Soroco sophomore Andy deGanahl couldn't believe it. He had to bite into his first-place medal to make sure it was real.
The medal wasn't made of gold, but he didn't care. "It could be spray-painted plastic for all I care," deGanahl said.
He had just won the state championship for the 400-meter race in 49.53 seconds and was greeted with open arms by teammates, his coach and his sister Saturday at the State Track and Field Championships in Pueblo. Little did he know at that moment, that he also would become a state champion in the 200-meter dash in 22.61 seconds, and help his teammates to a come-from-behind third place finish in the 4x400-meter relay in 3:30.34.
"There are no words to describe Andy," Soroco track coach Gary Heide said. "All I know is he didn't learn it from me. He's got talent." In the 4x400, teammates Trevor Ellis, C.J. Remick and Kory Babcock got off to a good start on team-record pace.
But the opposition was fierce, and by the time deGanahl received the baton, the majority of the pack was in front of him.
But deGanahl had no intention of allowing them to stay in front. He pushed past opponents around the corners and crossed the finish line third.
"Fast," Ellis said about the race, between deep breaths. "Those guys were really fast. Much faster than (the preliminary race) yesterday."
The Soroco boys also were faster than they were in the preliminary, running a solid 3 seconds faster.
The Soroco girls ran slightly slower than they did in the preliminaries but still placed fifth in the state for the 4x100-meter relay in 52.68 seconds and eighth for the 4x200-meter relay in 1:51.76. After their first race, the 4x200, teammates said they had perfect handoffs.
"We just weren't fast enough," team member Nicole Wilson said.
Still, the girls were pleased with their performance. For the 4x200, the girls set a goal of finishing at least sixth, because only the top six receive medals.
Thus, the girls were excited to find out they finished fifth.
"This is awesome," team member Melissa Roy exclaimed.
"The pressure was on, because all of the girls were so fast," teammate Karli Babcock said.
"They pushed us to go fast." "(The girls) looked so bummed after the 4x200," Heide said. "But I told them they should be happy to be here. We're not the fastest ones here, but we're darn near close. They showed that by climbing from the fourth seed in the region to being ranked fifth in the state."
The peak performer for the Soroco girls was senior Jessie deGanahl, who ended up taking home three medals and a ribbon.
She was a part of the 4x100 and the 4x200, and individually, she finished third in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 47.28 seconds and fifth in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.47 seconds.
Jessie deGanahl said she had difficulty keeping up in the 100-meter hurdles because she takes four steps in between hurdles, while most of the other girls take three.
Her third place victory in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles was the highest placing she has ever made at state-level competition. She said she was happy she did so well in the last race of her high school career.
"If anyone deserves recognition, it's her," Heide said. "She always wants to improve, and she showed that she has. A top finish says a lot about a person's attitude and drive."
-- To reach Nick Foster, call 871-4204
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org