faded in the last 150 meters. Still he was 13th overall in 2:00.51 and learned a painful lesson about pacing. Then Jeremy Behling failed to make finals in the 300 hurdles. He’d been long jumping all morning, left that to run the preliminary round of the 4×200 relay, and with very little rest tried to qualify in the hurdles. He was two places too slow. The good news is that he placed second in the long jump with a 22’10” jump thus becoming the highest male individual track finisher in County’s history.
On Saturday morning our first event was the 4×800 relay. Josh Bunn led off with a PR 2:05 + that had us well back but the exchange to Adam was good. Adam ran a 1:57+ to get us up near the front. Mark Montelongo ran a PR 2:03.5 passing one runner while losing ground to the leaders. Chad ran a wonderful 1:57+ but couldn’t catch the strong anchors ahead though he closed on them. Our 8:04.22 broke the school record by five seconds and was at that point the highest relay finish by a County team.
Our 4×200 relay was the only run that didn’t set a school record and we needed it but many a school would have been glad to take our 1:30.53 and the fifth place medals. Chad high jumped 6’0″ which wasn’t bad but well out of the money. In the 400 we got fourth and fifth in a sensational race with the first two runners in the 47’s. Adam was 49.59 and John Thomason was 49.77. A little later John took sixth in the 200 with a 22.78.
Finally as the meet drew to a close the 4×400 teams began to line up. Jeremy put his blocks behind the three curve stagger line in lane six, just outside favored Mullen in lane five. With a 52+ leadoff Jeremy gave the baton to Chad in the mix. Chad emerged from his first curve in third and his 50.2 brought us to second. John’s 49.0 gave Adam a huge cushion in first and Mullen’s 47.1 anchor didn’t seem to dent it. Adam’s split was 48.8. Our 3:19.93 victory proved to be faster than the winning 5A time. Needless to say it was a school record. Euphoria reigned among parents, coaches and teammates. Several minutes later, after the meet was over and several victory pictures were taken, Adam was asked if he was tired. “Now,” he said. “The last part of the race, I felt wonderful.” So did we.
At that moment we felt like the County High 4×400 relay team was the story of the meet. Actually there were many stories. One was the female pole vaulters, including the 5A winner who cleared 11’6″. Probably opening height next year will be 8′ or maybe even 9′.
On Friday morning Jenna Bimbi locked up with Natalie Hughes from Palisade who was three time defending champion in the 800, 1600 and 3200. It was soon a two runner race with Jenna and Natalie well ahead of a good field. Jenna passed before the final curve but Natalie repassed and started to pull away. Jenna found something extra and came back. When she passed Natalie, the weight of many expectations seemed to suddenly crash on the palisade girls shoulders and she almost collapsed. Jenna surged through the finish line in a new 4A state record 2:11.94. The next day they tried again in the 1600 with a similar result. Only this time Hughes, who’d won her fourth 3200 title Friday afternoon, battled all the way to the line. Jenna got her second state championship in a PR 5:07.13.
Another undefeated girl, sprinter Alexis Joyce of George Washington also had her streak broken in the 5A 200 Friday afternoon. Shannon Patterson of Longmont passed up her spot in the 400 finals, where she was my pick, to challenge Joyce in the 200. When Patterson came by Joyce near the end of the race, Joyce crumpled. Patterson must have been glorying in her conquest when freshman Ty Livingston of Wasson came by her.
I don’t think Livingston could have beaten Joyce by herself. Patterson may never forgive herself for forgetting to run as fast as possible past the finish line, but she and Joyce, and Hughes will probably go on to faster times.