LAKEWOOD — Every member of the Cedaredge High School boys 4x200-meter relay team knew Friday how much was riding on their race.
Wyatt Camp, Alex Barron, Drew Markley and Ty Grant weren't just chasing a second straight title in the event at the Class 2A state track and field meet at Jefferson County Stadium. The quartet was also helping the Bruins chase something bigger — a third straight team title.
"We need every point we can get right now," said Drew Markley, the third leg of the Bruins' relay team that won in a season-best 1 minute, 32.02 seconds. "We've only had one finalist who had placed before this, so to come out and do this and get these points was absolutely huge."
Friday's victory in the 4x200 relay was nice — as well as a fifth-place finish in the 4x800 relay — but the Bruins are in an 11th-place tie with Paonia at 15 points through nine events. Lyons leads the way with 36, with Resurrection Christian (31), Yuma (27) and Hotchkiss (26) following.
Cedaredge has plenty of events coming up today to get back in the team race. Grant is the top seed in the 100 and 200 meters, Danny Mendoza qualified for the finals in the 110 and 300 hurdles, and the Bruins will also compete in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
"This was huge," Grant said of Friday's win. "Now, at least we know we're in the running."
Paonia's girls team also faces an uphill battle in its quest for a sixth consecutive team title. The Eagles are tied with Peyton for third place with 20 points, with Lyons (44) and Crested Butte (24) leading the way. A second-place finish from McKenna Palmer in the long jump (16 feet, 7 inches) and an eighth-place finish from Brooke Hillman in the 800 (2:26.12) helped Paonia's cause. The Eagles' 4x400 relay team had the fastest qualifying time of the day (4:12.96).
Friday was the day for area relay teams to shine.
Plateau Valley's 4x800 quartet of Madison Clark, Macie Holmes, Calla Dennison and Rebecca Hittle won the Class 1A title in 10:28.66. The time shattered the team's previous-best time of 10:43.61 and also bested the previous state record set by Merino in 2011 by .02 seconds.
Hittle, a freshman running the team's anchor leg, let out a celebratory yell at the finish line and collapsed into her teammates' arms in tears.
"All of those other times we hadn't run our best race," Holmes said. "This was one of those where we knew that we wanted it and knew from the beginning it was going to be our race."
Two other area relays nearly ran down first-place finishes.
Hotchkiss' 2A sprint relay team — Yasmine Gaub, Elise Vazquez, Jordan Tamayo and Kaiya Firor — would have finished first if the race were 20 meters longer. That's because Firor, running the 400-meter anchor leg, chased down six other runners and nearly caught Denver Christian's Monika Williams.
Denver Christian won the state title in 1:51.67, with Hotchkiss second in 1:52.46.
And if the race were longer?
"I probably could have done it if I was running straight," Firor said. "Curves are hard."
Grand Valley's 800 medley relay came even closer to chasing down a victory. Anchor Jordyn Pittman desperately reached across the finish line in an attempt to beat Lutheran's Regan Aurich, but her team's time of 1:49.69 was .03 short.
Her teammates were thrilled she came that close.
"No words can describe how proud I am of her," said Shaya Chenoweth, who also teamed with Ryley Sackett and Alex Mendoza in the relay. "There's no way we would have even gotten this close without her."
Notching her second consecutive runner-up finish in the 2A shot put was Cedaredge's Katie Hyke with a put of 37-7 3/4. Finishing second in the 2A boys discus was Paonia's Cyrus Malek-Madini (148), with Hotchkiss' Darrin Young (137-4) finishing fourth. De Beque's Faith Novess matched the winning height of 5-1 in the high jump but needed one more attempt and finished third.
Cedar Mitchell's put of 31-0 in the shot put gave her a ninth-place finish for Plateau Valley, which also got a third-place finish from the boys 4x800 relay team of Codey Lee, Evan Kaighn, Elario Entwistle and Matthew Myers in 8:57.37. Hotchkiss' Sam Rodriguez took fifth in a very fast 2A 800 (2:00.51), and Soroco's Ben Kelley set a 2A state record of 1:52.77 to win ahead of Rangely's Patrick Scoggins (1:55.50).
Delta's Jacob Wear was ninth in the 3A 800 (1:59.82) and Entwistle was ninth in the 1A 800 (2:06.62). De Beque's girls sprint medley relay team was eighth in 2:01.12.