Late drama gives F-FC boys' title; Palmer Ridge dominates for first 4A crown

May 17, 2014 Updated: May 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm
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The Palmer Ridge boys track and field team dog piles after winning the team title at the Colorado Track and Field State Championships at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood, Colo. Saturday, May 17, 2014. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

LAKEWOOD - Fountain-Fort Carson returned to a familiar place with eleventh-hour dramatics.

Palmer Ridge achieved new heights with a dominating performance that required no such nail-biting.

Both claimed boys' track and field championships Saturday at Jeffco Stadium, in dynamically different fashion.

The Trojans, who trailed Grandview by two points heading into the 1,600-meter relay, needed a solid finish and some help. They got it when Phillip Thomas secured a second-place finish, while Grandview's anchor runner faded to finish sixth. The result gave F-FC a two-point victory, the school's 20th state track and field title.

"That was very nerve-racking," said Thomas, a junior, who crossed the finish line behind Cherry Creek, but the eight team points, combined with only four for Grandview, made up the deficit. "When you have the teammates like I have, everybody kept each other going and gave each other confidence. We got it done."

The Trojans got it done with consistent contributions in individual events, getting eight athletes to the podium, but no event champions. Those victories were saved for the relays, where Fountain-Fort Carson took first in the 800 on Friday and 400 on Saturday, followed by a runner-up showing in the end that proved to be the difference.

"That was a fun meet, just to watch," said Trojans coach Ben Montoya, who has led the team to three state titles in his tenure, the last in 2011. "We got a lot of solid performances from a lot of people. For us, every point mattered."

The points came furiously for Palmer Ridge, which had athletes score in 13 of 18 events to score 103, far outdistancing runner-up Valor Christian, which had 66.

Even though dramatics weren't required on this day, the Bears put quite the exclamation point on the day by winning the 1,600 relay with a 4A event record-time of 3 minutes, 15.51 seconds, more than two seconds better than the previous mark.

"Last year, when we watched Vista Ridge take first, that was the start of what we did here today," Bears senior Marcus Garrison said. "At that point, we became a serious track team. We wanted to be on the top step, and teams like Vista and Valor pushed us to be our best."

Earlier in the meet, Palmer Ridge claimed victory in the 800 relay after missing the cut in the 400.

And like their 5A counterparts, the Bears also didn't have a single athlete win an individual event, but used solid finishes to pile up the points.

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