LAKEWOOD — Henry Raymond didn’t qualify for the Colorado state track and field championships last year.
Saturday, the Poudre High School senior claimed his third state title in as many days, outrunning the field in the Class 5A boys 1,600 meters at Jeffco Stadium.
“I was pretty nervous for this one,” said Raymond, who won the 3,200 on Thursday and the 800 on Friday. “But the mile’s (the 1,600 is the metric equivalent) my favorite race, so I just decided to go out there and have fun, and I knew I could do it.”
Raymond, who finished in 4 minutes, 18.67 seconds to easily outdistance runner-up Isaac Green of Monarch (4:21.19), was one of six athletes from high schools in and around Fort Collins to claim individual state titles on the final day of the three-day meet.
Resurrection Christian’s Cooper Ward also claimed multiple titles, taking the boys Class 2A 100 in 11.37 and the 200 in 22.56 while also running legs on the winning 400 and 1,600 relay teams.
“I’m blessed just to go out like that,” Ward said. “I’ve always dreamed of doing it; and to finally get four golds, it’s a dream come true, really.”
Ward’s teammate Evan Anderson took the 2A 400, edging Shane Finegan of Wiggins by two-hundredths of a second in a photo finish. Anderson’s time was 49.59, and Finegan’s was 49.61, reversing their finishes from last year’s state meet.
“That’s probably the hardest I ever ran, because last year he did beat me, so this year I was making sure that I brought it home,” Anderson said. “That 400’s probably the toughest race I ever ran, by far.”
Anderson also ran on both of the Cougars’ winning relay teams, as did Conner Stahla. They were joined by Jack Taylor in the 400 relay and Michael Stevenson in the 1,600 relay.
Rocky Mountain’s Gabby McDonald, Fort Collins’ Thomas Robbilard and Heritage Christian’s Rebekah Rairdon also won state titles in individual events Saturday, giving athletes from Fort Collins-area schools 17 state championships — 14 in individual events and three in relay races — in the three-day meet. The Fort Collins girls and Heritage Christian boys and girls also won state team titles.
McDonald, a sophomore who juggled her time this spring between playing goalie for the Lobos’ soccer team and throwing shot put and discus, came up big in the 5A girls shot put with a toss of 49-8 ½. She moved past runner-up Leilah Vigil of Highlands Ranch on the fifth of six throws to win the title by 2 inches.
“There’s only so many times that an athlete comes around like Gabby. She’s special,” said Rocky Mountain throws coach Katie Hansen. “She’s just a good kid, an athlete, competitor. We didn’t get a lot of reps this season, but I had no doubt, right from the beginning. … Whoever’s in front of her, she’ll go after.”
Robillard, a senior, was competing in his first state meet and made it count with a winning 14.48-second run through the 5A boys 110 hurdles.
He fed off the energy of the Fort Collins girls team, which fought for every point it could get to claim the 5A girls team title.
“It was amazing,” Robillard said. “I was really excited.”
Nobody was more excited than Raymond, though.
He had only been to the state meet once before this year, running a leg on the Impalas’ 1,600 relay as a sophomore in 2014. He battled stress fractures that season and hip injuries throughout high school.
TRACK NOTES: Heritage Christian sweeps 1A team titles
He finally got healthy during the cross-country season last fall, moving up from a seventh-place finish at a junior varsity meet early in the year to a fourth-place finish at the state championship meet.
Saturday, the Dartmouth-bound runner wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a state title in the open 1,600.
He went out fast and set the pace through two laps. When Regis Jesuit’s Jack Davidson passed him at the start of the third lap, Raymond refused to budge, surging back in front before Davidson could cut back to the inside of the track.
“Mentally, I didn’t want to be passed at any point, so I just tried hard to hold with him. And I was able to get the inside, and it worked out,” Raymond said.
CHAMPIONS: Fort Collins-area athletes win 17 titles
Three races, and three titles.
Thirty points, good for ninth place in the team standings as Poudre’s only scorer.
“It feels pretty awesome,” Raymond said. “This is my first time at the state meet running individual events, and I was really going for the triple. It feels good to get it.”
Follow reporter Kelly Lyell at twitter.com/KellyLyell and facebook.com/KellyLyell.news.
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