Air Academy's Maria Mettler wins 4A 3,200 with late kick

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Photo - Air Academy's Maria Mettler crosses the finish line and wins the 3200 Meter Run 4A. The finals of Colorado state track were held at Jeffco Stadium on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette
Air Academy's Maria Mettler crosses the finish line and wins the 3200 Meter Run 4A. The finals of Colorado state track were held at Jeffco Stadium on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette

LAKEWOOD - Air Academy's Maria Mettler waited patiently to make her move in the 4A 3,200 meters Saturday.

She was saving some of her energy for the end of the race and some of it for the three other events she's taking part in during the condensed two-day state track and field meet.

Under the sun at Jeffco Stadium, Mettler rode the heels of Denver North's Kayla Young into the final lap before jolting ahead in the final 350 meters.

Her late explosion carried her to the win in 10 minutes and 47.25 seconds and helped the Kadets' girls team secure second place in the 4A standings after day one.

"Yeah, I have three other races to do in two days," the senior said with a grin. "So I wanted to save some of my energy. I knew I had a good kick, so that was my plan going in. I'm glad it worked."

Mettler, like many athletes at the state meet, was forced to tweak her mindset after the normal three-day meet was rescheduled into a two-day frenzy.

The Colorado High School Activities Association waited until Thursday morning, day one of the meet, before it reconstructed the meet to Saturday-Sunday because of inclement weather.

Air Academy teammate Ethan Powell said he also felt like he needed to save something with more events to go in such a small window of time.

"It's certainly more difficult than having (the same number of events) stretched out over almost twice as much time," Powell said. "Everybody's experiencing the same level of stress with it being condensed."

Powell, who took second in the 3,200 in 9:27.06, said he didn't believe it would affect the overall placing.

"It's going to affect times, sure. But I think as far as competition and where people are going to place I don't think it's going to affect it a ton."

Mettler led the way for the Kadets' girls team. It was another step in what has been a seamless transition into the team's lead distance slot after former standout Katie Rainsberger graduated.

On Saturday, Mettler again picked up where Rainsberger left off and gave the Kadets their third straight title in the 3,200. Rainsberger won the event in runaway fashion in 2015 and 2016.

"She's just seeing the fruits of her labor, really," Air Academy coach Chuck Schwartz said. "That's a nice feather in her cap. Got a little more to do tomorrow."