In a zone of her own, Hayden’s Wilkie dominates 800 |

In a zone of her own, Hayden’s Wilkie dominates 800

Hannah Wilkie knew the basics of tackling the 800-meter run.

One foot in front of the other.

Two laps.

Start fast. Run hard. Finish strong.

That was enough early in her freshman season with the Hayden High School track team to give her the confidence that she could compete at state.

After finding herself boxed in during a mid-season 800, she said, she borrowed a note from another standout Routt County 800 runner, Soroco's Ben Kelley.

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She watched him dominate a race from the front, leading wire and wire, and decided the best way to avoid traffic was to beat it, to stay out front.

"If I'm going to be tired, anyway, I may as well be really tired," she said.

Sunday, at the Class 2A state track meet in Lakewood, Wilkie followed that blueprint all the way to the top of the podium, thundering out ahead of the pack early, then maintaining her gap throughout the race. 
She went wire-to-wire to win the state championship.

She finished in 2 minutes, 18.58 seconds, ahead of Telluride’s Soleil Gaylord, who was second in 2:21.77.

"I was just so happy," Wilkie said. "That's what I've been waiting for all season."

For Wilkie, the 800 is an act of total focus, and it starts early the day of a race.

She loses herself in her headphones before a race, shunning teammates, friends and even family.

"I'm just ignoring people," she said. "My teammates will try to talk to me, and I say, 'I don’t mean to be rude, but I'm going to put my headphones on and not talk to you for the rest of the day.' They're so good about letting me do my thing.”

The veil doesn't lift during the race, either. Sunday, her mother cheered for her at one corner of the track. A pack of Hayden fans yelled from another. Only her father's words have proven consistently able to cut through.

"If I can keep myself quiet before the race, when I am running the race, I get tunnel vision,” she said. “I can't hear anyone yelling for me or cheering except my dad. It keeps me calm."

She was in the zone Sunday, but finally, the door opened as she approached the finish line, striding confidently toward a title, in full control of the race. She threw her head back with a grin as she crossed to win the title.

Tigers busy Sunday at state

Wilkie's race was only one on what was the busiest day of the state track meet for the Hayden squad.

Hers was the most successful, but that's a pretty high bar to match.

The Tigers got a solid run from Alan Aguirre in the 100-meter dash. He flew to a 15th-place finish in 11.72 seconds.

The Hayden girls 1,600 relay team took to the track later, despite some fairly significant hurdles. Wilkie was scheduled to run with the squad but pulled out when the state track meet was rescheduled to Sunday, opting instead to head home after her own race to be there for her sister, Grace Wilkie's, graduation.

Hayden senior Darian Murphy, meanwhile, decided to attend her own graduation rather than run at state.

The team consisted of Allison Ingols, Paige Barnes, Alex Camilletti and Faith Day. It came in 18th with a time of 4:32.74.

Day also competed in high jump. She cleared the first height, but couldn't carry that momentum any further and exited at 4 feet, 7 inches, in 14th place.

Chris Carrouth tackled the day's two longest races and was very strong in the 800, just missing on the chance to medal. He placed 11th in 2:02.53, less than 2.5 seconds out of the medals. He then ran to 17th in the 1,600 with a time of 4:49.50.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9