Lakewood Kali Constine was perhaps the most unassuming of all the girls in the Class 2A high jump competition at the state track meet in Lakewood.
As a sophomore, she was one of the event’s youngest competitors, and at 5 feet, 4 inches tall, she was one of the shortest. That’s not exactly a great characteristic for the high jump, the domain of the tall and long-legged.
Constine shattered the mold Thursday, however. She balanced on the precipice midway through the competition, clearing back-to-back heights on her final attempt, but sailed over the bar on her second try at 5-foot-1.
That leap gave her what she wanted: the school record and third place.
She missed with a trio of attempts at 5-2, but came off the mat beaming.
“It was pretty much the best feeling ever,” Constine said. “I’ve been going for that school record all year.”
Constine’s success was the big highlight on an otherwise slow opening day to the state meet for Routt County high school track athletes.
The day’s only other local competitor, Hayden junior Jack Redmond, couldn’t find the leap he was looking for in the long jump. Typically one of the top jumpers at any meet he’s at, he finished more than 2 feet short of his season-best jump, landing at 17-10 and in 18th place.
Constine, however, gave local fans something to cheer for.
It was close — so close — to being just a nice story instead of a breakthrough one.
She entered with a personal best of 5-0, which left her tied for the school record. It appeared several times that she wouldn’t break it, either. She missed on her first two jumps at 4-11 before sliding over the pole and rolling off the mat, looking all business.
She brightened after she again came up big on her third and final attempt at 5-0.
“I didn’t want to be done yet. I wanted to keep going, so I kept telling myself I could do it,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t that far out of reach.”
She didn’t induce nearly the drama on her robust cheering section when she cleared 5-1, bouncing to the track with a wide grin after just one miss.
The school record had bedeviled her. She came close to 5-1 at the Clint Wells Invitational at Moffat County High School last month, but finally got over Thursday.
“At Craig, I was close-ish, but it wasn’t ever as good as today,” she said. “I just felt like today was a good day to come in and jump good.”
Constine was one of six jumpers to clear 5-0, but making 5-1 gave her a bump ahead of half of those competitors. Paonia sophomore Ashley Van Vleet cruised to victory in the event, clearing everything effortlessly until she eventually had trouble at 5-5.
Aspen Anderson, equally perfect at the lower heights, locked down second place when she cleared 5-2.
“Coming in I thought I had a chance to get ninth, so placing third is crazy,” Constine said. “I would have never thought that.”
Soroco will have the chance to build on their success today as most of the rest of the team’s state meet roster gets into action. Hayley Johnson, Jessica Rossi, Leah Walorski and DaKota Bruner will run the 400-meter relay, then Johnson, Rossi and Walorski will run with Cassi Constine in the 1,600 relay.
Bjorn Carlson, Chance Beaty, Micah Gibbons and Andrew Herzog, meanwhile, will take to the track in the boys 1,600.
Rossi and Kali Constine also will compete in the girls pole vault.