The opening day of the 2A High School Track and Field Championships brought good and bad news to the members of Hayden's 400-meter relay team.
The good news is that the team of Jesse Drennan, Tyson Letlow, Kenny Gehrman and Evan Hilling advanced to the finals of the relay with the second fastest time of the day at 44.59 seconds. A big improvement on the team's previous best.
The bad news is that the team's biggest rival, Telluride, advanced with an even faster time of 44.50 on the track at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo setting up another showdown between the two teams.
"I don't care if we finish No. 7, as long as they are No. 8," Drennan said after the race.
The rivalry has heated up since the two teams met last week at the regional championships in Grand Junction. Telluride won round one.
However, it has quickly grown into the type of rivalry that pushes both sides, said Hayden coach Kevin Kleckler.
"There's no real reason for it," Kleckler said. "They beat us at regionals, but that was the first time we've seen them this season. I think they just have a lot of really good runners, and they are challenging our guys."
Kleckler is hoping his team can use Telluride to elevate its performance in a race the coach expects to be tight.
"It's all going to come down to the handoffs in the finals," Kleckler said. "The team with the best handoffs will win the title."
The Tiger's top sprinter Hilling is hoping it will be his team winning the title Saturday. He also is hoping to pull in a couple of individual honors on the final day of the state track meet.
Hilling advanced in the 100-meter dash by recording a time of 11.33 in the speed event. He will start in lane three after being beaten in the qualifier by Custer County's Luke Smith, Telluride's Kevin Ludwig and Merino High School's Craig Kaiser.
Hilling said a bad start hurt him in Friday's 100-meter dash, and he is confident he can improve his showing in the finals.
"I knew I needed to make up some time after my start, so I just got on my horse," Hilling said. "It turned out to be one of my best times of the season, but I know I'm going to have to get a better start in the finals if I want to win."
Lauren Branstetter also will be vying for a title thanks to her seventh place finish in the 400-meter dash. She finished with a time of 1:02.92 just off the past time set by Limon's Justine Sanderfeld who finished at 58.88.