MCHS boys relay team breaks school record en route to 4A state championship |

MCHS boys relay team breaks school record en route to 4A state championship

Joe Moylan

Members of the Moffat County High School 4-by-800-meter relay team, clockwise from lower left, Alfredo LeBron, Johnny Landa, Miguel Molina and Rene Molina take the top spot on the medal podium Thursday after winning the 4A state title at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood. The team ran the race in 7 minutes and 53 seconds, six seconds faster than the rest of the field and three seconds faster than the school record-breaking performance from a week ago at regionals in Grand Junction.

Going into Thursday's 4A state track finals at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood, Moffat County High School track coach Todd Trapp was confident his 4-by-800 meter relay team was about to embark on something special.

"They get really excited about coming down to the state meet because they get to compete against the top people in the state," the coach said. "And coming down here after breaking the school record was exciting for them."

A week earlier seniors Alfredo Lebron, Rene Molina, Miguel Molina and Johnny Landa scorched through the Western Slope League meet in Grand Junction taking first place in the regional relay race, which boosted the Bulldogs track team to a second-place WSL finish overall.

The team crossed the finish line in 7 minutes and 56.62 seconds, breaking the eight-minute barrier and destroying the previous school record by a full eight seconds.

"They really ran well last week, which showed their progression over the course of the season," Trapp said. "When you have your relay teams and individuals running their fastest times towards the end of the year, it's fun to know you have another week to go."

On Thursday, the team bested its regional time en route to the 4A 4-by-800 meter relay state title. Landa, who ran the team's second leg, deserves a lot of credit for the victory, Trapp said.

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"Johnny ran his best leg of the year by a couple of seconds," he said. "We were ahead by three or four seconds going into the third leg and he provided the big boost we needed to get that lead."

Rene Molina started things off for MCHS and was in third position when it came time to hand the baton off to Landa. Within the first 150 meters of his 800-meter leg, Landa had caught the leader, Trapp said.

The two matched each other stride-for-stride until Landa made his move. "Johnny kicked it into another gear and just took over," Trapp said.

The rest of the field of 18 teams spent the remainder of the race staring at the back of the blue Bulldogs jerseys.

Miguel Molina had a "three- or four-second" cushion when he took off on his leg, running hard despite not having any nearby competitors for pace.

Lebron, who anchored the relay team, was also largely unchallenged during his fourth and final leg.

When he crossed the finish line, the official time read 7 minutes and 53 seconds — more than six seconds faster than the field and three seconds better than the record-setting performance a week earlier in Grand Junction.

"Seeing them run that fast last week I knew we would be able to drop below that 7:56 mark," Trapp said. "I expected them to be there and I expected a lot of other teams to compete with us in some of those legs, but the way Johnny opened it up for us was just huge."

Before the title race, senior Garrett Spears started things off for the Bulldogs in the shot put, where he was ranked 13th going in.

Spears hit a distance of 49 feet and 7 inches on his last throw during the preliminary competition to earn a spot in the finals. He cleared that distance by two inches in the final to earn a fifth-place finish.

Trapp said his shot putter's performance set the tone for the entire day.

"Being seeded 13th coming in and coming out fifth was really awesome for (Spears)," Trapp said. "The team got excited watching his performance and definitely fed off what Garrett did this morning."

Senior Andy Browning also competed Thursday and finished his 200-meter race in 22.85 seconds, good for 12th place.

"Andy just missed out on the finals, but he also ran really well and earned another finish in under 23 seconds," Trapp said.

With more competitions scheduled through the weekend, Trapp said his state athletes took it easy Thursday night and watched a movie as a team.

"We've got the 800-meter and the 4-by-400-meter (today),” Trapp said. "(Friday) was a good start to the state meet and we're looking for some more exciting results in the next couple days."

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