Palisade's Van Calcar finishes 2nd in 3,200 in first state meet

Palisade’s Greta Van Calcar leads the pack during the 3,200-meter run Friday at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood. Van Calcar led until the final 200 meters, when Niwot’s Elise Cranny outkicked the Bulldog freshman to capture the state title.

LAKEWOOD — Greta Van Calcar knows she has a race under control when she can’t hear anyone breathing behind her.

Unfortunately for the Palisade High School freshman, the sound of Elise Cranny’s lungs working was very much audible for the first seven laps of Friday’s Class 4A girls 3,200-meter run at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships.

On the eighth and final trip around the oval at Jefferson County Stadium, Cranny’s legs went to work. After lingering one step behind Van Calcar the entire race, the Niwot junior found another gear, surging in the final 200 meters to win in a state-meet-record time of 10 minutes, 38.99 seconds.

Van Calcar finished in 10:48.88 to grab silver in her state-meet debut.

“She kind of did to me what I try to do to other people,” said the freshman, who will race the 1,600 today. “She let me pace her, because she probably knew she could outkick me. I guess the best way to win is to know your opponent and know what you can do. I’m really glad I had her behind me to push me the whole way.”

Cranny pushed Van Calcar to a personal-best time.

“I could hear her breathing,” Van Calcar said. “The only time I ever feel good in a race is when I can’t hear anyone breathing behind me. I know I’m far enough ahead when I can’t hear anyone breathing behind me. It’s good she was back there. It made me want to go faster.”

Van Calcar led a strong showing for the Western Slope in the race. Delta twin sisters Cleo and Clarissa Whiting were third and fifth, respectively. The seniors will run at the University of Pennsylvania next school year and will close out their prep careers with today’s 1,600.

“It’s great the Western Slope is getting better and making its mark,” said Cleo, who finished the 3,200 in 11:14.18. “For a long time, it was always assumed the Front Range has the best. Hopefully we inspire some girls to challenge it.”

As they almost always do, the sisters ran side by side for much of the race.

“It is nice,” said Clarissa, who clocked in at 11:32.51. “It’s a good thing. We wouldn’t be here without each other.”

Another Western Slope runner, Mandy Ortiz of Battle Mountain, finished seventh in 11:36.57.

Shellhorn fifth in 800

Montrose senior Dana Shellhorn loves competing against the best. It brings out the best in her.

She got a dose of the best in Friday’s 800, finishing fifth in 2:13.95. Cranny won the event with her second state-meet-record time of the day, 2:08.5.

“I definitely enjoy running at the state competition,” Shellhorn said. “I’m used to winning in the smaller meets, and you don’t get all the people to push you and competitive spirit you get at state.”

Shellhorn, a center defender for the Indians in soccer, did her best to juggle two sports this spring.

“This year was the hardest,” she said. “There were a lot of conflicting meets, but it worked out well enough to get a time to qualify for state. I just make it to all the meets I can.”

■ Elsewhere in 4A action, Delta’s Chris Black took eighth in the boys high jump (6 feet, 1 inch), and Palisade’s Chance Jackson placed 13th (5-11). Rifle’s Aaron Wagler finished 10th in the boys 800 (1:59.82).


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