Not even the late afternoon cloud cover, which dropped temperatures at Dutch Clark Stadium from unbearable to just plain hot, could cool off the red-hot Soroco Ram's track team Friday.
The Ram's 1,600-meter boys relay team capped off a strong team showing by posting the fastest qualifying time of the event at 3 minutes, 29.37 seconds. But the finish didn't surprise the team of Trevor Ellis, Kory Babcock, Carl Remick and Andy deGanahl.
"I wasn't even nervous today; it was really weird," Kory Bobcock said. "It just doesn't feel like state. We normally come to state looking to beat some other team, but now we are No. 1, and things are really different. It's like we don't have any competition."
But he knows things will change today when the surviving Rams line up against the state's best in the finals.
But the boys 1,600-meter squad will not be the only relay team on the track today. Trevor Ellis, Kory Babcock, Tony Iacovetto and deGanahl also will represent the Rams in the 800-meter relay. And not to be outdone, the girls will be represented in the 400- and 800-meter relays, as well as the 800-meter sprint medley relay by the team of Melissa Roy, Nichole Wilson, Karli Babcock and Kyla Schmidt.
The girls got off to a strong start in the medley, which was the first event of the day. The team was sitting in fifth place as anchor Melissa Roy rounded the last corner in the final 400-meter leg. But she didn't give up.
"I knew I had to kick it and pass some people," Schmidt said. "It was the hardest kick I've ever done. ... I had to finish first or second for use to go on."
Roy picked off several runners in front of her, helping the Rams move up to second in the heat with the fourth fastest qualifying time at 1:54.87.
But the Soroco squad didn't stop there.
The same four runners returned to the track a few events later and posted the second fastest qualifying time in the 800 at 1:49.30. Holyoke was the only school to complete the event faster at 1:48.56. The girls also posted the third fastest time in the 400-meter relay at 52.21, but they were not happy about it after the race.
"We haven't been beat in that event all year," Karli Babcock said. "We were league champs and regional champs. Nobody beats us in that event."
Babcock and her teammates said they will use the finish to motivate their performance today.
The Rams also will have several individuals in today's final, including deGanahl, who won titles last year in the 200-, and 400-meter events.
He cruised to the win in the 200 with a time of 22.90. He also qualified in the 400, along with teammate Kory Babcock.
"I'm sure that me and Kory are going to be right there in the finals," deGanahl said. "He's always pushing me. Kory is the only guy I wouldn't mind losing to."
But he doesn't plan to lose.
"I would love to win three state titles in a row in both the 200 and 400," deGanahl said. "I'm not going to make it easy on anybody."
Friday also marked the end of the season for Soroco distance runner Kieran Corrigan who placed 15th in the finals of the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:03.11. Limon senior Isreal Ortiz won the event with a time of 4:39.18.
Corrigan, who was just happy to have made it to state, said it wasn't his best race of the season.