Andy deGanahl's body did what no Class 2A runner has been able to do for three years: overcome the Soroco senior's inner drive to excel.
On Saturday, during the 200-meter finals at the Class 2A State Track and Field Championships, deGanahl fell to the Dutch Clark Stadium surface writhing in pain. Meet officials had to carry him off the track. The trainers called his injury a strained hamstring. Others would call it bad timing.
In deGanahl's final meet of his remarkable prep career, he was supposed to leave Pueblo with four more state titles. Instead, he left with two. Considering the condition of his body, those two might be the most remarkable in his four years of high school.
"If anyone is going to have to be carried off a track, he is the one," Rams coach Gary Heide said.
DeGanahl likely strained the right hamstring Saturday while trying to protect his left Achilles tendon, which he strained a week ago.
Despite the injury, he teamed with Matt Iacovetto, Steve Meade and Tony Iacovetto to win the 800-meter relay in 1 minute, 31.92 seconds. Tony Iacovetto's strong third leg helped pull the Rams from near the back to second. DeGanahl got the baton and caught Wray's anchor on the turn. He held off Haxtun's anchor leg to help his team win.
The title was Tony Iaco-vetto's second and the first for Meade and Matt Iacovetto, who went from wrestler to track athlete in one short season.
"We knew nothing was guaranteed this season," Tony Iacovetto said. "We knew it would be a struggle."
DeGanahl went on to win the 400 meters in 49.45, his third 400-meter title in as many years. He caught Limon's Tyson Liggett on the opening corner, which he said seemed too easy, but deGanahl held off Liggett, who came on strong at the end, and Norwood's Dillon Bosch, the runner-up last season.
Liggett crossed the finish line in 49.84. Bosch was across in 49.85. By comparison, no runner from the larger Class 3A schools broke the 50-second mark.
While Soroco's sprinters were busy scoring points, junior Kieran Corrigan decided to become one of the favorites to win the Class 2A 1,600 meters next season. His time of 4:54 wasn't his personal best, but it was good enough for third. But considering that the distance runners were doing everything short of baking on the all-weather track Saturday, Corrigan was happy with his time and finish. He also placed fourth in the 800 meters on Friday.
Center's Daniel Villagomez was first in 4:48.78, and Plateau Valley's Glenn Randall was just ahead of Corrigan in 4:52.52.
"My goal was to stick with Glenn," Corrigan said. "I didn't think I'd be that close. I was fifth coming into this race."
Corrigan stayed with Villa-gomez and Randall for the first two laps and dropped back a bit on the third, allowing the chase pack to close the gap. When Corrigan sensed Del Norte's Carlos Ruibal and Paonia's Alex Mitchum on his heels, he found another gear.
"I knew if I could kick and keep it up, I'd have third," he said. "I didn't know I'd be that close to second."
But Corrigan's third-place finish wasn't the biggest surprise he was dealt Saturday. On his leg of the 1,600-meter relay, Matt Iacovetto inadvertently stepped on Corrigan's shoe during the baton exchange, jarring it loose. Corrigan kicked his shoe off on the first turn and ran 350 meters with one bare foot.
The Rams, who were the defending state champions in the event, wound up in sixth in 3:36.40. Matt Iacovetto ran the strongest opening 400 meters of his career, and Corrigan and Tony Iacovetto, who placed sixth in the 100 and 200 finals, positioned Soroco well for anchor Johnny DeCosta, an alternate who replaced the injured deGanahl.
Before the race, DeCosta scrambled between trying to warm up and checking on his friend.
"He's my best friend," DeCosta said. "It was hard to do. I wanted him to get the medal. I went into the training room and saw them massaging his leg, and I told him I didn't want to run. Before the race, the four of us said, 'Let's do it for Andy.'"
As a team, the Rams finished in fourth, scoring 40 points. With a healthy deGanahl, Soroco likely would have placed second, but it would not have caught Limon, who won easily with 101 points.
Limon won the girls title as well, scoring 87.5 points. Soroco was 13th with 17.