Bruin some champions

Cedaredge's Reid Gates, Markley win state titles

Cedaredge’s Reid Gates clears the high jump bar Saturday during the Class 2A State Track and Field Championship at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. Gates won the title by clearing 6 feet, 7 inches. Gates also finished third in the long jump and ninth in the 100-meter dash.



LAKEWOOD — One came in as the favorite, the other as an underdog. By Saturday afternoon, they were both state champions.

Cedaredge High School junior Reid Gates gave the Bruins their second Class 3A high jump state champion in as many years in the morning. In the afternoon, senior Dante Markley outpaced The Classical Academy’s Jonathan Roy by a fraction of a second (39.35 seconds to 39.41 seconds) to win the 300-meter hurdles at the State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood.

Gates entered the high jump as the No. 1 seed, having cleared 6 feet, 8 inches during the regular season. After locking up the state title with a leap of 6-5 on Saturday, he cleared 6-7 and then looked to set a personal record by giving 6-9 a try. He didn’t get it, but that leaves a goal for next year.

Gates’ triumph triggered both feelings of relief and exhilaration in the 6-foot-2 multisport standout.

“It was a relief, and I was thrilled,” he said. “I mean, I was pretty nervous coming in, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders. ... I kind of felt more pressure this year because I was No. 1. I had expectations this year, and I was happy to fulfill them.”

As for Markley, he came into the meet seeded third and held that spot through Friday’s preliminaries.

“I wasn’t seeded low, but I wasn’t expected to win,” he said. “I knew I could do it, but it doesn’t matter if you believe it or not until it happens. It feels great.”

These weren’t the first two state titles the Cedaredge duo celebrated this school year. They were members of the Bruins’ Class 1A state championship football team, too.

“It’s awesome for anyone from Cedaredge to do well, and it’s a little more special for me because Reid and I were on the football team,” said Markley, who played quarterback and safety for the Bruins on the gridiron. “He was a big part of it, so it makes me that much more hopeful for him to do well, too.”

Gates played running back and safety during that football title run, which intensified the competitive spirit within both athletes. They wanted the wins to keep on coming.

And they worked for it.

“Dante was working toward that state championship in track, but when he got that title in football, he was a different kid,” said Cedaredge head track and field coach Kirby Henderson, who broke a clipboard while cheering Markley on Saturday afternoon. “There’s no doubt about it. And Reid, too.”

Henderson, who coaches the Bruins’ hurdlers, said Markley’s work ethic is unrivaled.

“The kid never, that I know of, missed a single workout, never quit a single workout, never let off on a single workout — never,” Henderson said. “He did everything at practice, whether it was a speed day or an intense day, he stepped up from the time he was a freshman. He never sat out because of an injury or because of pain. It was amazing.”

Mike Morgan, who coaches Cedaredge’s high jumpers and had Danny Martinez win last year’s title under his watch, holds Gates’ competitive fire in the highest regard.

“You could see it when he was in middle school,” he said. “He was a kid who was very determined and very aggressive. You could see it in him. He’s a true gamer. Get him in the zone, and he’ll step up. He will absolutely step up.”

Gates and Markley hail from athletic families.

Reid’s younger brother, Shane, also competed in the high jump, placing seventh by clearing 6-1. Their older sister, Jheri, a 2010 Cedaredge graduate, was a two-time state qualifier who went on to high jump for two years at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., where she became an NCAA Division III All-American.

Their mother, Cheryl, and father, Ken, attended the Air Force Academy. Mom was an accomplished swimmer, and dad crafted a 25-year career as an Air Force pilot.

After many years of circling the globe, living in places such as Panama and Bolivia, Ken’s retirement led the Gates family to Cedaredge, where they found a piece of property and settled down.

Many of Markley’s cousins were sports stars at Olathe, and his dad, Todd, was an all-state linebacker for Olathe’s football team, and he went on to play baseball at Garden City Community College in Kansas.

With the Markleys, Dante said, it’s “not if you’re going to do a sport, it’s what sport are you going to do?”

Lucky for the Bruins, he and Gates chose track and field.

“My senior year, going out with a win, it was great,” Markley said. “I’ve wanted the 300, too. This is what I’ve wanted.”

Markley also placed sixth in Saturday’s 110 hurdles (15.95).

Gates pulled off a podium trifecta, adding a third-place showing in the long jump (21 feet, 7.75 inches) and a ninth-place performance in the 100 (11.47).


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