LAKEWOOD - It's a toss-up to which Katie Rainsberger moment caused more anxiety in the bleachers of Jefferson County Stadium. Was it watching her close a sizeable gap on Mountain View anchor Riley Cooney while turning ghostly white on the final leg of the 3,200-meter relay? Or was it watching her wobble in exhaustion on the podium afterward?
Following a spring season split between soccer and track, the Air Academy sophomore barreled down on Cooney in the 3,200 relay and erased a six-second deficit at the state track meet on Thursday. But with 100 meters to go, Rainsberger hit the wall and the Kadets settled for second by just over a second with a school-record time of 9 minutes, 17 seconds.
Air Academy's previous record in the girl's relay was 9:36.
"We're very excited about breaking the record. Wish we could have won, but my legs just went (dead) there at the end," Rainsberger said. "We are happy to go down in school history though. Now everyone after us will make us the mark of what they want to beat. I think that's cool."
Coronado finished fourth (9:35.75) and Canon City took seventh (9:42.52).
On the boys' side, Fountain-Fort Carson settled for third at 7:57.98 in the 5A boys' 3,200 relay. Chaparral, which had the top time all season in the relay, took first at 7:51.32 followed by Cherry Creek at 7:57.19.
Phillip Benjamin Thomas led the Trojans to third after the first leg, and Juan Sabino II pushed them into second after the third leg. But Chaparral never relented and improved on its second-place finish at state last year.
"We knew Chaparral was who we had to beat if we wanted to win a state title, but they were just cruising today," Sabino II said. "Maybe we could have gone a little faster. But we return three of us next season, so we should win it then."
Liberty (8:10.87) finished eighth and Doherty, which had the third-fastest 5A time entering state, finished 10th (8:12.05).
For most of the relay runners, Thursday didn't close the book on their seasons as multiple-event athletes are a common trend at the state track and field meet.
Rainsberger, for one, will continue "a very tiring season" with the 800, 1,600 and 1,600 relay over the next two days.
"I'm ready for it though," she said.
Rainsberger said she would "probably not" try to run track and play soccer for a third consecutive season next year.
"I'll most likely just focus on track," said Rainsberger, who played on the Kadets' soccer team before they were knocked out of the postseason last weekend. "I was tired most of the time this season since I upped my mileage and kept with soccer. I think just doing track is probably best from now on."