LAKEWOOD – Arria Minor has asserted such a dominance that her silver finish in the 400-meter state track finals on Saturday was surprising to many in the stadium.
No mind, though.
It’s already squelched from memory.
The Denver East junior went on to win the Class 5A 200 and anchored her team victory in the 4x100 for her third gold at the state track and field meet at Jefferson County Stadium as Colorado’s fastest girl rebounded from an earlier slipup that saw her come short of individual gold for the first time in her career.
“I can definitely shift my focus pretty well,” Minor said. “I was totally focused on the 200. The 400 didn’t exist to me at that moment.”
Minor began the final day with a win in the 100 (11.51 seconds) before her streak of seven individual golds at state was ended in silver. The junior said her hamstrings tightened up with 50 meters to go in the 400 as Grandview’s Lily Williams swooped from behind and outstretched Minor by .09 seconds in 53.85.
Minor said it was the first time she’d ran a 400 in Colorado and didn’t win.
“It’s definitely humbling,” Minor said. “It’s good to have those kinds of moments. They hurt a lot, especially on such a big stage in front of the whole state. It’s tough, but it’s good.”
Minor had set the state record in the 400 (51.92) to go along with a state-best time in the 200 (22.89) in preliminaries Thursday. After her runner-up place in a much colder and wetter 400 finals, the speedster cleared her mind and went on to blur past the field in the 200 (23.60) and 4x100 (47.10) for her ninth state title.
For Minor, it was all about moving forward.
“It’s always the next thing,” Minor said. “It’s never living in the past. In two hours state will be just another meet and I’m focused on Great Southwest.”
Also claiming three golds on the day, Discovery Canyon senior Lauren Gale made her emphatic return from hip surgery to the top of the state podium with wins in the 4A 100 (11.79), 200 (24.05) and 400 (54.23).
“I’m truly happy,” Gale said. “It took a long time to get back.”
The Canadian — who moved to Colorado in 2015 — marveled at her first state meet two years ago, sweeping the same three events she did Saturday. The star-made sophomore, however, became the hard-luck junior that winter when X-rays found she’d been running with a torn labrum.
“Yeah, not fun,” she said.
Following surgery and a few months of physical therapy, Gale admittedly returned too soon and ran at state as junior. She took two silvers but suffered through pain throughout.
Since then, she’s worked to get her endurance back — even electing to join the school’s JV swim team in the winter. It wasn’t until these last few weeks, though, that Gale said she finally felt like she was where she wanted to be.
“It was only two meets ago that I finally ran 54 in the 400 — and I was like ‘Ah, that only took a year-and-a-half to get,’” the Colorado State commit said. “But honestly just the prelims at state were fast for me and I was super surprised. … That gave me a whole lot of confidence.”
Rock Canyon’s Emily Sloan had done a pretty good job keeping her mind free of her mishap in last year’s 300 hurdles on Saturday.
She was sent a stark reminder in the blocks of the moment she tripped on a hurdle, and ended up finishing second as a result.
“It was out of my head until the announcer was like ‘state runner-up, lane five,’” Sloan said. “But that kind of gave me motivation.”
Sloan made amends with a win in the 5A 300 (41.42) and added her fourth straight gold in the 100 hurdles (13.59) to wrap up her high school career. She will head to Oregon next season.
“I feel relieved,” she said.
On Friday, Sloan broke the 300 hurdles state record with a time of 40.60 in prelims. Her friend and club teammate, Anna Hall, had held the record for a brief time Friday with a prelim mark of 40.76.
The Valor Christian junior won both 4A hurdle events (14.23, 42.67) on the final day to go along with her gold in the long jump (18 feet and 9.75 inches).
“With running that (record time) yesterday, today was just about getting that place and helping my team get points,” Hall said. “With this weather, it wasn’t likely to PR.”
Team winners included Cherokee Trail (5A), Valor Christian (4A), The Classical Academy (3A), Highland (2A) and Shining Mountain (1A).