Column: Colorado prep track history in the making
The Aspen Times
LAKEWOOD — History. Right in front of your eyes.
The State Track and Field Championships, true to form, showcased the Colorado high school athletes on a unique stage again last weekend in suburban Denver.
Big schools, little schools and schools in between combined for spectacular performances, state records and instant history.
One of Colorado’s time-honored distance-running records — held by the legendary Melody Fairchild of Boulder High School — was smashed this year by a soccer player. At least she was a soccer player until last fall, when she turned to cross country at the suggestion of a friend.
Now Brie Oakley, a junior from Grandview High School, is a Class 5A state champion after winning the girls 3,200-meter run in 10 minutes, 33.16 seconds, breaking the mark of 10:34.09 set by Fairchild in 1990. Fairchild was the top high school runner in the nation back then.
Oakley was a state runner-up in her first cross country championship meet in the fall.
Oakley came back and won the 1,600-meter run at state later Saturday in spite of a fall on the last lap.
Katie Rainsberger of Air Academy, one of the most decorated middle-distance runners in Colorado prep history, extended her legacy. She won the Class 4A 3,200, approaching the state record. Then two hours later, Rainsberger won the 800-meter title — going away.
She’s going away to the powerhouse track program at the University of Oregon next year.
Rainsberger, whose mother, Lisa, is the last American to win the Boston Marathon, won the Class 4A 1,600-meter in state record time Saturday with 4:45.27.
Remember this name: Arria Minor.
How could you forget?
The freshman from Denver East — a freshman — is the best female sprinter in Colorado. And she may be the best this state has ever generated.
She posted the fastest qualifying times in the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the 400 meters.
And she followed that by winning, in Class 5A, all three sprint titles.
From big school to small school, the Class 1A 4×800 girls relay team from tiny Lake City Community School won the school’s first-ever state championship Friday afternoon, saluted by the appreciative crowd in Lakewood.
Minutes later, the Lake City boys won the 4×800 relay to give the school back-to-back state titles — instant history.
Western Slope standouts showed their mettle at the state championships.
Ian Meek of Montrose, who has won cross-country races in Basalt and Aspen in the past, won the Class 4A boys 3,200 with a stirring finishing sprint.
The Cedaredge boys won the 2A team state title, and Paonia won the 2A girls state championship.
Coal Ridge also was well-represented in the 3A girls at state.
Kayla Pinnt of Moffat County dominated in Class 3A again this year.
She won all three sprint events for the 3A girls — 100, 200 and 400. And she anchored the sprint medley relay team to a state title. Pinnt’s mother was a standout sprinter at Hayden High School.
Pinnt finished her prep track career with seven individual state titles and three relay state titles. The Moffat County sprinter, who is active in rodeo as a barrel racer, will run at Colorado State University next fall.
Vail Christian continues to flex muscles in the pole vault.
Cooper Daniels of the Saints won the Class 2A boys pole vault with a state-record 15 feet, 2 inches, eclipsing a mark set 36 years ago — 36 years.
His teammate Nick Boyne, also a senior, finished third.
Daniels actually has a 15-3 vault to his credit, but it did not come at the state meet.
The previous 2A state record, set in 1984, had been held by Bill Culbreath of West Grand (Kremmling).
Vail Christian’s Taylor Alexander won the girls 2A pole vault state championship, clearing 11-9.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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