Gazette Preps 2018 Girls' Track & Field Coach of the Year: Tim Daggett, The Classical Academy

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For the 16th time in his 15-year tenure, coach Tim Daggett helped The Classical Academy hoist a state track & field trophy. The 2018 girls’ team won the program’s 11th state title, tying Mullen for the most girls’ track & field championships won by any school in Colorado.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Daggett said. “The program has been and continues to be a surprising blessing. We have a staff that loves coaching together, and we always seem to find kids who are willing to work and buy into the program. They love each other and they work hard every day.”

Although TCA claimed the 3A state championship by 24 points, Daggett and the Titans were crunching numbers late into Day 3, trying to predict the final outcome.

“I really thought it was going to go back and forth,” Daggett said. “But we don’t make any sort of big deal about winning a state title, even though we’ve won a few. We try to take the pressure off. All we hope for is to walk off the track feeling like we gave our best. And we were able to do that.”

His boys’ team was also tantalizingly close to bringing home a second straight 3A title, but came up just 6.5 points shy.

One of TCA’s biggest moments of the weekend came late on Day 2 of competition, after a majority of the contest spectators had gone home. Senior Erika Willis competed in the 3A pole vault into the night after a lightning delay pushed competition back nearly two hours. Despite strange weather, and with the track illuminated only by the scoreboard, Willis battled top-seeded Hayley Rayburn of Platte Canyon. At 8:30 p.m., Willis had completed her final jump, clearing 12-9 for a 3A state title, breaking her own 2017 meet record by four inches.

“That was really dramatic and so fun,” Daggett said. “It was really back and forth. She wasn’t the favorite and she didn't have the best jump or seed, but she is a tough, tough kid. She was very calm and composed and it was so fun and emotional and a very cool thing to watch.”

The next day, Daggett and the TCA girls’ team rode another wave of emotions as the 4x100 relay team crossed the finish line.

Senior Claudia Valenzuela ran anchor in the 4x100, which claimed state gold in 50.15, beating top-seeded Lutheran by less than 0.15 seconds. As she crossed the finish line, she collapsed into tears.

“That was culmination of a lot of things. Claudia has been our anchor on every relay she has run her whole career,” Daggett said. “That was her ending a career, winning her last race, and loving her teammates.”

Willis, Valenzuela and a host of other seniors capped their final season with a state championship, but for the TCA underclassmen, it’s back to work to bring home another state title.

“We have some talent coming back, for sure,” Daggett said. “But every season is different, with a different set of kids and personalities. But I think we already have a fantastic group of kids who are already talking about working hard this summer. They want it again and they’re motivated.”