LAKEWOOD — Evan Appel was just one of several athletes from three local South Jefferson County Schools who made their mark on May 17 at the Class 5A State Track & Field Championships.
Appel, a junior at Dakota Ridge, took home two state titles over the championship weekend. On May 16, Appel won the 3,200-meter run in a time of 9 minutes, 17.84 seconds. He then grabbed the state title in the 1,600 run a day later with a time of 4:16.31.
“The whole thing felt like a sprint,” Appel said after the 1,600 race. “You either win the championship or you don’t. I had to give it my all. We were all tired from the two-mile and not that fresh. I definitely didn’t think I’d win another state title.”
Another Dakota Ridge runner showed off her talent in the 1,600. Alexa Rogers took third with a time of 5:04.45. On the east side of the track, Rogers decided to drop back a few runners about one lap in.
“It was really windy back on that part of the track and I decided to let them take the windy part of it,” Alexa explained. “It was a really fast race. They were all amazing.”
Alexa’s sister, Natosha Rogers, finished fifth in the race with a time of 5:15.05.
“We’re not used to running with that much competition,” Natosha Rogers said. “It was so much faster than regionals.”
Teammate Paige Lillo did not finish in the top nine but said she really enjoyed getting to run in the state final.
“The pace was just really fast,” Lillo said. “It was a fun experience though.”
It seemed like nothing but fun for the Dakota Ridge girls 400 relay team after they took third place with a time of 49.05 seconds.
Marisa Garcia ran around on the infield yelling, ‘Whoo!’ after her teammates finished hugging and jumping up and down.
“I was just fighting the wind the whole time,” said Garcia, who ran the second leg of the relay.
“It is always neck and neck on that turn,” said teammate Tehdi Hudson, who ran the third leg of the race.
Stephanie Dexter, who ran the first leg, said it was “intense” when the gun went off. Randi Clark, who ran the final leg of the race, said she was not going to let anyone else pass her on that final stretch. The girls celebrated for a long while after their finish.
The same four girls ran the 800 meter relay earlier in the day, but did not finish in the top nine.
The girls 800 medley relay team took fourth place with a time of 1:44.59 to help out the Eagles team, which finished in seventh place overall out of more than 40 teams.
The 3,200 relay team did not finish in the top nine but were happy that teammate Paige Orcutt did not pass out after the race. She seemed overheated and wobbly after her leg of the race and was helped off the track.
“It was pretty emotional today,” said Orcutt, who was running in her final race as a senior. “Plus, it’s about 10 degrees hotter on the track than it is on the grass (infield). I think we gave it everything we had.”
Paige’s sister, Brooke Orcutt, said the handoffs in the medley relay were a little hectic.
“It’s just craziness,” Orcutt said. “There are people in front of you and behind you and cutting you off. You just have to find your way to your next person.”
Katy Carney and Vickey Van Alstine rounded out the 3,200 team.
The Dakota Ridge boys’ 3,200 relay team also did not place in the top nine, but were happy to make it to the finals.
“It was ideal conditions today,” said senior Sean McNeil. “It would be great with no sun, but having no wind is a plus. I think we were just really excited to get here.”
Bryce Wujek, Jimmy Mohrbagher and Chris Barren rounded out the relay team.
Chatfield’s Sam Stratton placed seventh in the 400 with a time of 49.17 seconds. He was the only representative for the Chargers in the state finals.
“In the prelims, I got first in my heat and I didn’t think I’d do that well,” Stratton said. “I’m pretty happy to get to the finals and compete against these guys. I’ve got two more years so the experience is great.”
The sophomore said the final 100 meters was the most intense part of the race.
“It’s like the worst thing you can imagine,” said Stratton, who was running in third when he hit the race’s final leg. “It’s so fast. Plus, all season we had this terrible cold weather and then today having the heat was a little to contend with. Overall, it was awesome to be here in the finals.”
Columbine’s Molly Ramirez took seventh in the 400 with a time of 58.14 seconds. The senior said it was ironic how she normally psyches herself out before a race and doesn’t do well and instead this year she decided to loosen up and just go with the flow.
“Today I was like, ‘Well it’s my senior year and I have nothing to lose,’” Ramirez explained. “With everyone warming up around me you can tell they’re all intense and it’s just that adrenaline of the state meet. It pushes you much harder than you can push yourself.
“I just told myself, ‘Just let it all out’ and I finally placed!”
The last two times Ramirez was in the state meet, she was injured and didn’t make it to the finals.
“I just finally didn’t psyche myself out and it’s my first medal in three trips to state,” she said.
Columbine senior Orenzo Davis took ninth place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.15 seconds.
“There’s a lot of competition here and you just have to do your best,” said Davis, who was also a part of the 400 relay team which finished eighth in a time of 43.34 seconds.
“Orenzo was our fastest guy who came here and ran in the 100 and we lose him next year,” said Phillip Romero, who ran the third leg of the 400 relay. “When we get those times down and we find one more guy next year I believe we can place higher. We’ll miss Orenzo, but with this experience at state and just being sophomores, I think we’ll be back next year.”
Demetrius McDondle and Kevin Richards rounded out the relay team for Columbine.