The opening day of the Colorado High School Activities Association State Track and Field Championships saw three La Plata County athletes come away with third-place finishes.
With 16 points, the DHS boys stood tied for third place in Class 4A along with Longmont after the first of the three-day event. Niwot is first with 34 points, while Centaurus is second with 26.
In the girls standings, DHS is fifth with 15 points. Niwot also leads the girls team competition in 4A with 35 points. Palmer Ridge is second with 17.
DHS junior Sydney Flores placed third in the girls discus throw. Her long throw came in her third out of six tosses, as she sent the disc 120-feet, 10 inches. After the third throw, she was in second place behind only favorite Giavonna Meeks of Northfield, who had two fouls in a row after her initial throw of 122-04.
But Meeks would regroup, and her fifth throw soared 141-02 for the winning measurement. Battle Mountain’s Augustine Hancock also would pass Flores with a fifth throw of 125-02.
“I felt super good after I hit my mark of 120,” Flores said. “I was a little bit disappointed I couldn’t (set a personal record). I was almost battling myself about it. But I feel confident and really good about the place I made competing against super talented girls. When I knew I had gotten third place, I was honestly very happy with the position.”
Flores believes she has a lot more room to grow going into her senior year next year. With her personal record at 121-03, she said she plans to target the DHS record of 126-10 next season.
“I feel confident about next year and am happy I have another year to compete, especially after not being able to compete last year,” Flores said.
Durango’s Levi Tichi also placed third for DHS, with his bronze coming in the boys pole vault. He cleared 13-06. The win went to Thompson Valley’s Becker Ell with a 4A state meet record height of 16-feet. Kyle Varra of Centaurus was second at 13-09.
Tichi’s 13-06 is his new personal record.
“Over the season, my goal had been to clear 12 feet. Then I realized, I actually need to put my goals a lot higher,” Tichi said. “When I got here, I knew the top competitors would be vaulting 16 feet, 15 feet, so competing with this better competition forced me to do things I don’t do at regular meets all season like going completely upside down and things I am not comfortable with to reach that next height.
“What I like about the pole vaulting community is we are all pushing each other like one team, whereas in the two-mile, those guys kind of hate each other and are elbowing each other. In pole vault, everyone is putting the bar up and it’s like, ‘Thanks for pushing me.’ It’s really fun.”
In the Class 3A girls high jump, Bayfield’s Nykole Meshew leaped onto the podium with a height of 5-02. That was only two inches behind winner Sierra Haberman of Jefferson Academy and second-place Marin Simons of Coal Ridge.
DHS junior William Knight claimed fifth in the boys 4A discus throw. His fifth throw went 150-01. Thomas Jefferson’s Avery Shunneson set a 4A state meet record with a throw of 192-06 to win the state title. Wyatt Pruce of Pueblo West was second at 166-00, Alec Falk of Palmer Ridge was third at 156-08, and Pueblo East’s Xavier Freeman was fourth at 151-04. Trace Hobbs of Eagle Valley rounded out the podium at 145-04 for sixth.
Knight set a new personal record in three of his throws, with his fifth-place mark his new best.
“I was just trying to relax as much as possible. A lot of times this season, I had gotten frustrated. That just causes you to tense up and not throw well,” Knight said. “I was out there to compete with myself and my previous distances, and I felt relaxed in the ring today, so that helped.”
Knight will compete again in the shot put Saturday. He said he knows he can throw it 50 feet at state to improve upon his current PR of 49-07.
The Durango girls 4x800-meter relay team of Abby Fehr, Tea Forest, Willow Lott and Angela McManus would also secure a sixth-place finish for DHS in a time of 9 minutes, 56.90 seconds. The race was won by Niwot’s Lucca Fulkerson, Mia Prok, Stella Vieth and Madison Shults, who combined to run in 9:22.62, which was 10 seconds faster than second-place Battle Mountain.
In the girls pole vault, Durango had another podium placer in Halle Moore. She was able to clear 9-09. The win went to Silver Creek’s Megan Kelleghan, who set a 4A state meet record with a height of 13-04.50.
In the boys, 3,200-meter run, Durango’s Paul Knight would finish ninth in 9:32.98 to earn the Demons one team point. The race win went to Zane bergen of Niwot, who crossed the line in 9:18.78 to win by a little more than three seconds in front of teammate Simon Saia.
Also for the DHS boys in the 3,200, Damian Frausto ran to 12th in 9:39.14, and Land Lambert was 13th in 9:41.55.
Those three Demons plus Jack Lootens ran the boys 4x800 relay and placed seventh in 8:17.85 to earn three team points. Niwot’s squad of Bergen, Joaquin Herrera, Grayden Rauba and Curtis Volf won in 7:59.25 to beat Longmont by more than four seconds.
Many more finals will be contested Friday with more Class 2A and 3A action for Bayfield and Ignacio athletes.
Flores also will be back Friday morning in the shot put.
“My PR last week put me second in the state. I just want to go in respecting my opponents, but I feel good about it,” Flores said. “Our whole team is super prepared and confident, and I think everyone performed well. The Durango team showed up today.”