Grand Junction In less than the amount of time it takes to snap the fingers, a track runner's goal of making state can be dashed or realized.
Steamboat Springs senior Ian Ramsay has been on either end. Last year, he missed qualifying for the Class 4A 1,600 meters by .03 of a second. This year, with a time of 4:35.03, he slipped in under the mandatory cut-off time by the same slim margin.
"That was my best time ever," Ramsay said with a hard-earned smile.
The top three place-winners in the Class 4A Regional Finals automatically qualify for the state track meet next weekend in Denver. When Ramsay crossed the finish line in fourth during the 1,600-meter finals Friday, immediately attention shifted to his time in hopes that he could reach state via that route.
Ramsay waited about 30 minutes before the official times were posted, and it turned out the three-pack Ramsay couldn't catch may have helped him in the long run.
"I was pacing off them the whole time," Ramsay said. "I run much better when I'm following someone."
Hayden's Kayla Kostur will also be heading to the state track meet following her second-place finish in the triple jump finals Friday at Stocker Stadium.
The freshman jumping machine came into the regional meet having already met the state's pre-qualification standard in the high jump. She competes in the high jump finals today. She will enter both events at next weekend's Class 2A meet in Pueblo.
"Each meet it goes back and forth which event I like best," Kostur said. "In both events I have to give everything."
Several of Kostur's teammates have also pre-qualified for the state meet but are using the May 10 and 11 meet as a last chance to compete. Seniors Kevin Miller and Jacques Denker will be heading to Pueblo in the 100 and 200 meters.
Both are also part of the pre-qualified 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
"Our times were a little faster (Friday)," Miller said. "We have nothing to lose."
Based on the performances of many of the Hayden sprinters, it appears as if the Tigers won't be satisfied unless the entire team makes the state tournament.
Senior Derek Stephenson will join Miller and Denker in today's 200-meter final field of eight. Miller posted a meet-best 22.9 in the Friday preliminaries. Miller and Denker will also run in the 100 finals today as the boys look to defend their regional title from last year.
The Hayden girls also hope to make some noise today. Senior Kristin Brown, sophomore Andrea Deepe and freshman Dana Schlingman will race against each other and the clock in the 110-meter hurdles finals. Deepe will also compete in the 300 hurdles.
Freshmen Lauren Branstetter will attempt to qualify for her first state meet in three events. She made the individual finals in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
Juniors Jaclyn Etzler and Samantha Schoeberl will join Branstetter in the 100.
Based on times posted by his athletes heading into regionals, Hayden coach Kevin Kleckler wasn't surprised with the success his athletes had in the Friday preliminaries, but he was pleased.
"We're looking for a big surge today," Kleckler said. "We're tough and we're strong, especially in the sprints."
Steamboat also has several sprinters with state on their minds.
Senior hurdler Jessica Flores made the 110-meter hurdles finals as expected but came up with the sixth-best time in the 300 hurdles as an extra bonus.
"I am not a 300-meter hurdler so that was a little unexpected," Flores said. "Before the race I was like, 'Well this is the last time I'm going to run this so run it well.' I'll try it again tomorrow."
Flores posted the top time in her 110-meter hurdles heat but the third-fastest time overall. She said she has plenty of room for improvement since she wasn't pushed in the preliminaries.
"I'm looking to catch those other two girls (today)," she said.
Sailors senior Lennae Jenkins not only dispensed of the competition in her 400-meter preliminary heat, her time of 61.57 was more than 3 1/2 seconds faster than the nearest competitor overall, setting up a legitimate shot for Jenkins to advance to Denver.
Junior Pat McMahon, Jenkins male counterpart in the 400, also qualified for the finals with a time of 53:53.
"There weren't too many surprises (Friday)," Steamboat coach Andy Reust said. "If they continue to race like they can, we'll be fine."
The Soroco sprinters decided to join in on the sprinting success of the area schools. Like Flores, junior Jessie deGanahl qualified for both the 110 and 300 hurdles. Her time of 17:45 puts her between Hayden's Brown and Deepe heading into today's finals.
Freshman Nichole Wilson posted a 67:67 and will join Branstetter in the open 400.
Another Soroco freshman, Andy deGanahl, looked more like a seasoned veteran, running a 54-flat in the 400-meter preliminaries and a 23.59 in the 200 preliminaries to advance, setting up an intriguing area showdown. Four of the eight individuals in today's 2A 200-meter finals are from Routt County.