Redmond, Kerbs fly to state medals
Lakewood — Jack Redmond has been to state, been intimidated by the big stadium, the cheering crowd, the talented athletes.
He qualified in long jump both his sophomore and junior seasons and couldn’t ever match his results from the regular season, the jumps that got him there in the first place.
Thursday, kicking off the final state meet of his career, the Hayden High School senior finally managed to handle all that comes with competing at state, from the nerves to the competition.
Competing in the triple jump, Redmond uncorked the best jump of his career on his very first try. He flew to second place, providing a huge first-day highlight for local track athletes.
“I was overwhelmed with emotion,” he said. “It was really exciting.”
He leapt 41 feet, 4.75 inches on his first try, then had to watch as every other elite jumper in the field took turns trying to knock him off.
Only one succeeded, Sedgwick County jumper Chad Mikelson won comfortably at 43-4.50.
Everyone else came close, but never could match Redmond’s first jump. The next three competitors were within four inches, starting with third-place Austin Katzer of Paonia at 41-4.0, 0.75 inches behind Redmond.
“It was nice to come out and show what I can do,” Redmond said. “I wasn’t really even nervous. I laid it out there.”
Redmond hopes to make a second trip to the podium on Saturday in long jump, an event in which, on paper, he has an even better chance of placing high.
“In the past, when I came here I’ve been tight and nervous, but this year, I just went with the flow,” he said. “I knew it was up to me if I was going to make it happen. I cleared my head and let loose.
“It gets me excited knowing what can happen, knowing what I can do. It gets me more focused on what I need to do to get back up there on the podium.”
Redmond didn’t provide the only highlight, either. Teammate Thomas Rauch came through in his preliminary 110-meter hurdles race, placing eight and qualifying for Saturday’s finals.
“He had an unbelievable start,” coach Pat Moore said of Rauch. “He always finishes really strong. Today was unique, because he kind of fumbled it up right in the middle of the hurdles, but we talked about the possibility of putting it all together. He can be really successful in the finals Saturday.”
Kerbs leaps to sixth
Steamboat high jumper Austin Kerbs also left state with a medal.
A few friends convinced Kerbs, a senior, to give track a try this spring, a final goodbye to high school sports after a career spent focused on football and basketball.
He took to high jumping immediately and leapt to sixth place Thursday, earning a state medal in his first and final state track performance.
“It’s my first year doing track, and to get top six in state, that’s exciting,” Kerbs said.
Kerbs managed to equal his season best on Thursday, clearing 6-feet-2 inches in JeffCo Stadium in Lakewood, and that turned out to be much more important than it seemed it would be.
Nine jumpers entered the meet with better season bests, and nine more had the exact same season best as Kerbs.
He was one of the few who managed to perform up to that mark on Thursday, however. Eight jumpers didn’t clear a height, and the favorite in the event, who’d cleared 6-8, didn’t advance past 6-0.
Kerbs took advantage to earn his medal.
“I was surprised,” he said. “You have your days. Some days, you’re not feeling it. Some meets, I’ve only jumped 5-10, but it was nice to come to state and do my best.”
Rossi leads Soroco
Freshman Mattie Rossi provided Soroco’s biggest highlight of the day, making it to the finals in the 100 hurdles. She did it with plenty of room to spare, qualifying fifth overall with a time of 17.12 seconds.
Other local athletes were left to wrestle Thursday with a “happy to be there” mantra, one Soroco senior Micah Gibbons embraced whole heartedly.
His goal for the season in pole vault was to make state, and he did. While at state, he matched his season best and placed 13th.
“I didn’t get last, so that’s good,” he said, grinning. “It was a good time pole vaulting. My goal was to make state, and I was blessed to be here.”
He found similar solace in the boy’s 3,200-meter relay performance. The team wasn’t competitive with the leaders, but fought dearly back in the pack. Andrew Schupner led off, handing to Sarvis Anerella, who passed to Gerald Scott and finally to Gibbons, who anchored.
Each leg battled to hold position, and it came down to Gibbons streaking toward the finish line, pain etched on his face as he dueled another runner to the line.
He lost by less than a step, but that didn’t phase him either.
Similar results littered the day for Soroco and Hayden athletes.
The girls 3,200 relay team, with Jessica Rossi, Charlee Veilleux, Cassie Constine and Kali Constine, was 15th in 10:52.89.
The 800 sprint medley team, with Hayley Johnson, Veilleux, Lauren Childers and Briana Peterson, was 16th in 2:05.87, missing finals. The 800 relay team, with the same lineup, was 17th in 1:58.71, also missing finals.
Ben Kelly finished 11th in the boys 3,200. Kelley is a freshman who will compete in three individual events at state. In his first taste of the massive meet, he had a shot at a medal up to the final stretch. He finished in 10:14.25, in a pack and 3.1 seconds out of ninth.
Junior Kali Constine wasn’t able to duplicate her eye-popping performance from a year ago, when she placed third in high jump. Thursday, she cleared 4-8 and placed 15th.
Johnson and Hayden’s Jewel Vreeman were 17th and 18th respectively in the 100 with times of 13.95 and 14.06.
The Rams should have plenty of chances to get on the board Friday. They start the day with both the boys and girls 400 relays, then finish it with the boys and girls 1,600 relays.
That’s one race where “happy to be there” may not apply.
“We want to get a medal,” Gibbons said.
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