The final event of every track meet, the 1,600-meter relay -- or 4x400 relay -- is arguably the grandest race of them all.
Each member must give everything for one final lap. Often, athletes such as the members of the Soroco boys' team seemingly have left everything on the track in previous events.
But Trevor Ellis, Kory Babcock, C.J. Remick and Andy deGanahl found a reserve tank somewhere Saturday, as the four teamed up to not only take first in the Class 2A field, but also to impress a stand full of spectators to the point of applause.
"It's hard to say where that came from," Remick said. "We really wanted this whole thing. Everybody ran hard. That's the hardest I've ever run that thing."
The Rams finished in 3 minutes, 36.62 seconds, thanks in part to deGanahl's absolutely smoking unofficial split time of 50.09, as he blew by Dolores' anchor runner on the corner after the handoff.
Trevor Ellis led things off strong in the opening 400. Babcock made up the staggered start, passing several runners in the final 200 meters of his leg. Remick took the baton in the lead and maintained a strong pace for the duration of his run, enabling deGanahl to get the baton with only a small deficit to make up as the anchor.
No one could come close to catching deGanahl in anything Saturday.
The sophomore won the 200 meters in 22.48, the fastest time, regardless of class, posted at regionals. He also won the 400 handily with a 50.17 to claim two titles at the regional meet at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.
Just as impressive was Jessie deGanahl's regional championships in the 100 and 300 hurdles. After a mediocre performance on Friday, the Soroco senior bounced back, finishing first in both her events in Saturday's finals.
She posted a 47.61 in the 300 and a 16.40 in the 100 hurdles.
Both Andy and Jessie deGanahl had previously qualified for the state meet in their individual events, but their times in winning the regional championships should propel them into the state meet with even more confidence.
Coach Gary Heide apologized for sounding like a broken record, but he has run out of adjectives and different ways to describe Jessie and Andy deGanahl's performances.
"For crying out loud, they were regional champions in four events," he said. "They are just amazing. Andy was so focused today. Jessie was so focused today. I'm getting goose pimples talking about them."
One day after rain, an occasional snowflake and a steady wind welcomed athletes in Grand Junction, the sun came out for most of Saturday's meet. Pleasant running conditions and a sense of urgency led many athletes to post personal best times in Classes 2A, 3A and 4A on Saturday.
Soroco wasted little time, starting things off at 8 a.m. with a first-place showing in the 800-medley relay.
Hallie Shiner, Nicole Wilson, Karli Babcock and Lindsay Ellis teamed up for just the second time this season to run a season-best time of 2:00.47.
Ellis spent all but the week leading up to the regionals and one other meet playing on Steamboat's soccer team. When her soccer season ended last Saturday, she started track. Saturday, she was told to run the 400 and anchor the medley.
She responded, taking the baton after Babcock's strong 200 run, and holding form for one lap.
In addition to the 800-medley, the Soroco girls also qualified their 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams for next weekend's state meet.
The team of Melissa Roy, Nicole Wilson, Jessie deGanahl and Karli Babcock finished second in the 400-meter relay in 52.62.
The same four teamed up to take first in the 800-meter relay, finishing in 1:53.38, shaving exactly 2 seconds off Friday's preliminary time.
The Class 2A State Track and Field Meet begins Friday in Pueblo.
"I think we'll all excited for state," Remick said. "The girls did excellent, and the guys did excellent on."