LAKEWOOD — Becca Schulte had never toed the line for the 800-meter run at the state track and field championships, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t keep the idea handy in her back pocket.
“I wanted to give it a better shot this year, especially when I saw that no one had run super fast yet,” the Fort Collins senior said. “I was like, ‘This could be mine.’ It’s kind of crazy looking up and seeing the time.”
Schulte, the defending 400-meter state champion in Class 5A, was the No. 3 seed for the two-lapper on Friday at Jefferson County Stadium. Her season best of 2 minutes 15.12 seconds was within reach of Dakota Ridge’s Cayli Hume at 2:14.33.
“The first lap I just tried to stay at the front of the pack,” Schulte said. “It was a little faster than what I was expecting and what I had run in the past, but it’s the state meet. I was just trying to stay there.”
The seasoned veteran, arguably Colorado’s most versatile big-school standout, started to separate from the leaders on the back stretch of the final lap.
“Then Hannah from Fairview started to come up on the outside, so I had to start picking it up,” she explained. “Then once I hit the 200 I knew it was time to go, get around that turn as fast as I could and finish that straight.”
With four competitors separated by a mere 1.20 seconds, the one with the best closing speed turned the last curve and finished the home straight just ahead of the group. Schulte’s winning time of 2:11.62 was enough to hold off Hume (2:12.07), Madison Mooney (2:12.43) and Hannah Freeman (2:12.83).
Schulte’s 10 points in the event were critical for the team race between likely Fort Collins, the favorites and 2014 champions, and Cherokee Trail, the defending champions.
Schulte is also a top-four seed in the finals of both the 200 and 400-meter dashes. Denver East freshman Arria Minor, who came close to state records in both on Thursday at 23.42 and 52.80, is the No. 1 seed.
The second day of the state meet heated up in a number of events, but especially so for the 800. The race has a way of captivating the crowd — plenty of speed, tactics, and toughness all play a role in the physical and psychological challenges that come with the event.
With all five classifications going back-to-back during the afternoon session, Jeffco Stadium was alive after Shining Mountain Waldorf senior Jordan Cherin ran way under the 1A state meet record of 1:57.86.
“Before the race I had planned to start off fast,” he said. “I went out a couple seconds too fast. When Eric (Enriquez-Acosta) passed me I was already more tired than I was expecting to be. All I was thinking was that I had to stay with him. If I gave him a gap he would just blow me away.”
Enriquez-Acosta, the Idalia junior who ran away from Cherin for the 2015 title and record time, passed Cherin with about 250 meters to go. But he never let him get away and eventually passed him back while rolling to a time of 1:54.83.
The senior, who hopes to walk-on to the track team at Baylor University, had designs on his first state championship but the time caught him by surprise.
“I wasn’t expecting to run that fast,” Cherin said. “I still don’t know what to think about it, but it’s kind of unbelievable to me.”
Also the No. 1 seed in the 400 with the only 1A time under 50 seconds this season at 49.53, Cherin will have a busy Saturday with the 100 and 200 finals as well.
As for other 800 champions, Bree-ann Carwin of Baca County (2:23.58) won 1A girls, Katy Parsons of Hotchkiss (2:18.91) won 2A, Quinn McConnell of Peak to Peak won 3A (2:16.02), and Katie Rainsberger of Air Academy won 4A (2:09.97).
McConnell is part of a stellar freshman group for the Pumas. Rainsberger, if she wins the 1,600 on Saturday, will complete a distance state championship sweep in cross country, the 3,200 relay, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 junior and senior years in 4A. Her time of 10:23.24 in the 3,200 on Friday was 32 seconds ahead of runner-up Lexi Reed of D’Evelyn.
Ben Kelley, a sophomore at Soroco, shattered a record of his own in 2A with a winning 1:55.61 800 to oust Paul Roberts of Lyons (1:58.08). Jared Keul of Manitou Springs (1:55.70) was the 3A winner, while Durango’s David Moenning (1:52.26) and Poudre’s Henry Raymond (1:51.97) were the big-school champions in 4A and 5A.
On a day where a number of state records fell, Roberts added to his legacy in the 2A 3,200 with a state meet record time of 9:26.17. The Cedaredge girls 400 relay broke their own 2A state record of 49.71 from 2015 with a 49.51 in prelims. Faith Christian’s Sarah Yocum set a new 3A standard in the 300 hurdles with a prelims time of 42.45, while Discovery Canyon’s sprint medley relay (Ayannah Lang, Jenny Hall, Lianna Ubungen, Lauren Gale) shattered the 4A record with a winning 1:44.54.
The Springfield girls (Audrey Rau, Jordan Reed, Jayci Westphal, Tatelyn Lasley) broke the 1A record in placing first in the 800 relay in 1:48.27. Both Valor Christian and The Classical Academy shattered the 4A record in the same relay in both prelims and finals as Valor’s Tess Boade, Megan Maccagnan, Bianca Lopez and Gianna Tesone won in 1:39.80. TCA went 1:40.28 for second.
In the 2A boys pole vault, both Cooper Daniels of Vail Christian (15-2) and Brandon Hinkle of Yuma (14-11) launched past the 1984 record of 14 feet, 9 inches held by Bill Culbreath of West Grand. Taylor Alexander, also of Vail Christian, cleared 14 feet, 9 inches to shatter the girls all-time best.
Classification records were also broken by Brianna Van Vleet of Paonia (2A long jump), Trent Loeffler of Arickaree (1A triple jump), and Jenna McKinley of Sangre de Cristo (1A shot put).
Ian Meek of Montrose won a memorable 4A 3,200 by two seconds over Tanner Norman of TCA 9:32-9:34, while Fountain-Fort Carson boys blitzed the 5A 800 relay field in 1:25.96.
The state track and field championships resume at Jeffco Stadium at 9:30 am on Saturday with the finals of the 100 hurdles in every classification.