Diza-Mbelolo wins 1st-ever state track title

-A A +A

The D’Evelyn track star led a Jaguar team that flexed its muscles at state this weekend at Jeffco Stadium

By Alissa Noe

LAKEWOOD — Going into last weekend’s state track and field meet at Jeffco Stadium, D’Evelyn’s Esther Diza-Mbelolo was a favorite among the 3A girls hurdlers and sprinters.

Although she made the podium in all of her four events with one eighth-place and two ninth-place marks, she won the crown in her first finals event on a rainy Saturday morning.

In the 100-meter hurdles, competition remained close until near the midway point of the race, when Diza-Mbelolo pulled ahead to secure the narrow victory at 15.03 seconds.

It was quite the turnaround from her state track experience last year, when she clipped the last hurdle, and it tripped the girl running next to her.

“I ran the 100 last year in the hurdles, but I got DQed,” she said. “I went into the summer training just wanting to win a title next year, so that’s kept me motivated that I’ve worked so hard for it.”

Given the less-than-optimal weather conditions, she was proud to earn an individual state championship.

“I felt pretty good,” she said. “I was pretty chilly, too.”

In the girls 4x800, a team of Sonja Morin, Grace Thompson, Taylor Haerbig and Katelyn Haerbig finished in second, narrowly beating out third-place Steamboat Springs.

“It feels really good. We really wanted to get top three to be All-State, so it feels really good,” Morin said. “We’ve had a dominant 4x800 all year long, so we really wanted to bring the heat. We were really happy.”

All in all, the Jaguars sent competitors to the top-nine podium 16 times in a variety of events.

More notably, Cullen Flynn earned third place in the high jump, the girls 4x400 got third, and April Sleeman tied for fourth in the high jump.

“I really wanted All-State, which is first, second or third, but I’m still proud of how I did,” Sleeman said. “I still did my best. It was hot out, and jumping one inch off your PR isn’t too bad. It was a good way to finish my high school career, and I know I’ll do better in college.”

The Jaguars saw a number of other podium finishes.

In the 800, distance phenom Lucas Jordan took sixth as Cody Bell and Cullen Flynn placed sixth and ninth in the 300-meter hurdles, respectively. Flynn also earned seventh in the 110 meter hurdles, and Pete Flack finished ninth in the discus.

On the girls’ side, the 800-meter medley team came in seventh, and Laryssa Hamblen took ninth in the 400.

“We have amazing girls and boys on our team,” Diza-Mbelolo said. “I’m just so proud of everyone for being able to make it to state and perform well while we’re here. Everyone’s been so amazing, and we’re just a great team. We’ve gotten so close this year, so I’m just glad that everyone has been able to participate this year.”