Hotchkiss' Celis, Bartlett win state crowns in 800
LAKEWOOD — The Hotchkiss girls and boys track and field teams Friday reminded the rest of Class 2A they’re in the thick of the hunt for state team titles.
In a matter of five minutes, the Bulldogs, who finished Thursday’s first session embedded solidly in second place, narrowly trailing Paonia in the girls and boys team standings, raced to a pair of event championships.
That began when Jennifer Celis established a 2A state record in the 800-meter run. The Hotchkiss senior came into the race seeded No. 1.
“It was definitely added pressure,” Celis said of knowing she was the runner to beat, “but I think pressure is good.”
She responded well, picking up the pace at the start of the second lap and pulling away from West Grand’s Tabor Scholl to win by a second and a half in 2 minutes, 13.35 seconds.
Hotchkiss had a stable of good distance runners who pushed each other in the fall and spring.
“Coach Kelly Cowan (is) amazing,” Celis said. “He knows how to push us without burning us out.”
“When you’ve got solid distance runners from 400 (meters) up, you’ve got a chance,” Cowan said of building a team from the middle distances out.
Five minutes after Celis crossed the finish line victorious, she watched excitedly as teammate Cody Bartlett matched her feat by winning the boys 800. Bartlett, who was also seeded first entering the race, was the only runner to beat the 2-minute mark, crossing in 1:59.47 to win by more than three-quarters of a second.
He took motivation from Celis’ victory, keeping an eye on her race as he warmed up.
“I just love watching her run,” he said.
Bartlett grabbed the lead right off the bat.
“I actually run pretty well when I’m scared,” he said.
The runner who scared him most was Lutheran’s Ryan Schone, whom Bartlett pulled away from on the second lap.
Teammate Keegan Palmer added a third-place finish in the triple jump, the Bulldogs’ Mason Oxford took fifth in the discus, and Andrew Tiedemann also scored team points with an eighth-place finish in the 800.
Celis had little time to recover as she quickly joined Katy Parsons, Sophia Schelle and Kelli Burndorf in the 800-meter relay final.
Burndorf, running the anchor, took the handoff with the team in fourth place. She made up two places in the first 50 meters. By the final curve she had overtaken the field to run away from the pack and give the quartet the state title.
“I heard somebody breathing behind me,” Burndorf said of her motivation heading down the home stretch.
“We knew we weren’t invincible,” Celis said of having the top seed but knowing there were a number of teams capable of winning.
By the same token, “We knew what we had to do,” Burndorf said.
The Hotchkiss girls sit in fourth place with 45 points going into today, the final day of the meet, but they’re in striking distance of each. Akron leads the way with 53 points, followed by Lyons (52) and Paonia (48).
The Hotchkiss boys remained in second place, their 34 points trailing only Lyons’ 48.5 points. Telluride is third with 30 points and Paonia fourth with 20.
Cowan is aware his team is in a tight race with Paonia and Lyons, among others, for the 2A team titles.
“It comes down to who doesn’t make mistakes,” he said.
Paonia’s girls benefitted Friday from a pair of runner-up finishes. Morgan Hartigan was second in the shot put with a heave of 37-5.75, freshman teammate Taylor Carsten was fifth at 35-8.5, and the Eagles’ medley relay was second in 1:50.57.