Lakewood Bjorn Carlson couldn’t shake the sense of “almost” Saturday. He was the final Routt County competitor in the final event featuring local athletes — high jump — at the high school state track meet in Lakewood.
The Soroco senior had done what many of his teammates already had done during the week, outperforming his seed and using the season’s biggest stage to go above and beyond.
He flew over a bar set at 6 feet, 1 inch, in a stroke bumping his school record higher by 2 inches and placing himself squarely in medal contention.
And he was so close — so close — to clearing 6-foot-2. If he had picked up his feet just a little more. If he had jumped just a little higher. If he had just one more meet.
“It makes me think,” he said.
As close as he came to taking yet another step, Carlson didn’t leave anyone disappointed Saturday. He put down his best performance of the season and finished seventh in the event, capping a strong week of performances for the Rams.
Carlson was one of three local boys in the event, but he was the only one who was able to gain much traction.
Soroco’s Ryan Jeep cleared the opening height of 5-foot-8 on his first try but couldn’t equal his personal best with three cracks at 5-foot-10. Hayden’s Thomas Rauch, who’s cleared 6-1 this season, also struggled once he hit 5-10.
His knee buckled on his last attempt, and he careened into the bar. He and Jeep tied at 11th.
“I felt confident going in, but I just didn’t jump well,” Rauch said. “It was in my head. It’s about confidence.”
That didn’t ruin the weekend for him.
“State is an experience,” he said. “It was truly amazing. Being here and know(ing) you’re one of the best in the state is really cool.”
Carlson, too, seemed like he’d be an early exit. Tall with a good vertical, it’s been the mechanical and mental aspects of high jumping that have bedeviled him. He struggled all season to clear 5-11 and set the school record, then he finally accomplished it last week at the league meet.
On Saturday, he seemed on the verge of a step back. He missed his first two tries at 5-10. He got through, however, then did it again, clearing 6-1. And he couldn’t have been closer to clearing 6-2. He was over — straight up, completely over — twice on his three tries. Both times, however, he clipped the bar with his foot as he flew toward the mat.
“Almost,” as it turned out, wasn’t so bad.
“I’ve always really wanted a state medal,” Carlson said.