The Eagles’ 3200-meter relay team , from left, Josiah Spano, Jason Sturgis, Trevor Walters, and Ben Justman, took the silver at the 2A state track meet.
The Paonia boys 3200-meter relay team wasn't disappointed that they took the silver at the 2A state track meet.
They were ranked first after running their best race of the year to beat top-ranked Telluride the week before, but they also knew that one of Telluride's top runners hadn't raced that day.
And anchor runner Ben Justman had been sick for several days and had a nose bleed just before the start of Thursday's race. His voice was raspy, and he slumped onto the grass after the race.
But the team of Trevor Walters, Josiah Spano, Jason Sturgis and Justman left nothing on the track. Despite placing second to arch-rival Telluride, they were celebrating after shaving 15 seconds off their best time of the season. "We all ran faster than we've ever ran," said Spano, who had overtaken Telluride in the second leg to give Paonia the lead midway through the 8-lap race.
The team was in a close third when anchor runner Justman received the baton. He passed and finish 15 seconds ahead of third-place Sangre de Cristo.
They were hoping that they'd broken the school record, set in 2005 by Alex Mitchem, Billy Mitchell, Eric Hughes and Justin Vallelonga, but that record, which earned Paonia a state title and was just two seconds shy of the state record, will stand for at least one more season.
Walters, one of three seniors, finished his career off with strong performances. He placed sixth in the 800 with a time of 2:01.85. The time also broke Vallelonga's school record. In one of the closest races of the 2A meet, Walters also set a personal record in the 1600 to place 12th with a time of 4:52.16.
Senior Anthony Roeber didn't medal, but also finished strong, clearing 5 feet, 8 inches for a three-way tie for 10th in the high jump. Roeber also ran on the 1600 relay team with Walters, Justman and Will Austin.
Tony Darling went into the meet ranked fourth in the shot put after throwing 45 feet, 1⁄2 inch at the Hotchkiss Invitational. Darling, a sophomore, threw 43 feet, 3⁄4 inches to place ninth.