Elizabeth's Kimberly Peterson was up in the air and oh, so close to winning a gold medal in the May 18 Class 4A state track meet.
As it turned out, Peterson, a junior, had to settle for the silver medal following her competition in the pole vault with her 12-foot effort. The winner was senior Addy Neibauer of Greeley Central who vaulted 12-6 for the gold.
Yet it was a day in which Peterson could have hoped for much more from the Elizabeth track team this season. She was the only girl from the team to earn points for the Cardinals in the three-day meet, coached by Lori McCoin, held at Lakewood's Jefferson County Stadium.
The other qualifiers for the Elizabeth girls were Tegan Alexander in the 100, and Clare Nicolas in the 400 and the Sprint Medley relay team. Peterson, Alexander and Nicholas were joined by Danane Goldsberry on the relay team. However, all but Peterson failed to qualify for their finals.
“I thought there was almost no way to make 12 foot today but I did by the grace of God,” Peterson said. “I went to a bigger pole than last week and I was really nervous. But it turned out to be good for me. My goal was to make 12 feet and I did that.
“The competition was a lot of fun,” said Peterson, who won the silver based on the number of misses. “To make it to state is a step in the right direction and I'm hoping to improve and do much better next season. The biggest disappointment is that more of my teammates didn't make it here.”
The only state qualifiers for the Elizabeth boys were Gav Houston in the pole vault and the Cardinals' 400 relay team composed of Ryan White, Joel Thies, Jeff Stevens and Brody Oliver. What was also truly disappointing for Elizabeth is that the boys were the Colorado 7 League champions while the girls finished second in the league's inaugural season.
Vista Ridge, located in Colorado Springs, came through to win the 4A boys championship with 80 points, followed by Valor Christian of Highlands Ranch (68) and Coronado (53). Niwot was crowned the 4A girls team champion, scoring 70 points. The Cougars were followed by Sand Creek (56), also out of Colorado Springs, and Pueblo South (54.5).
While Peterson felt there was probably no way she would vault 12 feet, the boys 400 relay team also had some doubts as to where they would finish. The Cardinals, by the way, came in as the number 16 seed, which is the last of the qualifiers.
Yet the boys not only surprised themselves, but probably the rest of the field as they came through with a fourth-place finish with a time of :43.01, thought to be a new school record. Valor Christian was the winner (:41.48), followed by Cheyenne Mountain (:42.27) and Vista Ridge (:42.44).
“I never felt better,” White said. “Our hand-offs were great and we were on. I think we surprised a lot of people, coming in seeded 16th and finishing fourth. We ran well in our qualifier, our best ever to that point. With our ranking, there was nothing to lose. We ran like it was our last race of the season and it turned out not to be.”
And that adrenaline rush was felt all over.
“Everything was good out there in this one and I don't think anyone expected this from us,” Stevens said. “We just ran real good and had the hand-offs to improve our position. I don't think we thought we could make the final, but we did.”
“We ran fast,” continued Thies. “We knew what we had to do, but we also knew we were a ways down the list. It was just a case of going out, doing our job and hoping to get that job done.”
Added Oliver, “Really, I'm at a loss for words. I think we ran unbelievable. We just went out and focused on what we had to do and the adrenaline got us going.”
The fleet finish by the Cardinals in their relay was something that coach Lori McCoin hoped would happen. However, she also hoped that Alexander, Nicolas and Houston could have had opportunities on the awards stand.
“I had kind of predicted in my head that the boys would make it to the top five.” McCoin said. “They were on with their baton passes, just the best hand-offs that I've seen all year. They came through some tough competition. It was just a great weekend for them. These kids leave a good legacy for us to build on next season.
“Our three other individuals feel bad, but they shouldn't,” McCoin said. “They know they have something to build on and I've got a huge amount of confidence in what they can accomplish. Gav was fine on his pole vault and he's starting to get the height he's wanted for sure. And Tegan feels bad, too, but she shouldn't. A freshman at state is great.”