LAKEWOOD - For The Classical Academy’s track team, the state meet was a mission of redemption. Not so much redemption of result, but redemption of capability.
TCA won both the boys’ and girls’ 3A team championships. The boys beat their nearest competition, Rifle, 106-75. The girls outscored second-place Eaton 137-95. The wins provided some needed relief after a disappointing result a year ago.
“The theme was redemption, but it wasn’t to win because on any given year you might not have the team to win,” TCA coach Timothy Daggett said. “Last year we didn’t feel like we were able to give our best. Either we were injured or we had disqualifications.
“We just walked off feeling like we came up short of what we were capable of.”
The 2011 Titans girls took third at state and the boys took second. That was a big letdown for a school that had won five consecutive girls and two straight boys championships.
“I felt like when we had the streak going, you’re nervous about the streak – losing the streak,” Daggett said. “One of the themes for us at our pre-state party was ‘we’re not afraid to lose, we’re excited to win.’”
They did plenty of that. Coming into Saturday’s competition, the TCA girls held a 21-point lead over Eaton, while the boys trailed Faith Christian by one. Since Faith Christian had just two athletes competing Saturday, however, the real competition was third-place Rifle, which was 24 points back.
The Titans not only held those leads, they increased them. With 14 seniors on the team (nine boys and five girls), the focus among the athletes was overwhelmingly team first.
“I know where I’m going next year; I know what I’m doing. My college career wasn’t riding on this,” said senior Allison Kropkowski, who won the 400-meter dash Saturday and will run at Northern Colorado. “This was for my team.”
She certainly wasn’t the only Titan with that attitude.
“This is what we came here for; we came here to bring back that team title,” said Shelby Stableford, who was the runner-up to Regan Mullen in the 1,600 to essentially clinch the girls’ team title. “We were really disappointed last year with getting third. This year we all looked at each other and said, ‘This is the year we bring it back home. This is our year.’”
On the boys’ side, Nathan Weeks’ win in the 400 helped put TCA out of reach. The senior felt that running for the team was what gave him that little extra he needed.
“I had my doubts about winning because I had some really close competition,” he said. “I just thought, ‘I can’t run for myself, I’ve got to run for my team.’ That helped – I just ran for my team and I think that pulled me through.”
Also scoring for TCA on the track Saturday were Alexa Chacon, who won both the girls’ 100 and 300 hurdles and Adam Avischious and Conner Wilburn, who took third and fourth in the boys’ 1,600. In addition, the girls took fourth in the 400 relay and fifth in the 1,600 while the boys grabbed third in the 1,600.
In the field events, Conner Scheer took third in both the boys’ high jump and long jump and Hannah Carr took third in the shot put.
Fine redemption indeed.
“It’s really a redemption theme of ‘We want our best back,’” Daggett said. “Whatever that gets us, we’re happy with that.”
It got them a pair of state titles.