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Photo by Tamie Meck Silver-medalist Poppy Lightfoot lands a triple jump at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships. Lightfoot also medaled in three relays.
Photo by Tamie Meck Paonia sophomore Lauryn Kiefer placed seventh at the Class 2A State Track and Field Championships with a throw of 108-7.
Photo by Tamie Meck After two successful meets, Paonia senior Sabrina Leighton made her mark at the state track meet with a silver medal performance in shot put.
Photo by Tamie Meck Harley Ewert runs with the lead pack in the Class 2A State 800m finals at Jefferson County Stadium. Ewert, who medaled in three events, finished two-100ths of a second behind Colton Johjak-Plahn, right.

Silver highlights Paonia state track performance

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The Paonia men's track team won two silver medals and scored 29 points to finish ninth at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships.

The 3200-meter relay team of Logan Green, Simon Cox, Ethan Bartlett and Harley Ewert cut 20 seconds off its season-best performance to place second with a time of 8:22.33. It was seeded seventh. "We knew they could get in that 8:20 range," said head coach Brian Mitchem. "Our hopes were a little higher, but they ran really well."

"We're pretty happy," said Green. "We knew that our qualifying time was nowhere even close to what we could run."

"We're a little bummed though," said Green. "We wanted the school record." That record time of 8:20.36 was set in 2005 by Eric Hughes, Alex Mitchem, Billy Mitchell and Justin Vallelonga, which, at the time, was two seconds shy of the 2A state meet record.

With Bartlett and Ewert graduating, putting together a team to beat that school record won't be easy, said Green. "I hope we can do that, but it'll be pretty tough."

Ewert and Bartlett, both seniors, hit peak performance at state to medal in three events. In the 800m run Ewert was seeded fifth and won silver with a personal-best time of 1 minute, 59 seconds. In a race where fewer than four seconds divided first place from ninth place, Ewert finished two-100ths of a seconds behind the winner from Lyons.

Ewert also placed fifth in the 400m dash with a personal-best time of 50.98 seconds.

Bartlett placed fifth in the 1600m with a time of 4:37.9, and seventh in the 3200m with a time of 10:14.39 -- both personal-record times.

Green, a junior, also qualified in two individual events, placing 13th in the 800m and 16th in the 1600m.

Ewert, David Lozano, Jesse Burns and Green placed 10th in the 1600m relay; and the 800m relay team of Noah McDaniel, Jesse Burns, Calvin Reese and Cox finished 18th.

PAONIA GIRLS

The Paonia girls won silver in two events and scored 37 points to place sixth in Class 2A at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships.

For shot putter Sabrina Leighton, her third year at state was a charm. All her training came together in her third and final throw of the meet when she earned a silver medal with a put of 36 feet, 11 inches.

"We're just so proud of her, so happy for her," said Mitchem.

Leighton started throwing shot put in eighth grade. A third-year state qualifier, she placed 16th as a sophomore and 11th last season -- both well below where she was ranked going into the meet.

In the past, she said, "When I've gotten to state, I just haven't performed very well. I always get in my head. I get so scared because so many people are watching. This year I really worked on being comfortable with myself. That really pushed me to do more."

That also helped her in preliminaries. Her opening throw, also her best throw of 35 feet, 10.25 inches, put her in fifth place heading into finals. "I was more relaxed after that, definitely," she said. That gave her room in her last two preliminary throws to focus on her technique.

In finals, it was her third throw that put her in the No. 2 spot. She gave a lot of credit to throwing coach Scott Rienks, who told her to "Just get out there, just relax. It doesn't matter how you do. Don't think about it." To finish second in state, she said, "I am happy."

Senior Poppy Lightfoot's best triple jump of her career, a mark of 34 feet, 11.25 inches, earned her a silver medal.

Senior Alex Eaton was ranked 13th in the 300m hurdles and placed sixth with a career-best time of 49.23 seconds. "I couldn't be happier," said Eaton. "I couldn't ask for a better way to end the year."

Also medaling in individual events, sophomore Lauryn Kiefer finished seventh in discus with a throw of 108 feet, 7 inches.

The girls placed in three of five relays. In the 800m sprint medley relay, Lyla Hayutin-Baril, Sadie Miller, Eaton and Lightfoot placed eighth, qualifying for finals with a season-best time of 1:55.13.

In the 3200m relay, Lightfoot, freshman Abby LaBounty, sophomore Tawny Roberts and junior Ceylon Carter won bronze with a season-best time of 10:17.99. The 1600m relay team of Miller, Roberts, Abby LaBounty and Lightfoot was ranked 10th and placed fifth with a season-best time of 4:15.73.

The 400m team of Sadie Lee, Hayutin-Baril, Miller and Eaton missed finals by 25-100ths of a second. Because many of its top athletes competed in individual events, Mitchem put freshmen Abby LaBounty and Addi Neal on the 800m relay team with Carter and Hayutin-Baril. "We wanted them to experience state," he said. "We hope they'll come out again next year."

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