Aspen’s Severy captures gold at state track meet |

Aspen’s Severy captures gold at state track meet

Todd Hartley

Aspen High School track star Jon Severy, the defending 3A state champion in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs, came within 200 yards of defending both titles over the weekend at the 3A State Track and Field Championships in Pueblo. But a Front Range phenom overtook Severy down the stretch in the 1600, leaving the Skier star to settle for the one gold and one silver.

The meet started out as expected for Severy, the odds-on favorite in both events, as he cruised to victory in Friday’s 3200. Severy set the Colorado schoolboy record in the event (9:23.78) last month in Provo, Utah, and was bidding to better that time in Pueblo. His winning time of 9:25.49 fell short, but nevertheless set a new 3A state meet record by more than 12 seconds. Severy won the race by 16 seconds over second-place finisher Brett Schoolmeester of Denver Christian after leading from wire to wire. Faith Christian’s Ben Payne was third, and Severy’s teammate, Michael Otte, also posted an all-state time, finishing seventh in 10:07.78.

“I feel great,” said Severy, who was forced to miss the 1999 Colorado 3A cross country championships in the fall after being sidelined by a mysterious virus. “I took it out a little fast. I’ve never raced Schoolmeester before. He’s a great runner. I felt him on my back for the first mile.”

Severy’s words about his foe would seem eerily prescient on Saturday in the 1600 as Schoolmeester, a sophomore, passed the Aspen senior with 200 meters remaining and held on for the win.

Running in what he admitted was not his strongest event, Severy led the race for three and a half laps and locked a personal record time of 4:23.51. But with just half a lap to go, Schoolmeester started his kick, passing Severy in the turn, and then held off the hard-charging Skier down the home stretch to win with a time of 4:21.19.

Josh Stone of Falcon finished third, and Basalt’s Drew Schiller also landed in the state’s top 10 with a 10th-place time of 4:44.93.

“This is a huge deal,” said an elated Schoolmeester after the race. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid. Jon’s a great runner, so this is like a dream come true for me. I’ve been watching him run since he was a freshman.”

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Severy. “I thought I had broken away, but he had better leg speed than me.”

Severy increased his lead over the field in each of the first three laps and seemed to have the race well in hand.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t think he’d let me go,” said Schoolmeester. “I thought he had me.”

“When he picked it up, I thought he was on a surge and I’d have more time,” said Severy. “I knew when he passed me he was at full momentum, and I thought I could pass him down the stretch, but he kept it up.”

The loss to Schoolmeester ends Severy’s high school 1600 career on somewhat of a down note, but he will get another crack at breaking his own 3200 record next week at an invitational meet in Phoenix. For now, though, the three-time state champion will just have to content himself with the things that went right and with his full recovery from the virus that cost him the state cross country title last fall.

“It felt good to be healthy again,” said Severy. “I wanted to get it all back. I won the two miles (3200), so I’ll have to settle for that.”

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