Athletes in Class 3A, 2A excited about next year’s format change

LAKEWOOD — When the Colorado High School Activities Association went to a new procedure to reach the Class 5A and 4A state track & field championships one year ago, qualifying became more difficult.

A majority of the District 51 athletes, however, seem to like the format.

Next year, Class 3A and 2A will go to the same format of the top 18 times and distances reaching the championships.

That will eliminate the format of having the top three placers at regionals advance, plus any athletes who reach state qualifying standards during the season.

The bigger schools dropped regional meets, with most conducting league championships the week before state, a last chance to move into the top 18.

Class 3A and 2A coaches and athletes welcome the change.

“I’m in favor of it,” Paonia coach Brian Mitchem said. “We had some kids that would’ve qualified this year and would’ve really helped us, but didn’t make it through because our region is so tough.”

For example, Trevor Wilson placed fourth in regionals in the 1,600-meter run and didn’t qualify, even though had the fifth-best time in the state.

“You know where you stand,” Mitchem said. “In the 100 (dash), we’re not talking a hundreth of a second like you are in 5A. We’re talking a tenth of a second. There’s a little more room here for us (in 2A).”

Athletes in Class 3A are also excited about the change.

Sierra Williams of Cedaredge qualified for state in the 100 and 200 dash during the season and would’ve been a qualifier in the top-18 system.

“I kind of like it, because it takes away the pressure of regionals,” Williams said. “If you’re ranked in the top 18 the whole year, you know you’re going. It takes away that extra pressure.”

Williams doesn’t think it will change her approach through the course of the season, but it might encourage athletes to perform their best each time out.

Hotchkiss sophomore Beth Wood qualified for state this year in relays and wasn’t aware of the change in the qualifying format.

“I think it will push us,” Wood said. “If they take the top 18 times, we’ll just be competing against the clock and not against others.”

Senior teammate CeCe Pieper, who qualified for state in the hurdles and relays thinks it will help Wood and the returning athletes.

“I think they’ll be fine,” Hotchkiss senior CeCe Pieper said. “We’ve been top nine the whole time.”


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