Moving up from Class 1A to 2A certainly proved to be a challenge for the Simla boys and girls track teams this season. Yet, the Cubs of coach Shane Zimmerman can still be pleased with their efforts in the May 18 state track meet at Lakewood's Jefferson County Stadium.
Lyons overwhelmed the boy's competition scoring 142.5 points. Telluride finished second with 60 points, followed by Hotchkiss in third with 56. In the girls team competition, Paonia nipped runner-up Akron 87-86, while Hotchkiss once again finished in third with 79.
Indeed, the competition was also tough on Kiowa, coached by Katie Trenda. As it turned out, the Simla girls scored 18 points while the boys only had eight. The Kiowa boys scored seven points, the girls only four and neither team was able to come away with an individual or relay championship.
Helping to lead the way for Simla was Jake Erickson, who placed sixth in the 3,200 meters and eighth in the 1,600. Cody Norris led the Cubs in the field events with his eighth-place finish in the triple jump.
“I think I did all right, but this is only the second meet I've had this year with this kind of competition,” said Erickson, who ran 10:06 in his 3,200. “I love running in the morning and that helped today. I tried to keep up and kept on pace with my plan for the race, staying with the guy in second for a while. The leader just put too much distance between us.
“This is the second meet all year that I've had this kind of competition, and we've had a lot of bad weather,” said Erickson, who ran 4:37.13 in his 1,600. “I was in the top six on the final leg and dropped off to my eighth-place finish. I got off hard and at first was surprised as fast I was going on the first two laps. I just tried to maintain on my position and to keep my pace and focus. I just didn't want to give up.”
A scratch on his fifth attempt in the triple jump cost Norris a higher finish.
“It was fun being able to come to state and compete,” said Norris, who leaped 40 feet, 5 inches. “The key was to stay strong and stay tall in my jumps and use my speed to get to the board.”
The coach was proud of his team.
“It was tougher moving up this year from 1A to 2A, but the kids stepped up and did a fine job,” Zimmerman said. “Jake was strong in that tough field in his events and Kenzie Mitchell was also in a very strong field of competitors for the girls. I was really pleased and it's been an interesting and testing season.”
Jessica George was a key May 18 for the Simla girls. She finished fifth in the 100 meters with a time of :12.9 and helped pace the Cubs to a fourth-place finish in the 800 relay. She was joined on the relay quartet by Brett Smith, Kenzie Mitchell and Sam Kaatz as they ran 1:49.66.
Smith also ran on both relays and felt pretty good with the overall efforts. The Cubs were also joined by Tanna Boyle in their 1,600 relay effort.
It was a tough go for Kiowa on both sides, boys and girls. The Indians had their best finish in the girls competition from Beth Campbell in the 400 and Marcus Anthony in the 300 hurdles.
Campbell finished sixth with a time of :59.29 in the 400, a race won by record-setting Jennifer Celis of Hotchkiss in :56.34.
“I'm just so happy to be here,” Campbell said. “I just had a great start and got my PR with my first race under one minute. I'm so glad that it finally happened and that I can stand on the winner plate form with all these wonderful athletes.”
Anthony was also pleased with his visit to the winner's podium.
“I was excited more than really being nervous,” Anthony said. “My time was OK today, but there certainly is a lot of great competition here at state. I put in a lot of hard work and just making state was a confidence booster.
The Kiowa boys were able to come through with a fifth in the 800 relay with a time of 1:34.88. The race was won by Lyons in 1:31.16. However, the Indians came up short in their attempt to reach the 1,600 relay final. Carrying the baton in the 800 was Joe Jantz, Ben Sherer, Anthony and Jack Thomas.
The Kiowa girls finished 11th in the Sprint Medley relay qualifying, not making the final. It was an event eventually won by Wiley (1:56.09). The Indians were paced in the event by Madi Zelinski, Beth Campbell, Alicia Neighbors and Tabitha Miner.
“It was really exciting and we came on strong,” Zelinski said. “But we would not have qualified had we run our best time of the season. All of us were nervous and wore out. This just took a lot of energy.”