‘It’s the worst, but I love it:’ Bennett takes 2nd in the 400
LAKEWOOD — There’s a longstanding theory among track athletes that the 400-meter dash is the worst race. It’s one lap around the track, and at the state level, it’s more than a dash. It’s an all-out sprint.
Hayden High School junior Jillian Bennett agrees with that, but it’s still her favorite event.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s the worst, but I love it.”
Bennett earned a personal-best time of 59.25 seconds, making her the second-fastest 400 runner among 2A girls in Colorado. She came around the last corner in the running of the top four, beating one girl in the stretch and another at the line.
“It’s definitely the hardest race, but it’s the most fun for me,” she said. “I love that I get the opportunity to strategize and come up with a plan, and it’s good because here, at state and at regionals, I finally get to see opponents that push me.”
The plan was to push the pace as fast as possible, without giving it her all for the first half. Once she hit the halfway mark, she opened up her stride and moved as fast as she could until crossing the line.
She’s had years to perfect this strategy, since she first ran the 400 in fifth grade. The young athlete was thrown into a 4×400 relay, and she ended up being naturally good at the distance. She’s been running it ever since.
While the 400 is undoubtedly her strongest race, Bennett also made the finals in the 200, finishing sixth.
Bennett was the only girl competing for Hayden on Saturday, but her efforts helped the Tigers finish seventh among more than 40 2A teams.
“It’s amazing. I’m so proud of them. We brought six girls to state,” Bennett said. “Here we are up in the top of these teams. That feels so good. I could not be prouder of my teammates. I’m so happy to have them here with me.”
Keaton Knez was the only Hayden boy competing Saturday, finishing 13th in the 1,600-meter race.
Ram women earn personal bests
With a small field, Soroco High School took 15th as a team, aided by a third-place finish from Marissa Martindale in long jump.
Her second jump of the day measured 16 feet, 4 inches. She had a similar next jump, but in the finals, her steps weren’t putting her in the perfect spot to launch, and the shorter distances reflected that. Martindale said it’s a pattern she sees in almost every competition. Her best jumps come early.
“I started warming up a lot earlier because I thought we were going to jump earlier. I think that definitely helped me get the new (personal best),” she said. “As we went on, I started getting warmer, so that’s why my steps were changing a little bit for the finals.”
Martindale has a jump coach, and with such a small team, she’s able to get a lot of one-on-one time with him. That doesn’t outweigh the fact that the Rams don’t even have a jumping pit to practice in. Nevertheless, Martindale has excellent form and has one more year to fight for a long jump title.
Not long after completing her individual event, she ran the second leg of the 4×100 meter, in which Soroco took fifth thanks to the efforts of Larhae Whaley, Lexi Vandenburg and Kayedence Bruner.
Rose Karrow ran the mile before the rain hit Saturday, finally breaking the 6-minute barrier, a goal she’s been close to reaching for a few weeks. She came in ranked as No. 15 and took 12th with a time of 5:55.62.
Sailors rally for one last race
The Steamboat Springs High School track team had one event Saturday afternoon with the girls 4×100 relay, and the entire team showed up, cheering on the Sailors girls despite the rain. The team of Elise Colby, Marcada Baker, Kelsey Hamilton and Aliyah Reimer ran one of their best races ever. As Reimer hauled toward the finish, the small pod of Sailors screamed and pumped their arms.
“These guys and gals were as excited to cheer on the ladies today as they would be in their own race,” said head coach Lisa Renee Tumminello. “They were jittery for them. They were nervous for them.”
Tumminello watched in awe as she knew the girls were close to breaking the school record of 50.5 seconds. As officials sped the meet along to beat the weather, the final times weren’t posted. So, it wasn’t until the girls stepped on the podium that the final times were shown.
They were indeed close, running a 50.7, earning them fifth. The foursome placed fifth or better in the 4×100, 4×200 and 800 sprint medley. They helped the Steamboat girls team finish 16th of 46 teams.
“The ladies were super laser focused today and a little nervous,” Tumminello said. “I saw a little bit of nerves in them. They kept looking up in the stands to see if their team was looking down at them in the check-in tent, and that just speaks to their relationships and how close they are and how wrapped up they are in each other’s success.”
200: 1. Jordan Burnett, South Park, 25.29. 2. Mikayla Hutchinson 25.79. 3. Emma Dikken 26.28. 4. Kylee Terry 26.37. 5. Kacie McCollum 26.52. 6. Jillian Bennett 26.6. 7. Bailey Nelson 26.66. 8. Dixie Rhea 26.98. 9. Hannah Turpin 27.3.
400: 1. Jordan Burnett, South Park, 56.91. 2. Jillian Bennett, Hayden, 59.25. 3. Emma Dikken 59.7. 4. Kiley Geiser 1:01.35. 5. Payton Kutz 1:01.72. 6. Brigid Neuheardt 1:02.21. 7. Madison Cook 1:02.25. 8. Tayla Martin 1:04.19. 9. Alexis Tafoya 1:04.22.
1600: 1. Eowyn Dalbec, Peyton, 5:24.65. 12. Rose Karrow, S, 5:55.62.
4×100: 1. Cedaredge 52.17. 2. Yuma 52.46. 3. Limon 52.64. 4. Meeker 52.69. 5. Soroco 52.87. 6. Platte Canyon 53.15. 7. Buena Vista 53.73. 8. Sedgwick County 53.91. 9. Peyton 54.54.
Long jump: 1. Hannah Turpin 16-11.75. 2. Eboselulu Omofoma 16-07. 3. 3. Marissa Martindale, Soroco 16-04. 4. Jaysa Even 16-03.75. 5. Kacie McCollum 16-03.5. 6. Sierra Staab 16-02.5. 7. Kaela France 16-01. 8. Symantha Linnebur 15-10.75. 9. Correy Koellner 15-06.
1600: 1. Connor Williams, Crested Butte, 4:19.9. 13. Keaton Knez, Hayden, 4:46.4.
4×100: 1. Niwot 48.3. 2. Erie 49.2. 3. Mesa Ridge 50.29. 4. Denver South 50.41. 5. Steamboat Springs 50.7. 6. Windsor 50.77. 7. Palmer Ridge 51.07. 8. Mullen 51.48. 9. Vista Peak 51.82.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Steamboat Springs 2021 graduate Thomas Lewer will always set lofty goals.