The Hotchkiss boys had their best showing in recent years at the state track meet, placing in the top five in three events and scoring 43 points to place fifth overall in Class 2A.
The last time the boys did this good was in 2013 when both teams placed third, said head coach Kelly Cowan. It's also the first time that all four relay teams placed at state. As the meet went on, they did better and better. "We talked about it and the kids realized that they deserve to be here and can run with this kind of competition."
In the first relay finals race of the meet, the 3200m relay team of Robert Cochran, Jesus Macias, Myles Zoutte and Sam Rodriguez finished eighth with a time of 8:31.66.
The 800m relay team of Cochran, Oliver Mendoza, Jace Peebles and Colton Peebles was ranked 12th in the 800-meter relay, placed eighth in preliminaries with a time of 1:35.00 -- just three-1000ths of a second ahead of Crested Butte, and placed sixth in finals.
"When we heard we were ranked eighth, we were excited as all get out," said senior Colton Peebles. "This is amazing."
One of the biggest successes of the meet was the 400m relay team of George Arroyo, Mendoza, and Colton and Jace Peebles. The four first ran together at the 2A Western Slope League meet and secured the 18th and final state qualifying place after running a 46.35-second time at the Cedaredge Bruin Invitational -- the final qualifying meet of the season.
In the preliminary heat Hotchkiss tied for eighth with a time of 46.21 seconds. After a review, they were seeded ninth by a mere three-1000ths of a second. In finals they placed sixth with a time of 46.30.
Hotchkiss rode the wave in the final event of the meet, the 1600-meter relay. The team of Cochran, Jace Peebles, Macias and Rodriguez won bronze with a season-best time of 3:31.11 after finishing ninth in preliminaries with a time of 3:35.57.
In the meet's throwing events, Darrin Young took second in shot put with a throw of 46 feet, 9.5 inches, and first-year senior shot-putter Kevin Chavez, who was ranked 13th, placed ninth with a throw of 42-6.
In the discus event Young placed fourth and senior Nolan Egging, who was ranked 13th, placed seventh with a mark of 131-1.
Elijah Patrick finished fourth in the high jump. Patrick, a second-year junior high jumper who placed 10th in state high jump last season, cleared the bar at the starting height of 5 feet, 10 inches on his first attempt. Patrick was among 10 jumpers remaining after the bar was raised from 5-10 to 6 feet. On his second attempt, Patrick cleared 6 feet and was one of four jumpers remaining when the bar was raised. All four passed on jumping 6-1, and Patrick went out at 6-2.
In individual running events, two-time state qualifying senior Colton Peebles finished 10th in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.1 seconds. In the 110m hurdles, sophomore Jace Peebles placed 11th with a time of 16.63 seconds. Rodriguez was ranked 10th in the 800m run and placed fifth with a time of 2:00.51.
In a race that saw the state record shattered by two seconds, Rodriguez said he didn't start as fast as he should have and was "stuck a little bit" for about half of the first lap.
"I just wanted to keep up (with the pack) in my first lap," said Rodriguez. "I knew that if I could keep up I'd have a kick at the end."
In his first year of running the 400-meter dash Rodriguez was ranked 14th in Class 2A competitors and placed 13th overall with a personal-best time of 52.77 seconds.
All six members of the boys team -- Colton Peebles, Young, Egging, Zoutte, Chavez and Rodriguez -- placed in at least one event. "They stuck with it," said Cowan. "They got better every year and it paid off."