Huskies lead state after Day 1 |

Huskies lead state after Day 1

Preston Utley/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Ascher Robbins sprints from the starting block during the 800-meter relay at the state track meet in Lakewood. Despite injuries, the Huskies advanced to today's finals.

LAKEWOOD, Colorado ” Celebrate it while you can.

As the Battle Mountain track and field team left Jeffco Stadium Friday, the boys team was leading the state meet.

With the 3,200-meter relay team having won state gold Friday and big performances from John O’Neill and Jonny Stevens in the 1,600, and only seven events completed on the first day of the state meet, heck, the Huskies were happy to enjoy it while it lasts.

“It was so much fun for the kids,” Huskies coach Rob Parish said. “We had kids in events all day long and competing well. We’re winning the meet right now. It’s not going to hold up, but leaving the stadium winning the state meet is something atypical.”

Ice baths

While the boys 3,200 took care of business, O’Neill, Stevens, and Tony Crisofulli were not done for the day. “The Big Three” went back to the hotel and had an ice baths in their rooms and returned two hours later for the open 1,600.

“We didn’t have much time to think if our legs were hurting,” O’Neill said.

That was probably a good thing because O’Neill took third in the mile with a time of 4 minutes, 24.23 seconds, followed by Stevens in fifth with a 4:26.31 and Crisofulli in 11th.

And yes, that would be another school record for O’Neill. O’Neill ran a 4:25.44 two weeks ago at the Tiger Invite in Grand Junction.

“That will stick,” Parish said with a laugh. “We’ve had this incredible string of breaking records and chipping at them and lowering them. Put the mile in the books, I think.”

Parish’ hesitation comes from the fact that he proclaimed the 2006 3,200 relay team’s 7:58 to be set in cement, and that went by the wayside Friday.

Stevens, who had held this record coming into the season, before he, Crisofulli and O’Neill eventually lowered it at assorted moments, also ran a personal best.

This was the trio’s second go at the 1,600 Friday. A racer from another school fell during the first 100 meters, so by rule, the race was restarted.

“It was such a cluster at the beginning,” Stevens said referring to the pack at the start. “There was a ton of pushing. Guys were spiked and pushing and cutting each other off.”

Stevens actually nearly went down after the 100-meter mark, past the point of no return for a restart, and that would have ruined his chances for a state medal.

“From a coaching standpoint, you could not ask for much more,” Parish said. “These guys are good runners, but this is no accident. They practice. They study the competition on the Web. They watch video. They make good decisions. They’re really fantastic.”

Gutting it out

The Huskies boys 800 relay team advanced to today’s finals finishing ninth in 1:31.1 That was a gutsy effort from Ascher Robbins, Aaron Wilcox, Todd Walker and Jackson Higgins.

Walker hurt his hip during his interval, while Higgins was replacing the injured Ryan Hedrick.

“Todd was hurting. His leg wasn’t firing,” Parish said. “We would have liked to have had Ryan, but Jackson filled in admirably. That’s a testament to how strong Ascher and Aaron are. There’s a lot of pride in this relay, too. It’s the third year in a row that they’ve made state, and the second they’ve qualified for the finals.”

The girls’ 3,200 relay showed what it had running a 10:01, a new school record. That puts Kenzie Grant, McKenzie Stevens, Heidi Sorenson and Jamie Lee Roberts up on the gym board.

Wilcox missed the cut for the finals in both the 100 (11.5 seconds) and the 200 (22.5). Walker withdrew from the 400 because of his hip injury in the 800 relay.

The 400 relay of Robbins, Wilcox, Cody Kleisinger, and Higgins came close. Parish used the 1,600 relay to get some younger kids some state experience. Parke Robbins, Connor Tedstrom, Josh Kundolf and Poncho Menesses finished in 3:44.

Charlie Tedstrom went 12 feet in pole vault for 10th, while Jayna Horn had a personal record of 8 feet.

Today, Crisofulli goes in the open 800, while Stevens and O’Neill have one last duel in the 3,200. The boys 800 relay will battle it out in the finals and Cecilia Garcia and Grant compete in the girls’ two-mile.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or

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