State track Day 2: Basalt sophomore Sierra Bower takes second in 3,200 in sprint finish

Allyson Decatur said sophomore standout Sierra Bower had an extra “kick” she could use at the finish, but no one expected her to need it quite like she did in Friday’s 3,200-meter run on Day 2 of the Colorado state high school track and field championships in Lakewood.

“They both took off in a sprint, which is that kick I was talking about Sierra throwing out there. It was probably a stride and a half at the very end that Kaylee closed,” said Decatur, Basalt High School’s track and field coach. “It was beautifully executed. To get a 17-second PR, school record, is beyond outstanding.”

Unfortunately for Basalt’s Bower, it wasn’t quite enough as Classical Academy senior Kaylee Thompson found that extra stride to edge Bower at the finish line and claim the 3A state championship in the 2-mile race. Thompson finished with a time of 10 minutes, 58 seconds, while Bower came in at 10:58.31.

Third place was another 20-plus seconds behind those two.

“I definitely was not expecting it to come down to the last 200 like that,” Bower said. “I was trying to pump myself up a little bit. I did definitely close pretty hard, looking at my splits. She just barely got me at the end.”

While there may be some disappointment in losing by that narrow of a margin, there certainly won’t be any tears shed. Bower’s 10:58.31 shattered her previous best of 11:15.63, which was already the school record. The only other time she has broken the 11-minute mark in the event came at the Arcadia Invitational, held at sea level in California earlier this spring.

It also shows how far Bower has come in a year. As a freshman last spring, she finished a mere 11th in the 3,200 with a time of 12:08.85.

“Just missing the title by that much definitely motivates me a lot,” Bower said. “I’m definitely really happy about it. My time was good; my placement was good. So I can’t really complain.”

Bower, who also was part of Basalt’s school-record breaking 4×800-meter relay team on Thursday, still has the 1,600-meter run to go Saturday. She is seeded sixth in that race with a time of 5:14.32, already a school record. The race starts at 11:10 a.m.

“They both wanted it just as bad, but to graduate without the state championship, being that close, (Thompson) went for it,” Decatur said of Thompson edging Bower. “(Bower) was pleased and we were all extremely pleased. It was about the PR and going sub-11, and coming in second in the state championship is beyond amazing for a sophomore.”

Maley finishes on podium, Bohannan extends record

BHS senior Megan Maley closed out her high school career by finishing seventh in the 3A girls 800-meter run on Friday. She had a time of 2:20.80, a touch slower than her seed time, where she was seeded third.

Maley also competed in the 400 on Thursday, finishing 15th in the prelim, and was part of the record-breaking 4×800 relay team.

“She gave it her all,” Decatur said. “To have her last time on the track as a high schooler, she felt pretty satisfied with it, and I was, as well. I’m proud to have coached her for four years.”

Maley will now head to Scripps College in Claremont, California, where she plans to continue her running career.

“We were reflecting on my favorite moments at dinner. I’m just really happy,” she said. “I’m not quite finished. I know I can keep competing. I’m excited to be on a big college team. I think I still have room to grow.”

Sophomore Katie Bohannan was the other to compete for Basalt on Friday, taking 11th in the pole vault. This was her first season competing in the event and she cleared 8 feet, 6 inches for the first time at state, extending her own school record.

“It was really fun to compete,” Bohannan said. “A great opportunity. I was pretty nervous, but once I did my first warm up I felt really good.”

Basalt will conclude its state meet Saturday with Bower’s mile and the boys 110-meter hurdles final with junior Ben Williams, who qualified ninth on Thursday. That event starts at 9:50 a.m.

“It’s been an exciting, wonderful, fantastic meet all around,” Decatur said. “I’m extremely proud of all these kids. Every single one of them who has competed has competed with their heart and gave it their all.”

Aspen has strong day, led by Quist

Aspen High School had one of the biggest surprises of the day when junior Paige Quist finished fourth in the 3A girls shot put. Seeded only 11th entering the state meet, she threw for 37 feet, 11.5 inches on Friday to break her personal record of 35-10 by a good distance.

“Paige was a huge surprise,” AHS coach James Aldridge said. “Managed to surprise everybody. She was very happy about it and I think that was one of the highlights of the day amongst all the other highlights.”

Those other highlights included sophomore Kendall Clark finishing sixth in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.27, finishing nearly in stride with Basalt’s Maley, who was seventh.

In the girls 800-meter sprint medley, Aspen took a surprising fourth in 1:52.57, beating their PR of 1:54.18. The team went from unlikely to even make finals to finishing fourth at state.

That group is made of Clark, sophomore Zuleika Hanson, junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega and senior Lexi Ferlisi. Alridge was especially excited for Ferlisi, who played on the AHS softball and girls basketball teams, neither of which tallied many wins over her career.

“Lexi Ferlisi, who hadn’t had much success in general in her whole sports career at Aspen, it was nice to see her on the podium and smiling,” Aldridge said. “I’m really happy about what they did.”

Aspen also had its girls 4×400-meter relay team compete in prelims on Friday, finishing 13th in 4:13.51. The time was a PR from the season, but not enough to make it into finals.

Aspen is down to its final two competitors Saturday. Ruiz-Vega will compete in the 100-meter dash finals (10:30 a.m.), while senior Nicholas Galambos will compete in the 1,600-meter race at 11:20 a.m.


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