Soroco grabs two titles at state track | SteamboatToday.com

Soroco grabs two titles at state track

The first time Soroco High School sophomore Grant Redmond tried high jump this spring, it ended in a bit of a disaster.

He'd set the bar at 5 feet, 4 inches, a height the towering Redmond, at 6-8, seemingly could not only jump over, but step over. He didn't jump over it, however, and instead crashed into the bar with such force he shattered it.

The last time Redmond high jumped this spring, things ended as differently as physically possible.

He cleared 6-4 Saturday at the state track meet in Lakewood, making it over the bar on his first attempt, and, when his top competition missed on their three tries, the kid who'd never high jumped before March officially soared to a state championship.

"I went out for track looking to get speed and strength and to stay in shape," he said, pausing briefly to grin. "Turns out, I'm an alright high jumper."

Redmond's win was only one highlight in an outstanding day for the Soroco High School track team on the first day of Class 2A state track meet.

The Rams came away from the day with two state champions and eight state medals.

Junior Ben Kelley provided the other primary highlight when he laid down a blistering pace in the final 600 meters to win the 3,200.

It was his second state championship, after winning in the 800 a year ago.

"It wasn't as exciting as my first time, but it was still really awesome, feeling that sense of relief," he said.

Kelley was slowed all week by a persistent cold and nearly scratched, thinking he could focus on Sunday's two big races, the 800 and the 1,600. He opted in, but took it easier in the first half of the race. He tried to push the pace in the second half and discovered he was feeling just fine. He made up the difference on Jerald Taylor, of Custer County, who led early, then kept going.

"After six laps, I still felt good," Kelley said. "I caught him and thought, 'I still have all this momentum. Why stop here?'"

Redmond had only one hiccup on his path to a state championship. He missed his first try at 6-0.

That shouldn't have been a surprise, given his utter lack of experience in the sport. He didn't go out for track as a freshman, but figured he'd give it a shot as a sophomore, hoping to work on his conditioning for his primary sport — or what was his primary sport — of basketball.

He couldn't clear anything early in the season and didn't even compete in the event until midway through, when he began working with jumping coach Scott Constine. He improved to the point he was no longer a danger to the equipment, and by the end of the spring, he was best in the state.

Veilleux flies to third

Chloe Veilleux set the Rams off with a strong performance in the girls 3,200, the day's first race.

She hung in the pack early as four runners got out in front of her, but charged late to make up ground.

It wasn't enough to catch the fastest two runners, state champ Soleil Gaylord, of Telluride, and runner-up Annie Hughes, from Buena Vista, but Veilleux gobbled up the third- and fourth-place runners on the way to third in 11:36.36.

She later came back to place eighth in the 300 hurdles. She also qualified for the 800 and 1,600, which are scheduled to race Sunday, but she won't compete in those races, so she finished her state meet with two new medals.

Another highlight for the Rams came from the 800 sprint medley relay, where Mattie Rossi capped strong performances from Dakota Bruner, Kourtney Bruner and Cassie Constine with a fearsome 400.

A similar relay team, with both Bruners, Constine and Charee Veilleux, was disappointed to finish 12th in the 800 relay. Their sprint medley, however, was anything but disappointing, placing sixth.

"Mattie kicked butt in the 400," DaKota Bruner said.

"Her 400 was beautiful," Constine added.

The Rams picked up more points in the 300 hurdles, though not as many as they'd hoped.

Rossi entered the meet with 2A's fastest time in the event, and despite improving upon that time and bettering her own school record, she ended up fifth.

"Those girls were flying," said Rossi, who finished in 46.81 seconds. "It hurts not to win when you're seeded like that, but that's just the way it worked out."

Senior Brandon Veilleux made the most of his last chance at a state medal, placing eighth behind Redmond in the high jump. Veilleux only barely made the cut for state, getting the height he needed, 5-8, in the season's final meet. Saturday, he cleared 5-8 again, and it earned him a medal.

"It clicked a little at the end of the season," he said. "I made my arch a little better to clear."

Soroco picked up yet another medal late in the day, from Constine in the triple jump. She was already the school record holder in the event. She didn't better that mark Saturday, but her leap of 33 feet, 9.75 inches was enough for the fifth medal of her career and, after the sprint medley relay, her second of the day.

"This is my favorite event," she said, with a laugh. "It's fun, and it's not running."

Tigers just short in sprint medley

Hayden came up just short in its one event from Saturday's schedule, the sprint medley relay. It went just well enough to be frustrating for the team, which finished 10th, one spot and 0.18 seconds out of the medals.

The team consisted of Allison Ingols, Paige Barnes, Faith Day and Hannah Wilkie.

"We ran our hardest, and that's all you can do," Ingols said.

"Even though we didn't make it on the podium, we're still the 10th-best 2A team in the state," Barnes said.

The Tigers come back with a more full schedule Sunday and get started early, as freshman Hannah Wilkie will battle for a state championship in the 800.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9