Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald
LAKEWOOD – Rain pelted down on the track at Jeffco Stadium on Saturday morning.
Steady, cold rain.
Michelle Simmons of Ignacio High School stepped into the starting blocks for the 100-meter finals at the CHSAA Class 2A Track and Field State Championships.
“It seemed like it started coming down harder once we got in the blocks,” Simmons said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and my heart was really beating.”
The distracting downpour drew a false start two lanes over from Simmons.
“They had us stand up after the (false start), and then it started raining harder,” Simmons said with a brilliant smile that belied the difficult weather conditions the sprinters had endured.
“But once you start, you don’t notice the rain. ... I was so pumped,” Simmons said.
It showed. She finished seventh in the Class 2A 100-meter finals, moving up two places from her ninth-best quaifying time.
“I’m excited to be in the finals. This is a whole new experience ... just getting into the finals,” said the Ignacio junior, who earned her second trip to the podium at the 2012 state championships: Simmons finished fifth in the Class 2A high jump Thursday.
Day 1 weather was hot and sunny – more like the Texas state championships. Day 3 weather was more like the Oregon state championships.
“Why?” Simmons asked. “Why, out of all the days, the 100 finals has to be on the worst?”
The state championship meet, in fact, was delayed before it even started Saturday morning. Lightning and heavy rain forced the evacuation of the stadium for a half-hour before the first event could begin.
When the meet finally started, Simmons posted a time of 13.20 seconds in the 100 meters.
All of the runners in the finals ran slower in the rain than they did in the sunny qualifying round.
Kathryn New, a junior from Sangre de Cristo, won in 12.90. Natalie Neece, a senior from John Mall High School in Walsenburg, was second (12.92).
“Next year ... I want to get back next year,” said Simmons, a three-sport standout at Ignacio. She’s the daughter of Kelly Herrera and Melvin Baker.
Simmons enjoyed the support of her full team Saturday, with the Bobcats and their coaches gathered along the fence at the finish line. As the only Ignacio athlete competing Saturday, Simmons was the singular focus of their attention.
They watched and cheered and ignored the rain, as did Simmons, who also edged regional rival Lexi Atkinson of Dolores (she finished eighth).