Most of Colorado's high school track teams spent March competing. The Hayden track team practiced, broke for spring break and practiced some more.
On Saturday, the Tigers reaped the rewards of rigorous March training, posting numerous top-three finishes in their first meet of the year.
"Quite honestly, the kids feel like they are in the best shape they've been in," coach Kevin Kleckler said.
The boys placed second as a team, coming up four points shy of Middle Park. Also during the Joe Shield Invitational, hosted by West Grand, two school records fell and two Hayden athletes pre-qualified for the state meet.
Tyson Sweetser set two meet records in the shot put and discus and also set the school record in the discus with a throw of 138 feet, 8 inches, which pre-qualified him for the state meet in May. Sweetser threw the shot 42-6 1/2.
"He has had tremendous growth, I think in both strength and technique," Kleck------ler said.
Senior Evan Hilling won the 100 meters in 11.44 seconds to pre-qualify for state. Keenan Bruchez finished second in the 110-meter hurdles in 17.03, setting a new school record.
Individually, Hilling also placed third in the 200 in 23.85, and Bruchez was sixth in the discus and seventh in the shot put.
Hilling teamed with Jesse Drennan, Kenny Gehrman and Brandon Ford to win the 400-meter relay in 46.31. Drennan, Gehrman, Levi Sheldon and Evan Hilling placed second in the 800-meter relay in 1:36.61.
Kleckler had to replace Tyson Letlow in the 400- and 800-meter relays after Letlow pulled a muscle during the 200 meters. Letlow likely is out several weeks.
Drennan also placed second in the 100 (11.68) and fifth in the 200. Gehrman was fifth in the 100.
Sheldon was second in the long jump, leaping 18-11 1/4, and third in the triple jump, leaping 37-9. He also placed sixth in the high jump.
Zathan Bark placed third in the 400 meters in 55.96.
Bark teamed with Garrett Murchison, Sweetser and Bruchez to place seventh in the 1,600-meter relay.
The girls also crowned an individual champion when Lauren Branstetter took first in the 200 meters in 27.89. She picked up two third-place finishes in the 100 (13.53) and the 400 (1:04.60).
The Tigers also picked up five fifth-place finishes and three seventh-place finishes to place sixth out of 14 teams in West Grand.
Kaitlyn Corriveau was fifth in the long and triple jumps. She also took seventh in the 400 meters in 1:09.65.
Jessica Varah took fifth in the shot and the discus. The 1,600-meter relay team of Kirsten Miller, Corriveau, Emily Whiteman and Jessica Martin placed fifth. Martin also placed seventh in the long jump, and Amber Suits was seventh in the 1,600-meter run.
"We're real balanced," Kleckler said about Hayden's team.
The middle school and high school programs are working together, enabling more coaches to provide individual attention in certain disciplines. This year, Jnl Linscum, Sally Brach-Morton, Robin Bush, Greg Richards, Barb Manzanares and Leif Jacobsen are helping coach.