Girls track: Air Academy's Katie Rainsberger caps incredible career

State track Katie Rainsberger Air Academy

Air Academy's Katie Rainsberger. (Ryan Casey/

LAKEWOOD — If Katie Rainsberger isn’t the greatest girls distance runner in state history, she’s at least in the conversation.

The Air Academy senior proved her place in history again by breaking yet another record, this time the Class 4A 1,600 state meet-best of 4:47.54 by Niwot’s Elise Cranny in 2014. Rainsberger capped off an illustrious career for the Kadets with a winning time of 4 minutes, 45.27 seconds, close to her all-classification record of 4:44.31 from earlier in the season.

The University of Oregon recruit did a clean sweep of every event there is in distance the last two seasons — cross country, 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 3,200 relays. Rainsberger also won the Nike national championship in cross country as a senior. Asked what she’ll remember most from her final state meet at Jefferson County Stadium, Rainsberger said it’ll be a combination of things.

“Winning the 4x8 with my team, my best friend getting second in the 800 (Air Academy senior Kayla Wiitala) and just turning around and seeing her cross the line, and having everyone in the stadium cheering me on in the last lap,” she said. “I just really appreciate the time I’ve had here.”

For all of her accolades, Rainsberger wasn’t peerless in star power Saturday.

Denver East’s Arria Minor won the 100 (11.83), 200 (23.53) and 400-meter dashes (52.50) in 5A as a freshman. Her 400 time came as close as it could to the all-classification record of 52.49 by Ana Holland of Regis Jesuit in 2013. But, hey, she’s got three more years.

“I’m just proud that I got to experience this as a freshman,” she said. “Before the season started, I didn’t really have huge goals. I just wanted to make it into finals and then it was top-3. Then it turned to striving to win. There’s definitely a difference in my goals now.”

Moffat County senior Kayla Pinnt was the queen of the 3A sprints in also winning the 100 (12.22), the 200 (24.77) and the 400 in a state meet record time of 55.01. The Colorado State recruit won seven individual titles in her career.

“I came in here thinking two state titles,” she said. “That’s all I wanted to go home with, so I’m very proud to go home with three.”

Moffat County also won the 400 relay in a time of 50.03 seconds as Pinnt anchored after Emma Samuelson, freshman sister Quinn Pinnt, and Ary Shaffer.

Amazingly enough, the 4A sprints were also swept as Discovery Canyon sophomore Lauren Gale was the champion in times of 12.21, 24.19 and 53.72.

If that’s not enough to convince you of the in-state talent in girls track and field, consider Rock Canyon sophomore Emily Sloan’s 100 and 300 hurdles wins in times of 13.46 and 41.24. Already a two-time 5A champion in the 100 hurdles, Sloan didn’t shatter any records Saturday but sure came close to Carly Lester’s (Rocky Mountain) all-classification best of 41.18 in the 300 hurdles from the 2014 state meet.

Kim sophomore Zariah Mason took down her own 1A 100-meter dash record of 12.72 from last season with a 12.52 this time. She also became the first 1A competitor to ever run under 26 seconds in the 200-meter dash in posting a 25.81.

Peak to Peak has some spectacular freshman distance runners, again showing their strength Saturday in the 1,600 as first-years Anna Shults (5:08) and Quinn McConnell (5:12) placed first and second in 3A.

The Arapahoe 1,600 relay of Anna Hall, Sarah Slack, Julia Hall and Allison Marizza ran an eye-opening 3:46.70, coming close to the Colorado record of 3:45.69 by Littleton in 2011.

Records were set in the field events on the final day of competition as well as Sangre de Cristo senior Sarah Storey broke the 1A long jump record with a mark of 17 feet, 6.5 inches. Eaton junior Tarynn Sieg took care of the 3A state meet record in the shot put in posting a 45-5.

Andrea Willis The Classical Academy pole vault

The Classical Academy's Andrea Willis. (Ryan Casey/

Andrea Willis, a senior pole vaulter for The Classical Academy and the Colorado record holder at 13 feet, 9 inches, vaulted past the 4A state meet record of 13-3 by going 13-4. She also had three attempts at 13-10, but just missed on each. Sophomore sister Erika was the state runner-up at 11 feet, 11 inches.

Raquel Valdez, a Mountain View senior, had a monstrous throw of 148 feet, 6 inches to claim the 4A crown in the discus. Cherokee Trail’s sophomore tandem of Sydnee Larkin (39-8.25) and Aumni Ashby (37-7) swept the top two places in the 5A triple jump.

As for team champions, Fort Collins won their second 5A championship in three years by scoring 81 points. The Lambkins had victories by Audra Koopman (long jump) and Becca Schulte (800).

Arapahoe (69) and Cherokee Trail (68) were in a close battle for second. Fort Collins added to a long-standing track and cross country tradition that is up there with any school in Colorado.

The Classical Academy, fantastic on the track and in the field, tallied 84.5 points to win 4A. Bethany Johns, Teresa Ambuul, Maggie Zielinski and Kendra Frieden won the 1,600 relay for the Titans in a time of 3 minutes, 52.10 seconds.

The Classical Academy has now won nine state championships in girls track and field, second-most in Colorado history behind only Mullen (11). Air Academy was the runner-up with 64.5 points.

Eaton won the 3A team championship with 107.5 points to Moffat County’s 88. The Reds, in going back-to-back in track, clinched their 33rd championship overall in school history.

In 2A, Paonia made history by becoming the fourth girls track and field program to win four state championships in a row. The Eagles became the first to do so since The Classical Academy won five in a row in 3A from 2006-2010. Limon won four in a row in 2A from 2004-07, while Mullen was a seven-time champion in 4A from 1997-2003.

Brianna Van Vleet, Randi Rapke, Shira Woods and Ashley Van Vleet won the 1,600 relay for the Eagles in 4:05.20. Taylor Carsten was the runner-up to Burlington’s Ellie Berry in the discus on Saturday, while Ashley Van Vleet was second to Wray’s Alyssa Valko in the 300 hurdles. More than anything, the 2A field was simply outmatched again by Paonia’s ability to score across all events. They finished with 139 points to Wray’s 76.

Heritage Christian defended their 1A team title from 2015 with 121 points, as Springfield was the runner-up with 69.5. Twin sisters Rebekah and Rachel Rairdon went out with numerous accolades. Rebekah won the 1,600 (5:36) and was second in the 300 hurdles (50.15) on Saturday.