LAKEWOOD -- Gary Tague has watched a lot of state track meets in his life. Still, the 27-year veteran Moffat County track coach is amazed every time he comes to Denver for the end of the season.
On Friday, what amazed him was the speed of the relay times turned in compared to five years ago.
"Everybody keeps getting faster," he said. "Several years ago, we placed fifth with an 8 (minutes), 17 (seconds) in the 3,200 relay. This year that wouldn't have even got a sniff of placing."
For Tague's boys, it would take a school-record effort for them to get into the finals at the Class 4A Colorado State Championships.
The 3,200-meter relay team of sophomore Mike McNicol, juniors Jeremy Bird and Jake Miller and senior Derek Duran came into the meet with as the second-fastest team in school history. They ran five seconds slower than their previous best of 8:07.24 and finished finished 11th.
The 800-meter relay team of Duran, juniors Andrew Drake and Sam Weeldreyer and senior Jake Bilodeau ran their best time of the season and .03 seconds off the school record. Their time of 1:31.16 was the ninth best run of the day. If the qualifying requirements to get into a final was the nine-best times the 800-relay team would have made it to finals, but the first- and second-place finishers in each heat automatically make it. Pueblo Centennial finished second in another heat with a time of 1:31.27 and made it into finals.
"We really wanted to get the school record, so that's the hardest part," Weeldreyer said. "But it was also tough that we had one of the nine fastest times and didn't get in."
Weeldreyer, Bird and Duran made up for just missing placing by setting a new school record in the 1,600 relay. Along with senior Malcolm Hillewaert, the team ran a 3:25.84 and finished third in its heat.
The previous school record was 3:27.42. That time wouldn't have made it into today's finals.
"(The 1,600 relay) definitely helps make up for everything else today," Duran said. "We all ran tough."
Moffat's time was the sixth-best in the preliminaries. The best time was Cherokee Trail's 3:22.36.
In other events, Drake finished 20th in the 200, and Hillewaert ran a personal best of 50.97 in the 400, which was good enough for 14th place.
Today the Bulldogs will wait until 2 p.m. to run in their first event. Duran and Bird will then run in the 800. The season will finish up with the 1,600 relay team running in the finals.