Jeffco Stadium continues to be the nucleus of track and field in Colorado

Jeffco Stadium will host all classifications of the State Track & Field Championships for the ninth straight year. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — For the ninth straight year, Jeffco Stadium will host all classifications of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s state track and field meet.

According to Ezra Paddock, Jeffco Public Schools Manager of Stadium Operations, the idea to have one site for all classifications came from incoming CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green, who was an assistant commissioner in charge of track and field when the plan was hatched a decade ago.

“Working with CHSAA, we developed a plan to be able to host such a large event,” Paddock said. “Every year we meet to make any adjustments to keep this event the best that it can be.”

Jeffco Stadium had hosted the largest classifications for more than two decades and the lower classifications were primarily held in Pueblo.

“I believe the biggest reason for the success is twofold,” said Jim Thyfault, Executive Director of Athletics for Jeffco Public Schools. “One being the relationship we have built with CHSAA over the years. Our stadium management, Ezra Paddock and John Sears (Jeffco Stadium Manager), are the best. CHSAA knows what type of product they will get when they come to Jeffco. Secondly, the support we have received from Jeffco leadership to allow us to make Jeffco Stadium into a first-class high school facility.”

In 2009, the move was made to have a 3-day state track meet with the top track athletes from across Colorado descend to 6th Avenue and Kipling Street.

Jeffco Stadium worker Bryce Selk paints a logo on the discus area May 16. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We have a creative and dedicated crew that always tries to give the stadium a special touch so it will be memorable for all the athletes and spectators that attend the 3-day meet,” Paddock said.

It takes several days to prepare for the event. All Jeffco stadium managers and workers come in Sunday, the day after the Jeffco League Championships — this year on Mother’s Day — to gear up to get Jeffco Stadium ready.

In the end, it’s all worth it for Jeffco Stadium manager John Sears.

“The most rewarding part of hosting the state track meet is watching all of Colorado’s best athletes compete for three days straight,” Sears said. “It is an honor that they deem Jeffco Stadium a suitable place for such a high intensity meet. It really is one of the most premiere high school track facilities in the country. What we do, could not happen without the immense support of the (Jeffco Public Schools) district administrators.”

Sears is a homegrown product of Jeffco. He graduated from D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School in 2005 and started at Jeffco Stadium as a seasonal worker shortly after graduating high school. He was hired in February 2007 as the stadium manager at Trailblazer Stadium. In 2012 he took over the helm at Jeffco Stadium.

Pomona senior Semaye Johnson, left, could contend for the title in the 5A girls 100-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“What I think makes Jeffco Stadium special would be the history,” Sears said. “Jeffco Stadium was built in 1959 and it holds a nostalgic feeling to athletes and coaches who competed there years ago. I hear many stories from workers and parents all the time about individual games being played or just where they watched.”

While Jeffco Stadium is abuzz with track during the spring hosting more than 20 track meets from March to the season-ending state meet in May, it’s the site of some of the premier football action in the state that brings out the crowd in the fall.

One of the most memorable events Jeffco Stadium hosted recently was in 2011. Both Class 5A football state semifinals games — Pomona vs. Lakewood and Grandview vs. Columbine — were played on a Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

“It was one of the cooler event weekends we have had,” Paddock said.

The biggest facelift at Jeffco Stadium came in 2005 when the west side of the stadium’s press box, restrooms and concession building were rebuilt. The future desire is to have the east side of the stadium also improved. It was also the first time in more than 30 years a state track meet wasn’t at Jeffco Stadium because of the remodeling.

Pomona is the defending 5A boys track and field team champions. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Even though the west side of the stadium saw major improvements several years ago, the east side is in desperate need of attention,” Thyfault said. “We are hoping within a few years to be able to replace locker rooms, add and update restrooms and enhance the concession area. It’s like any other building that ages over the years, it needs attention in order to keep it a first-class facility.”

Sears would like to see Jeffco Stadium possibly host some college track meets in the future and believes it would be possible to host a state championship football game. Jeffco Stadium was the site for the 1997 5A state title game between Jeffco rivals Arvada West and Bear Creek.

Interesting facts about Jeffco Stadium

  • Parts of the 1992 movie ‘Ladybugs’ was filmed at Jeffco Stadium.
  • The Denver Foxes, men’s professional soccer team, played home games at Jeffco Stadium.
  • People could watch movies from the east stands on Friday night when the West Drive In was still in business near the stadium.
  • In 1995, Jeffco Stadium was the only Jeffco Public Schools district football stadium after Reed Street Stadium closed. Jeffco Stadium was the site of more than 60 games during the 1995 football season. Trailblazer Stadium opened in 1996 to alleviate the number of games.
  • Jeffco Stadium installed a new digital video scoreboard a few years ago that not only displays track results, but is used during the football season with a live video feed for spectators.

“The addition of the digital scoreboard was instrumental in taking the state meet, as well as our own league meets, to a new level,” Thyfault said. “Instantaneous times flashing up on the scoreboard have been a big hit. It’s also good for advertisers, as most eyes go right to the scoreboard when a race is completed. CHSAA knows we are always looking for ways to improve the facility.” 

NOTE: This is the final part of a four-part series this school year on Jeffco Public Schools’ stadium venues — North Area Athletic Complex, Lakewood Memorial Field, Trailblazer Stadium and Jeffco Stadium.

The elite track and field athletes from across the state will descend on Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)