Skye had been the limit, for sure, but Woodland Park’s collective hope to add – at all other Class 3A challengers’ expense – to a shining high jump legacy certainly became all the more, well, Sonny last Wednesday.
Bayfield senior Crosby Edwards knows this.
Competing at the Colorado Springs Metro South League meet, sophomore Sonny Ciccarelli concretely positioned himself as the upcoming CHSAA State Track & Field Championships’ No. 1 seed in the specialty by clearing a whopping 6-feet, 9-inches, shattering by two inches Woodland Park’s record set by his older brother Skye, a two-time state champion now competing for NCAA Division II University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Again, Edwards knows this and nonetheless eagerly awaits his chance to topple the on-paper king when the third-day showcase inside Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood gets underway at roughly 11 a.m. Saturday.
“Of course I’m shooting for it. You set high goals for yourself,” Edwards said after Monday night’s practice inside Wolverine Country Stadium. “We’ll see when we get there. Ciccarelli’s going to be really hard. That 6-09 mark’s something, and hopefully, I’ll be able to push myself just by competitive nature alone.”
Seeded highly thanks to a 6-03 hop recorded at Mancos’ late-May Blue Jay Invitational, Edwards’ chief competition will also include Craig-based Moffat County sophomore Evan Atkin (also owning a 6-03) and Bennett’s Caden Church (best of 6-04).
Another outgoing senior, Church had placed second behind Skye Ciccarelli in 2019, maxing out at 6-03 before scratching thrice at 6-04 trying to keep pace with the premier Panther. A then-sophomore, Edwards, finished 14th with a best clearance of 5-11 (he’d cleared the initial 5-09 minimum on his first attempt) before three misses at 6-01.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” said Edwards of the intensity of the state meet. “I really would have liked a little more experience last year, because sophomore year when I went was terrifying. I was shaking, just about the only underclassman there and it was absolutely terrifying.
“At those higher heights, once you get above your head it’s a completely different form, and I’m not exactly the tallest man. So, it makes it more difficult, but I’m at the point where I’m confident enough in myself to where I’m ready to go and jump my best.”
Still fighting an ongoing battle against what he described as “shin splints on crack,” Edwards – whose academic pursuits, at the least, will continue this fall in Golden at Colorado School of Mines – will look to improve on a sixth-place 5-09 logged at last week’s Grand Junction Tiger Invitational, at which BHS’ boys placed ninth.
“Didn’t jump as well as he usually does, but I’m looking forward to state and seeing how high he can go,” said BHS head coach Josh Walton. “He’s cleared 6-03 this season, so I think he has really good potential of getting on the podium.”
“In Mancos, I think I could have went 6-04, 6-05, but the problem was as soon as I hit 6-03, I just started losing all power and it was hard to get higher,” Edwards said. “It’s really difficult in an event where I expend a lot of power on one (plant) leg. Balancing rest and practice has really been the key; I haven’t been focusing on anything else besides making sure I’m all healed, and when healed, I’m out here working as hard as I can until I feel like my leg is no longer ready to jump anymore.
“To either win or take runner-up, even if those are lofty goals, those are what I’m setting and whatever happens, happens. At this point, I’m ready for whatever happens.”
SHIELDS PSYCHED: Established distance runner Zeb Shields will compete at state in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. In the former, the senior’s sixth-place 4:36.98 at the Tiger Invite easily withstood other last-chance hopefuls’ attempts, while in the latter a fourth-place effort inside heat-trapping Ralph Stocker Stadium truly declared his intent to excel inside Jeffco.
“Zeb dropped four seconds off his mile time, and then he dropped 25 seconds off his two-mile and went 10:23. That was impressive,” said Walton.
Intermountain League cross-country/track rival Josh Medina of Alamosa is the No. 1 seed in the 1,600 (Shields is the No. 12) thanks to an outstanding 4:18.81 clocked just this past weekend at the St. Vrain Invitational in Longmont, and is also No. 1 in the 3,200 (with Shields again the No. 12) thanks to a 9:36.33 recorded last month in Lamar.
The 3,200 will be contested at about 10:30 a.m. Friday. The 1,600 is set for 2:55 p.m. the next afternoon.
“It’s kind of nice, honestly,” Shields said, of qualifying in multiple events. “In (state) cross-country, you just get one chance, and if you have a bad race you’re out. But if I have a bad race this year (at state track), I’ve got a shot in something else.”
READIED RELAY: Shields’ itinerary will also include running a leg on a 4x400 relay glued together only within the past week, but which earned a coveted top-18 status by laying down a 3:38.03 in Grand Junction, good enough for sixth place at the Tiger and, at the time, Class 3A’s 17th-fastest effort.
Comprised of Shields, Landon Kennedy, Bradley Foutz and Deegan Barnes (plus alternate Devin Avery, who earned his role Monday night in a run-off rendering him happy, but beyond nauseous), BHS’ quartet and all others will target top-seeded Resurrection Christian, owners of a classification-leading 3:29.68.
“Landon had an insane day,” said Walton, alluding to Kennedy’s all-around contributions at the Tiger. “He ran the open (400) and got third overall, ran that in 52.46 seconds. Then, about an hour and a half later, after cooling off for quite a bit, we had him run the 4x4 and he ran 52.47 in his split!. We were very impressed with how he performed.”
“Last week was our first week we’ve ever had these four people together,” Shields said. “So it’ll be interesting because who knows how much we’ll improve? We’ve never done this before.”
The 4x400 preliminaries are set for approximately 4:13 p.m. Friday.
ADDITIONALLY: Kennedy’s aforementioned effort in the 400-meter dash was good enough to earn Bayfield another spot at the state championships, but the junior will have to survive inclusion in the Day 1 event’s second preliminary heat (tentative start time 7:28 p.m.) featuring overall No. 1 seed Sylas Chambers, owner of a 50.41 season-best, of Frontier Academy.
Unfortunately, Kennedy ended up an outsider in the long jump, with his 19-11 best at the early-May Mancos Early Bird falling a quarter of an inch short of Coal Ridge senior Moises Contreras’ qualifier.
Despite heaving a personal-record, fifth-place 41-6.75 in the shot at the Tiger Invite, senior Kaden Barnes was another near-miss for the Wolverines; Lutheran sophomore Keaton Reiman earned the 18th and final State spot with a 41-10.