LAKEWOOD—After some frustration from coaches around the state because of uncertainty by the Colorado High School Activities Association, the 2017 State Track and Field Championships made history this past weekend. For the first time since its inception, the three-day extravaganza was cut down to two days on Saturday and Sunday. Unlike the normal meet, all events were run as timed finals and the field events only allowed competitors to have four attempts.
Despite several San Luis Valley teams spending two extra days in a hotel, they rose to the state competition occasion and performed well. In all, the Valley garnered 38 medals and four state championships on the weekend. Class 1A was able to get five while Class 2A earned 22 and Class 3A earned 11.
Here are several storylines for the San Luis Valley.
Flores’ monster leap earns school record; state title
Monte Vista senior Jose Flores-Lauro took advantage of his four jumps as he used his final jump to win the state title and in the process, he broke the Monte Vista High School long jump record by more than three inches. His final jump was 45 feet, 7.5 inches while the previous best jump in school history was 42 feet, 2 inches.
“I came out and gave it all I had, I have always wanted to break the school record,” noted Flores. “I came out and gave it all I had. I blocked out the pressure this whole year, it’s a tough event but I’m beyond words right now.”
In addition to Flores, Sanford junior Brady Lenz earned a medal by finishing in fifth with a jump of 43 feet, 2.5 inches, just off his season best.
Sanford senior Casey McDaniel finished a spot behind his teammate in sixth with a jump of 43 feet, 1 inch, six inches off his personal best.
Creede’s Vondedenroth outlasts Harmon for 1A pole vault title
By virtue of the least amount of misses, Creede junior Regnor Vondedenroth was able to outlast Pikes Peak sophomore Tommy Harmon for the Class 1A pole vault championship. The champion passed all the way until 11 feet, 3 inches and on his first attempt he was able to clear. He also cleared 11 feet, 9 inches, 12 feet, 3 inches and 12 feet, 9 inches on his first attempt.
“I came out here and I’m happy to be here, everyone is so nice and I had a lot of help,” said Vondedenroth who set up a personal record. “It came down to the last two and we competed very much, I got some help from other schools, just four weeks ago, I was only able to clear 10 feet.”
Harmon missed his first two attempts at 11 feet, 3 inches but the cleared the next three on the first attempt. Neither competitor was able to clear at 13 feet, 3 inches.
DeLaCerda finishes third in 3,200 meter; fourth in 1,600
Alamosa senior Isaiah DeLaCerda has had a year to remember. After winning a third state cross country team title in the fall, he went on to win his third wrestling championship.
This season in track DeLaCerda has taken advantage of his opportunities as earlier this season in the 2017 Pueblo Twilight Invitational, a meet known for fast times in distance events, DeLaCerda shattered a 32-year-old Alamosa High School record as he posted a 9:31.78. DeLaCerda culminated the 3,200-meter portion of his season on Saturday when he finished third. He finished with a time of 9:36.01 while his teammates, senior Caleb Palmer (10:06.86) and senior Caleb Berlinger (10:12.32) finished in 13th and 15th, respectively. The overall winner was The Classical Academy’s Tanner Norman, who won in a state meet record time of 9:14.54.
On Sunday, he went on had another tough race but he battled through and earned a fourth place medal in the 1,600-meter run. He found himself trapped in a box after the first 200 meters. However, as the race progressed and the crowd started to thin, DeLaCerda found a way to draft out to the right and started slowly picking off runners until the final lap in which he put the hammer down and moved into fourth place and posted a four second personal record in the race with a time of 4:28.96.
Caleb Berlinger was just off his personal record as he finished in 16th place with a time of 4:37.83.
Del Norte relays capture three medals
The 800 sprint medley relay proved how tough the state meet actually is as the Del Norte team that went into the state meet with the second fastest time, finished in seventh. The team that consisted of senior Destiny Patrick, senior Maxine Salazar, junior Emilee Haefeli and sophomore Lacie Jones, finished in seventh place in 1:55.01.
In the 4x200 meter relay, the same group of girls moved up one spot and earned sixth place as they finished with a time of 1:50.51.
The 4x100 meter relay was unable to make anything happen in their race as they finished in 16th place with a time of 54.30.
In the 4x400 meter relay on Sunday evening, Patrick, Haefeli and Jones teamed up with sophomore Kiela Madrid and ran a 4:18.18 to finish in fifth.
Moose win third straight 4x800 title
For the third straight year the Alamosa Mean Moose won the 4x800 meter championship. The race was an interesting affair early and quite frankly until the end of the third leg. However, once the anchor, senior Oscar Martinez, had the baton the race was over. The Moose gapped their nearest opponent, Gunnison, by over 10 seconds. They posted an 8:00.12, a mark that bested the Alamosa High School record by hundredths of a second.
The race started with senior Isaiah DeLaCerda, who brought his state title total up to nine with the relay win, getting trapped near the back of the pack after 200 meters.
“I was scared at first but then I saw that I went through the 200 split right where I wanted to be,” noted DeLaCerda. “The second lap I didn’t feel anything.”
He then continued to make up the deficit he faced over the next 600 meters and put Alamosa within striking distance for sophomore Chad Jackson.
Jackson then moved into a one-on-one battle with Gunnison’s runner throughout the race and Alamosa held a slight lead entering the third leg. “I felt good because the pace was exactly how I felt,” Jackson noted.
Senior Caleb Palmer then made the race interesting. He held the lead after 400 meters before Gunnison sophomore Braydon O’Niell passed Palmer entering the final 300 meters. Palmer was able to rattle back and regain the lead in the final 50 meters.
That is when the race was over. Martinez took off and ran his typical race that saw him just pull away from the competition. “I think I built such a big gap in the first lap, I feel like I just broke the Gunnison runner,” Martinez noted.
On the girls’ side, the Sanford Indians had a stellar day as the team of sophomore Hannah Crowther, sophomore Karley Caldon, freshman Abbey Sittler and sophomore Chelsea Edgar improved by 19 seconds to finish in seventh place, a huge jump from their 14th seed.
The Center Vikings’ team of freshman Dolores Estrada, junior Marilu Zamora, senior Alexis Medina and junior Camille Ruggles, posted a time of 11:09.28.
Sargent’s 4x800 squad posted a season record by less than a second; however, they finished in 12th place with a time of 8:54.84
McDaniel finishes second in hurdles
In the 300-meter hurdles, a neck-and-neck race saw senior Casey McDaniel of Sanford narrowly miss the state title as junior Benjamin Jackson of Resurrection Christian posted a time of 40.35 to outlast McDaniel, who finished in 40.38.
Martinez captures 800 crown
On Sunday, Alamosa senior Oscar Martinez got everything off and running as he demolished his personal record in the open 800 meter. He won the race with a time of 1.55.12.
“I came in really confident, after winning yesterday (4x800). I came back a little tired,” noted Martinez after the race. “But I didn’t let that get to me, I told myself that I wasn’t here to be tired.”
The win for Martinez comes after a sixth place finish last year in which he entered as the No. 2 ranked runner. “I knew this year I had to go out harder than last year,” he noted of the comparison. “I was willing to hurt, that’s a huge part of running the 800, and you can’t get comfortable on your face.”
Like DeLaCerda, Martinez will finish his storied carrier with an impressive mark in the title column as he finishes with seven titles, three in cross country, three 4x800 and the open 800.
Freel posts PR for second place in shot put
Sangre de Cristo’s Tanner Freel was able to get a personal record by a foot and two inches on Saturday. However, he was five inches short of getting the Class 1A State Championship in shot put. Marco Ramos of Arickaree won the title with a throw of 44 feet, 2 inches while Freel ended his prep career with a 43 feet, 9 inch throw.
Monte Vista finishes second in the 4x100
Despite posting a season best time of 44.62, the Monte Vista Pirates narrowly missed the state title by half a second in the 4x100 on Sunday afternoon as Wiggins earned the title. The Team of senior Moises Juarez, senior DeAndre Sanchez, senior Noel Heredia and senior Jose Flores battled through and were just nipped at the line.
In other events…Saturday
The first race of the entire weekend saw Center junior Camille Ruggles battle to maintain her 17th seed as she came back from the final spot and finished in her seeded spot with a time of 17:50.03 in the 3,200 meter run.
The 800 sprint medley relay was not kind to one Valley team early Saturday. In the Class 3A event the Alamosa team of sophomore Nicole Gonzalez, junior Andrea Rodriguez, sophomore Unique Espino and junior Skylar DeHerrera, finished in 17th with a time of 2:05.44, despite entering the meet with a seed 12 seconds faster.
Alamosa rebounded with a sixth place finish in the 4x200 meter relay as freshman Allyssa Romero, junior Tara Sowards, junior Reyna Garcia and freshman Lilly Lavier posted a time of 1:47.76.
Patrick earned a single team point in the 300-meter hurdles as she finished in ninth with a time on 49.38, a season best time for her. Her teammate, Haefeli finished in 12th in the 200 meter dash as she finished in a time of 27.73.
Alamosa senior Jessica Archuleta-Trujillo finished in 15th in the 300 hurdles as she finished in 49.72, just tenths of a second off her season best.
In the field events, Del Norte’s Jeff Stevenson finished in sixth place as he was able to clear 5 feet, 10 inches and match his season best on the second attempt. He was unable to clear 6 feet. Sanford’s Brady Lenz finished in a three-way tie for eighth place as he was pressured by having to do triple jump at the same time. He was only able to clear 5 feet, 8 inches. Monte Vista’s Austin Brown cleared 5 feet, 6 inches and finished in a tie for 13th place.
In the boys’ discus, Center’s Sean Cook barely missed the awards podium as he finished in tenth while Del Norte’s Hafen Campbell finished in 11th. They threw distances of 132 feet, 8 inches and 128 feet, 2 inches, respectively.
In Class 1A girls’ discus, Creede’s Olivia Madrid earned a medal by finishing in eighth place with a throw of 92 feet, 5 inches.
In the 3A high jump, freshman Taylor Motz finished in 11th place as she was able to clear 4 feet, 11.5 inches.
In other events… Sunday
Alamosa freshman Lilly Lavier was the second fastest freshman in the Class 3A 800-meter dash as she finished in seventh place and had a personal record just over a second as she finished in 2:18.71. Junior Richard Sais finished in 15th place as he posted a time of 2:09.61 in the boys’ race.
In the 100-meter hurdle finals, Alamosa senior Jessica Archuleta-Trujillo medaled again by finishing in seventh place with a 16.28 time. Meanwhile sophomore Mary Streeter finished in 17.23.
Sanford senior Casey McDaniel was stellar as well as he finished in fourth place in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.02, just a thousandth of a second off his personal record.
Sangre de Cristo junior Dillon Palmgren bested his finish from last year as he finished in seventh in the event with a time of 16.84.
In the 100-meter dash, Monte Vista’s Moises Juarez finished in 11.65 to take 12th place. Center senior Malyka Medina finished in seventh in the 100-meter dash as she finished with a time of 12.85.
Brady Lenz took third in the long jump as he was just under three inches off his personal record as he finished with a jump of 21 feet, .75 inches. Monte Vista’s Juarez finished in sixth place in the event, also three inches off his season best with a jump of 20 feet, 4 inches.
Vondedenroth finished seventh in the Class 1A discus as he fouled his last two attempts but had a throw of 118 feet, 10 inches.
Caroline VanBerkum finished in 12th in the girls discus as she had a throw of 94 feet, 1 inch, 10 feet off her season best.
In the high jump, Lacie Jones and Devin Dallas both medaled in the high jump as Jones cleared 5 feet 10 inches and Dallas cleared 4 feet, 9 inches.
In the 4x400 meter relays, Alamosa’s team of Ian and Chad Jackson, Hunter Romero and Oscar Martinez posted a four second season best record and finished fourth place while Centauri’s team of Michael Sowards, Sam Anderson, Dustyn Sowards and Jayden Gomez finished in 3:29.91 to take seventh place.
In Class 2A, Sanford’s squad of Brady Lenz, Zack Sittler, Jackson Jarvies and Casey McDaniel, finished in 3:36.74.
In Class 2A shot put, Center senior Joseph Sierra finished in fifth place with a throw of 43 feet, 7.25 inches.