Everyone expected Hayden to qualify throwers and sprinters for the state meet, but even the four girls on the state-bound 3,200-meter relay team were caught a little off guard by their performance at Saturday's regional championships.
Junior Mariah Doolin and sophomore Jessica Martin, state qualifiers for the first time, were so inexperienced as to the proper way to celebrate a top-three finish, the pair did it before they ran their legs of the race.
"Amber (Suits) wasn't even done yet," senior Lauren Branstetter said. "She was on her first lap, and they were ready to go to state. They hadn't even run yet. I told them to hold our place because I want to jog in. I was able too."
Branstetter is allowed to give orders. She is the most experienced girl on the team. Last year, she was the only female representative at state for the Tigers. She is pleased others will be accompanying her this time around.
"These young girls I'm pretty close with," Branstetter said. "I wanted to do a relay with them. When I was younger, I had the chance to be on a relay, and it brought us closer as a team."
But that wasn't the only surprise the Tigers turned in Saturday. Freshman Zathan Bark, senior Chris Suits and juniors Tyson Sweetser and Keenan Bruchez turned in a time of 2 minutes, 40.37 seconds to take second in the 1,600-meter relay.
The top three individuals and relays automatically advance to the Class 2A/3A State Track and Field Championships at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo.
For the most part, it was a successful regional meet for the Hayden boys. Seniors Evan Hilling and Jesse Drennan qualified in all four of their events, including their individual ones. Hilling took second in the high jump Friday, clearing 6 feet, 2 inches, and Drennan captured second in the triple jump Saturday, leaping 40 feet, 9 ½ inches.
As expected, the Tigers took first in the 400-meter relay with a time of 45.05. They will be one of the favorites to win the state title in the event. The same foursome of Drennan, Hilling, Kenny Gehrman and Tyson Letlow also took second in the 800-meter relay, avenging the loss they experienced last year when Drennan and Letlow dropped the baton.