LAKEWOOD ? Tucker Hamilton had much more to think about Thursday than just his 5A 3,200-meter final at the state track and field championships at Jeffco Stadium. As it turns out, he takes his schoolwork just as seriously as his running.
While he's pretty good at both, chances are the Rampart senior won't earn a state championship on his Spanish or chemistry International Baccalaureate final exams.
He saved that for the track.
Hamilton used a late burst to separate from Liberty junior Clayson Shumway to win his first state championship, finishing in a time of 9 minutes, 29.70 seconds. Shumway hit the line in 9:31.89.
Then after a quick awards ceremony, it was back to Rampart to finish what he started.
"Everything worked out," Hamilton said. "We planned on different testing times that could accommodate me going to state. I missed the 3,200 relay, but that's not as bad as the two mile. That's my specialty."
Hamilton, who's headed to Brown this fall, woke up quite early to start his Spanish final at 5:30 a.m. Thursday. After his victory - the race started at 9:10 a.m. - Hamilton hit the road and returned to Rampart around noon to resume the exam. Then, he continued his day with your everyday four-hour chemistry exam.
By 5 p.m., Hamilton had completed a day he won't soon forget.
"I had a very long day," Hamilton said. "I've been in the IB program since I was a kindergartner, and I did it for pride. It really does prepare you for the next level, but there's nothing I really need to test out of."
Hamilton passed his athletics test after eight laps around the track, biding his time alongside Shumway, who finished runner-up at last season's state cross country meet at Bear Creek Park and Norris-Penrose Event Center.
Studying the Liberty runner like one of his IB classes, Hamilton picked just the right moment to make his move, hitting the jets at just the right time.
"This was a big strategy race," Hamilton said. "I knew no one would want to lead the first mile, so the pace was a little slower. I normally kick with about 800 to go, but I held behind him a little longer. I've seen some of his races and I noticed that he didn't have as big of a kick. I held on and waited it out and stayed with him until there were about 200 meters left, and it worked out perfectly."
Hamilton, who had the season's best 3,200 time to earn the top seed, will return Saturday for the 1,600, where he is ranked ninth. Shumway is seeded second.
"I've never won something as big as state, and I'm looking forward to the Saturday mile," Hamilton said. "To run with all the really fast people, that will be a really good race."