LAKEWOOD - With nasty weather and championships for the Fountain-Fort Carson boys and The Classical Academy girls' track and field teams, the 2018 Colorado state track and field meet wasn't all that different from the 2017 version.
It was no surprise that the Trojans won the Class 5A boys' title Saturday at Jefferson County Stadium, but they way they got there wasn’t exactly what coach Ben Montoya expected.
The Trojans’ foundation was built on the sprints and jumps, but Jawuan Tate’s win in the discus and a sixth-place finish in the 4x800 relay from James Thomas, Paul Thomas, Daniel Devine and Chance Fabian on Thursday sparked a dominant weekend, as Fountain-Fort Carson finished with an even 100 points, while second-place Cherry Creek totaled 71.
“It started out great on Thursday with unexpected points in the discus and 4 by 8,” Montoya said. “We weren’t expecting that many points to be honest with you.”
That took some pressure off the sprinters and jumpers, as the Trojans’ 4x400 relay team of Jason Ferrell, Deondre Ritter, James Thomas and Jalen Lyon took the track with the team title secured.
The quartet finished as expected, winning 3 minutes, 19.37 seconds.
“At the beginning of this, we knew it was possible,” senior Jason Ferrell said. “We just put everything in God’s hands.”
Ferrell handled the first leg of the Trojans’ winning 4x200 and 4x400 relays and started the sixth-place 4x100 relay. His only other event, the 300 hurdles, didn’t go as planned. An early fall saw Ferrell, who finished his preliminary race with a better time than the eventual finals winning time, finished ninth, not that the Trojans needed the points.
“I could’ve possibly came out a state champion, but you know, things happen,” Ferrell said. “I just shake it off, rub it off and keep moving forward.”
Ferrell was able to shake off the individual disappointment and enjoy the team’s success.
“It feels amazing,” Ferrell said.
The feeling translated into action when the Trojans chanted, danced and mobbed one another in the infield while waiting to be handed their team trophy Saturday evening, a couple days after Thursday’s strong start.
“I said ‘We need to set the tone the first day,’ and they just raised their expectations and level of competition to what I expected them to do,” Montoya said.
“They’re a good group of kids.”
TCA mirrors 2017 finish
TCA earned its trips to Golden Corral after the Titan girls repeated as the Class 3A champions, while the boys were second, just as they were a year ago.
The girls’ 110 points was 24 clear of second-place Lutheran, while the boys were within 6.5 points of Bayfield before heading to the buffet.
“They drink soda and eat things they haven’t been eating,” Titan coach Tim Daggett said.
The strong showing came on the backs of a pair of senior captains.
Claudia Valenzuela was third in the 100, fourth in the 200 and anchored a pair of relays, including Saturday’s 4x200 which went a long way to secure the repeat.
“I probably made a fool of myself a little bit celebrating up in the stands, so exciting,” the TCA coach said.
Valenzuela broke into tears almost immediately after finishing the race.
“Crossing that line, it was just like everything I had worked for these last four years was finally paying off,” she said. “I’m just so proud of my team.”
On the boys’ side, it was Ryan Moen who had a big Saturday. After winning the 3,200 on Thursday, Moen doubled up with a win in the 1,600 after utilizing a gear down the finish he didn’t know he possessed.
“I’ve never had a great kick like that,” Moen admitted. “That was the first time I’ve been able to pull out a race like that.”
Mason Norman finished third in the event to give the Titans 17 points from the race, which was nearly enough to catch Bayfield.
“They had a fantastic meet,” Daggett said. “It was like nickel and dime stuff. It was a couple points here, a couple points there.”
The 1-2 finish should provide quite the dinner conversation.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” Valenzuela said. “My goal was to come out here and just work as hard as I could these last three days to just give my team as much points as i could get them.”
“Of course we wanted to win, but we knew it wasn’t that likely,” Moen said. “We looked at the virtual meet, and it was going to take a lot. All of our guys put in as much effort as possible. We fought as hard as we could, and we’re happy to be where we are.”